for the insult. The Peking government offered to carry out the convention, and to pay a small indemnity for the lives lost through the misunderstanding. This was refused, and hostilities recommenced, or, as the French preferred to call them, reprisals, for the fiction was still kept up that the two countries were not at war. Under cover of this fiction the French fleet peaceably entered the harbour of Fuchow, having passed the forts at the entrance to the river without hindrance. Once inside, they attacked and destroyed the much inferior Chinese fleet which was then quietly at anchor, destroying at the same time a large part of the arsenal which adjoins the anchorage (23rd August 1884). Retracing its steps, the French fleet attacked and destroyed with impunity the forts which were built to guard the entrance to the Min river, and could offer no resistance to a force coming from the rear. After this exploit the French fleet left the mainland and continued its reprisals on the coast of Formosa. Kelung, a treaty port, was bombarded and taken, October 4th. A similar attempt, however, on the neighbouring port of Tamsui was unsuccessful, the landing party having been driven back to their ships with severe loss. The attempt was not renewed, and the fleet thereafter confined itself to a semi-blockade of the island, which was prolonged into 1885 but led to no practical results. Negotiations for peace, however, which had been for some time in progress through the mediation of Sir Robert Hart, were at this juncture happily concluded (April 1885). The terms were practically those of the Fournier convention of the year before, the demand for an indemnity having been quietly dropped.
China, on the whole, came out of the struggle with greatly increased prestige. She had tried conclusions with a first-class European power and had held her own. Incorrect conclusions as to the military strength of China were Increased prestige of China. consequently drawn, not merely by the Chinese themselves—which was excusable—but by European and even British authorities, who ought to have been better informed. War vessels were ordered by China both from England and Germany, and Admiral Lang, who had withdrawn his services while the war was going on, was re-engaged together with a number of British officers and instructors. The completion of the works at Port Arthur was taken in hand, and a beginning was made in the construction of forts at Wei-hai-wei as a second naval base. A new department was created for the control of naval affairs, at the head of which was placed Prince Chun, father of the emperor, who since the downfall of Prince Kung in 1884 had been taking a more and more prominent part in public affairs.
From 1885 to 1894 the political history of China does not call
for extended notice. Two incidents, however, must be recorded,
(1) the conclusion in 1886 of a convention with Great Britain, in
which the Chinese government undertook to recognize British
sovereignty in Burma, and (2) the temporary occupation of Port
Hamilton by the British fleet (May 1885–February 1887).
1894. In 1890 Admiral Lang resigned his command of the Chinese fleet. During a temporary absence of Lang’s colleague, Admiral Ting, the Chinese second in command, claimed the right to take charge—a claim which Admiral Lang naturally resented. The question was referred to Li Hung-Chang, who decided against Lang, whereupon the latter threw up his commission. From this point the fleet on which so much depended began to deteriorate. Superior officers again began to steal the men’s pays, the ships were starved, shells filled with charcoal instead of powder were supplied, accounts were cooked, and all the corruption and malfeasance that were rampant in the army crept back into the navy.
The year 1894 witnessed the outbreak of the war with Japan.
In the spring, complications again arose with Japan over Korea,
and hostilities began in July. The story of the war is
told elsewhere (see Chino-Japanese War), and it is
War with Japan,
1894. unnecessary here to recount the details of the decisive victory of Japan. A new power had arisen in the Far East, and when peace was signed by Li Hung-Chang at Shimonoseki on the 17th of April 1895 it meant the beginning of a new epoch. The terms included the cession of Liao-tung peninsula, then in actual occupation by the Japanese troops, the cession of Formosa, an indemnity of H. taels 200,000,000 (about £30,000,000) and various commercial privileges.
The signature of this treaty brought the European powers on
the scene. It had been for some time the avowed ambition of
Russia to obtain an ice-free port as an outlet to her Siberian
possessions—an ambition which was considered by British statesmen
as not unreasonable. It did not, therefore, at all suit her
purposes to see the rising power of Japan commanding
vention. the whole of the coast-line of Korea. Accordingly in the interval between the signature and the ratification of the treaty, invitations were addressed by Russia to the great powers to intervene with a view to its modification on the ground of the disturbance of the balance of power, and the menace to China which the occupation of Port Arthur by the Japanese would involve. France and Germany accepted the invitation, Great Britain declined. In the end the three powers brought such pressure to bear on Japan that she gave up the whole of her continental acquisitions, retaining only the island of Formosa. The indemnity was on the other hand increased by H. taels 30,000,000. For the time the integrity of China seemed to be preserved, and Russia, France and Germany could pose as her friends. Evidence was, however, soon forthcoming that Russia and France had not been disinterested in rescuing Chinese territory from the Japanese grasp. Russia now obtained the right to carry the Siberian railway across Chinese territory from Stryetensk to Vladivostok, thus avoiding a long détour, besides giving a grasp on northern Manchuria. France obtained, by a convention dated the 20th of June 1895, a rectification of frontier in the Mekong valley and certain railway and mining rights in Kiang-si and Yun-nan. Both powers obtained concessions of land at Hankow for the purposes of a settlement. Russia was also said to have negotiated a secret treaty, frequently described as the “Cassini Convention,” but more probably signed by Li Hung-Chang at Moscow, giving her the right in certain contingencies to Port Arthur, which was to be refortified with Russian assistance. And by way of further securing her hold, Russia guaranteed a 4% loan of £15,000,000 issued in Paris to enable China to pay off the first instalment of the Japanese indemnity.
The convention between France and China of the 20th of June 1895 brought China into sharp conflict with Great Britain. China, having by the Burma convention of 1886 agreed to recognize British sovereignty over Mekong valley dispute, 1895. Burma, her quondam feudatory, also agreed to a delimitation of boundaries at the proper time. Effect was given to this last stipulation by a subsequent convention concluded in London (1st of March 1894), which traced the boundary line from the Shan states on the west as far as the Mekong river on the east. In the Mekong valley there were two semi-independent native territories over which suzerainty had been claimed in times gone by both by the kings of Ava and by the Chinese emperors. These territories were named Meng Lun and Kiang Hung—the latter lying partly on one side and partly on the other of the Mekong river, south of the point where it issues from Chinese territory. The boundary line was so drawn as to leave both these territories to China, but it was stipulated that China should not alienate any portion of these territories to any other power without the previous consent of Great Britain. Yielding to French pressure, and regardless of the undertaking she had entered into with Great Britain, China, in the convention with France in June 1895, so drew the boundary line as to cede to France that portion of the territory of Kiang Hung which lay on the left bank of the Mekong. Compensation was demanded by Great Britain from China for this breach of faith, and at the same time negotiations were entered into with France. These resulted in a joint declaration by the governments of France and Great Britain, dated the 15th of January 1896, by which it was agreed as regards boundary that the Mekong from the point of its confluence with the Nam Huk northwards as far as the Chinese frontier should be the dividing line between the possessions or spheres of influence of the two powers. It was also agreed that any commercial privileges obtained by either power in Yun-nan or Sze-ch‛uen should be open to the subjects of the other. The negotiations with China resulted in a further agreement, dated the 4th of February 1897, whereby considerable modifications in favour of Great Britain were made in the Burma boundary drawn by the 1894 convention.