Unequal Treaties
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Unequal Treaties

Unequal treaty
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Korean name
Hangul
Hanja
Japanese name
Kanji
Kana

Unequal treaty is the name given by the Chinese to a series of treaties signed between the Qing dynasty and various Western powers, Russia, and the Empire of Japan during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The agreements, often reached after a military defeat, contained one-sided terms requiring China to cede land, pay reparations, open treaty ports, or grant extraterritorial privileges to foreign citizens.[1]

In boundary negotiations with neighboring countries, the People's Republic of China has contested with other countries roughly 7% of the territory that was part of the Qing dynasty at its height.[2]

With the rise of Chinese nationalism and anti-imperialism in the 1920s, both the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China used this concept to characterize the Chinese experience of losing sovereignty between roughly 1840 to 1950. The term "unequal treaty" became associated with the concept of China's "century of humiliation", especially the concessions to foreign powers and the loss of tariff autonomy through treaty ports.

Japanese and Koreans also often use this term to refer to several treaties that resulted in the loss of their sovereignty to varying degrees.

China

French political cartoon in 1898, China - the cake of Kings and Emperors, showing Britain, Germany, Russia, France and Japan dividing China
The Eight-Nation Alliance inside the Chinese imperial palace, the Forbidden City, during a celebration ceremony after the signing of the Boxer Protocol, 1901

In China, the term "unequal treaty" first came into use in the early 1920s.[3] Dong Wang (), a professor of contemporary and modern Chinese history, noted that "while the phrase has long been widely used, it nevertheless lacks a clear and unambiguous meaning" and that there is "no agreement about the actual number of treaties signed between China and foreign countries that should be counted as 'unequal'."[3] Historian Immanuel Hsu explained that the Chinese viewed the treaties they signed with Western powers and Russia as unequal "because they were not negotiated by nations treating each other as equals but were imposed on China after a war, and because they encroached upon China's sovereign rights ... which reduced her to semicolonial status".[4] In response, historian Elizabeth Cobbs wrote, "Ironically, however, the treaties also resulted partly from China's initial reluctance to consider any treaties whatsoever, since it viewed all other nations as inferior. It did not wish to be equal."[5]

In many cases, China was effectively forced to pay large amounts of financial reparations, open up ports for trade, cede or lease territories (such as Outer Manchuria and Outer Northwest China (including Zhetysu) to the Russian Empire, Hong Kong and Weihaiwei to the United Kingdom, Guangzhouwan to France, Kwantung Leased Territory and Taiwan to the Empire of Japan, the Jiaozhou Bay concession to the German Empire and concession territory in Tientsin, Shamian, Hankou, Shanghai etc.), and make various other concessions of sovereignty to foreign "spheres of influence", following military threats. The earliest treaty later referred to as "unequal" was the 1841 Convention of Chuenpi negotiations during the First Opium War. The first treaty between China and the United Kingdom termed "unequal" was the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. Following Qing China's defeat, treaties with Britain opened up five ports to foreign trade, while also allowing foreign missionaries, at least in theory, to reside within China. In addition, foreign residents in the port cities were afforded trials by their own consular authorities rather than the Chinese legal system, a concept termed extraterritoriality.[6] Under the treaties, the UK and the US established the British Supreme Court for China and Japan and United States Court for China in Shanghai.

Chinese resentment

After World War I, patriotic consciousness in China focused on the treaties, which now became widely known as "unequal treaties". The Nationalist Party and the Communist Party competed to convince the public that their approach would be more effective.[7] Germany was forced to terminate its rights, the Soviet Union surrendered them, and the United States organized the Washington Conference to negotiate them. After Chiang Kai-shek declared a new national government in 1927, the Western powers quickly offered diplomatic recognition, arousing anxiety in Japan.[8] The new government declared to the Great Powers that China had been exploited for decades under unequal treaties, and that the time for such treaties was over, demanding they renegotiate all of them on equal terms.[9] In the face of Japanese expansion in China, however, ending the system was postponed.[]

Many of the treaties China considers unequal were repealed during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which started in 1937 and merged into the larger context of World War II. The United States Congress ended American extraterritoriality in December 1943. Significant examples did outlast World War II: treaties regarding Hong Kong remained in place until Hong Kong's 1997 handover, and in 1969, to improve Sino-Soviet relations in the wake of military skirmishes along their border, the People's Republic of China reconfirmed the 1858 Treaty of Aigun.[]

Japan and Korea

When the American Commodore Matthew Perry reached Japan in 1854, it signed the Convention of Kanagawa. Its importance was limited. Much more important was the Harris Treaty of 1858 negotiated by U.S. envoy Townsend Harris.[10]

Korea's first unequal treaty was not with the West but instead with Japan. On 1875, Ganghwa Island incident happened which led Japan to send Captain Inoue Yoshika and the warship Un'y? displaying military might over Korea. This forced Korea to open its doors to Japan by signing the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1876.[11]

The unequal treaties ended at various times for the countries involved. Japan's victories in the 1894-95 First Sino-Japanese War convinced many in the West that unequal treaties could no longer be enforced on Japan. Korea's unequal treaties with European states became largely null and void in 1910, when it was annexed by Japan.[12]

Mongolia, China, and Russia

Selected list of treaties

China

Japan

Korea

See also

References

  1. ^ Fravel, M. Taylor (October 1, 2005). "Regime Insecurity and International Cooperation: Explaining China's Compromises in Territorial Disputes". International Security. 30 (2): 46-83. doi:10.1162/016228805775124534. ISSN 0162-2889. S2CID 56347789.
  2. ^ Fravel, M. Taylor (August 25, 2008). Strong Borders, Secure Nation: Cooperation and Conflict in China's Territorial Disputes. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-2887-6.
  3. ^ a b Wang, Dong. (2005). China's Unequal Treaties: Narrating National History. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. pp. 1-2. ISBN 9780739112083.
  4. ^ Hsu, Immanuel C. Y. (1970). The Rise of Modern China. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 239. ISBN 0195012402.
  5. ^ Cobbs, Elizabeth (2013). American Umpire. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 111. ISBN 9780674055476.
  6. ^ Dong Wang, China's Unequal Treaties: Narrating National History (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2005).
  7. ^ Dong Wang, China's Unequal Treaties: Narrating National History (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2005).
  8. ^ Akira Iriye, After Imperialism: The Search for a New Order in the Far East, 1921-1931 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965; Reprinted: Chicago: Imprint Publications, 1990), passim.
  9. ^ "CHINA: Nationalist Notes". TIME. June 25, 1928. Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ Michael R. Auslin (2006). Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy. Harvard University Press. pp. 17, 44. ISBN 9780674020313.
  11. ^ Preston, Peter Wallace. [1998] (1998). Blackwell Publishing. Pacific Asia in the Global System: An Introduction. ISBN 0-631-20238-2
  12. ^ I. H. Nish, "Japan Reverses the Unequal Treaties: The Anglo-Japanese Commercial Treaty of 1894," Journal of Oriental Studies (1975) 13#2 pp 137-146.
  13. ^ Auslin, Michael R. (2004) Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy, p. 17., p. 17, at Google Books
  14. ^ Auslin, p. 30., p. 30, at Google Books
  15. ^ Auslin, pp. 1, 7., p. 1, at Google Books
  16. ^ Auslin, p. 214., p. 214, at Google Books
  17. ^ Auslin, pp. 47-48., p. 47, at Google Books
  18. ^ Auslin, p. 71., p. 71, at Google Books
  19. ^ Auslin, Michael R. (2004) Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy, p. 154., p. 154, at Google Books
  20. ^ Howland, Douglas (2016). International Law and Japanese Sovereignty: The Emerging Global Order in the 19th Century. Springer. ISBN 9781137567772.
  21. ^ Korean Mission to the Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Washington, D.C., 1921-1922. (1922). Korea's Appeal to the Conference on Limitation of Armament, p. 33., p. 33, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty Between Japan and Korea, dated February 26, 1876."
  22. ^ Korean Mission, p. 29., p. 29, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty and Diplomatic Relations Between the United States and Korea. Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation dated May 22, 1882."
  23. ^ Moon, Myungki. "Korea-China Treaty System in the 1880s and the Opening of Seoul: Review of the Joseon-Qing Communication and Commerce Rules," Archived October 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Journal of Northeast Asian History, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Dec 2008), pp. 85-120.
  24. ^ Korean Mission, p. 32., p. 32, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty and Diplomatic Relations Between Germany and Korea. Treaty of Amity and Commerce dated November 23, 1883."
  25. ^ Korean Mission, p. 32., p. 32, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty and Diplomatic Relations Between Great Britain and Korea ... dated November 26, 1883."
  26. ^ Korean Mission, p. 32., p. 32, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty and Diplomatic Relations Between Korea and Russia. Treaty of Amity and Commerce dated June 25, 1884."
  27. ^ Korean Mission, p. 32., p. 32, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty and Diplomatic Relations Between Korea and Italy. Treaty of Friendship and Commerce dated June 26, 1884."
  28. ^ Yi, Kwang-gyu and Joseph P. Linskey. (2003). Korean Traditional Culture, p. 63., p. 63, at Google Books; excerpt, "The so-called Hanseong Treaty was concluded between Korea and Japan. Korea paid compensation for Japanese losses. Japan and China worked out the Tien-Tsin Treaty, which ensured that both Japanese and Chinese troops withdraw from Korea."
  29. ^ Korean Mission, p. 32., p. 32, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty and Diplomatic Relations Between Korea and France. Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation dated June 4, 1886."
  30. ^ Korean Mission, p. 32., p. 32, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty and Diplomatic Relations Between Korea and Austria. Treaty of Amity and Commerce dated July 23, 1892."
  31. ^ Korean Mission, p. 32., p. 32, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty and Diplomatic Relations Between Korea and Belgium. Treaty of Amity and Commerce dated March 23, 1901."
  32. ^ Korean Mission, p. 32., p. 32, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty and Diplomatic Relations Between Korea and Denmark. Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation dated July 15, 1902."
  33. ^ Korean Mission, p. 34., p. 34, at Google Books; excerpt, "Treaty of Alliance Between Japan and Korea, dated February 23, 1904."
  34. ^ Note that the Korean Mission to the Conference on the Limitation of Armament in Washington, D.C., 1921-1922 identified this as "Treaty of Alliance Between Japan and Korea, dated February 23, 1904"
  35. ^ Korean Mission, p. 35., p. 35, at Google Books; excerpt, "Alleged Treaty, dated August 22, 1904."
  36. ^ Note that the Korean diplomats in 1921-1922 identified this as "Alleged Treaty, dated August 22, 1904"
  37. ^ Korean Mission, p. 35., p. 35, at Google Books; excerpt, "Alleged Treaty, dated April 1, 1905."
  38. ^ Note that the Korean diplomats in 1921-1922 identified this as "Alleged Treaty, dated April 1, 1905"
  39. ^ Korean Mission, p. 35., p. 35, at Google Books; excerpt, "Alleged Treaty, dated August 13, 1905."
  40. ^ Note that the Korean diplomats in 1921-1922 identified this as "Alleged Treaty, dated August 13, 1905"
  41. ^ Korean Mission, p. 35., p. 35, at Google Books; excerpt, "Alleged Treaty, dated November 17, 1905."
  42. ^ Note that the Korean diplomats in 1921-1922 identified this as "Alleged Treaty, dated November 17, 1905"
  43. ^ Korean Mission, p. 35., p. 35, at Google Books; excerpt, "Alleged Treaty, dated July 24, 1907."
  44. ^ Korean Mission, p. 36., p. 36, at Google Books; excerpt, "Alleged Treaty, dated August 20, 1910."

Bibliography

Primary sources


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