Tsingtau: The Sequel to Port Arthur


‘THE Asiatic considers only superior force, and respects those only who he knows will use this superiority to the utmost limit. This respect we have won for ourselves in a signal manner, and it will bear fruit in the future.'

With this vaunt Count von Waldersee greeted his countrymen upon his return, in 1901, from Peking, where he had commanded the German East Asiatic Expedition. As an estimate of the Oriental the statement may well challenge criticism. Its importance lies, however, in the insight which it affords into the principles which have dominated German policy in the Far East.

German ships and subjects made their first appearance in China and Japan under British protection. In 1842, by the Treaty of Nankin, England had forced from China recognition for her subjects, and the United States and France followed her example with similar treaties two years later. A decade later still, Commodore Perry opened Japan to foreign intercourse. But it was not till 1860 that a Prussian squadron, on a diplomatic mission representing thirty-three German states, appeared in Eastern waters. Through the assistance and influence of Townsend Harris, the veteran American minister, a treaty was negotiated between Prussia and Japan. The other states of the Confederation were not. included in the treaty, the Japanese plenipotentiaries, who were appalled by the long roster of names, not being prepared to grant treaties by wholesale. Similar assistance was rendered by the British and French representatives in the negotiation of a treaty with China. This treaty, in a secret article, obliged the Prussians to forego for a period of five years the right of diplomatic representation in Peking. During this interval, as before, the subjects of the various German states were glad to avail themselves of the protection afforded by the officials of friendly powers.

In 1866 the first Prussian minister arrived in Peking. He took up his residence in an exceedingly unpretentious building adjoining the British legation grounds. With 1871 there naturally came an accession of prestige, but for many years Germany’s position was well represented by the humble quarters in which her diplomatic representative was lodged. Bismarck regarded the lack of vital interests in the Near and Far East, as elements of advantage, allowing Germany to maintain a neutral attitude in the disputes of the European powers until such time as she could play her stake at the best odds. Moreover, a conciliatory foreign policy was necessary, in order, as he says in his Memoirs, ‘To win the confidence, not only of the smaller European states, but also of the Great Powers, and to convince them that German policy will be just and peaceful, now that it has repaired the injuria temporum, the disintegration of the nation.’ As expressions of this policy he explains the conciliating attitude of Germany with reference to the Caroline Islands and Samoa. Until his retirement, therefore, Germany had no well-defined purpose of her own in the Orient, and politically she was a mere makeweight to the general policy of Great Britain.

But this period had not gone by without protest against such a laissez-faire attitude. Von Brandt, who represented the German government in Peking for nearly twenty years, repeatedly urged a more aggressive policy. He was particularly interested in the acquisition of a colony or naval station on the Asiatic coast, and this formed the subject of frequent memoranda to his government. At one time he visited the Island of Yezo, the northernmost of the four large islands of the Japanese group. He was at once impressed by its natural resources, its suitability for German immigration and settlement, and its desirability as a colony. These features he set forth in a lengthy report to his government, in which he stated that, the island could readily be acquired by purchase, or, if need be, ‘by force.’


With the accession of the present Kaiser there came a marked change in policy — a change which was emphasized by the disagreement with Bismarck and the Chancellor’s retirement. The utterances of the Kaiser became the watchwords of a new era and a new spirit. The young Emperor conceived it to be his duty ‘ to extend and enlarge that which his predecessors had bequeathed to him’; ‘Germany,’ he said, ‘must not be crowded out in the universal pressure toward the East ’ [Drang nach Osten]; Germany must have her ‘place in the sun.’ He would make himself an Oriental potentate, thereby emulating his imperial grandmother, who appealed to his imagination most profoundly as Empress of India.

Fortunately for his purposes, the Kaiser had inherited from the first Emperor and his Chancellor a long-standing friendship with Russia, and, with this, also a tradition of Russian greatness and power. The work of the Russian empire-builders was then drawing near completion. In 1858 the Czar’s dominions had been extended along the left bank of the Amur River to the Pacific Ocean; in 1860 the maritime province of Manchuria, between the Ussuri River and the sea, was ceded by China, together with the use of the harbor of Vladivostock; in 1891 the construction of the Trans-Siberian railroad had been begun and the whole scheme of railroad development and territorial absorption had been launched which, in the schemes of Russia’s statesmen, was to end only with the complete Russianization of Manchuria and Korea and the predominance of Russian influence throughout China. With this neighboring power, so far-reaching in policies, so irresistible in its advance, the Kaiser threw in his fortunes. For the next decade the threads of German policy in the Far East were closely interwoven with those of Russia. Every step taken by either power received the support of the other, and the advance was rapid.

The understanding was first put into practical effect during the Chinese-Japanese War. For many years the question of suzerainty over Korea had been a matter of dispute between the two neighboring empires. China had regarded Korea as a vassal state from time immemorial; Japan, realizing the designs of Russian policy and the weakness of the Chinese government, sought to establish Korea as an independent state. The real issue was between Japan and Russia, though it took the form of a war with China. Hostilities broke outon July 25,1894; after a number of disasters, China was compelled to sue for peace and Li Hung Chang was sent to Shimonoseki. The negotiations between these two powers, much to the disappointment of Germany, France, and Russia, were kept secret, Japan having no doubt detected a desire to interfere and being resolved to confront any protest with the fait accompli.

Her surmise was correct. When, on April 8,1895, it became known that the cession of the Liaotung Peninsula formed one of the articles of peace, proposals for joint action to avert this result were sent by the Russian government to Berlin, Paris, and London. Germany and France assented, and on April 22, the ministers of the three countries in Tokio made representations to the Japanese government urging the retrocession of the peninsula, ‘such territorial acquisition,’ in their pious phrase, ‘constituting a menace to the peace of the world.’

The answer of the Japanese government was delayed and might in the end have been unfavorable, had there not gone abroad the impression that the representations of the three powers, though couched in friendly terms, expressed a settled course of action. During the peace negotiations, the Russian fleet, assembled at Chefoo, made a demonstration which could leave no doubt in the minds of the Japanese that they were prepared to block any advance to Peking. Two German cruisers were also in the same port. To this was added the fact that the army and navy after the exertions of the past few months were not in a position to undertake new tasks.

Feeling that they had no other choice for the time than to bow to the inevitable, the Japanese government on May 10,1895, notified the three powers of its compliance. The victors were obliged to satisfy themselves with an indemnity of 30,000,000 taels and promised to withdraw their troops from Port Arthur and Wei Hai Wei within three months after the payment of that sum. At the last moment Japan attempted to secure an assurance that the Liaotung Peninsula would never be ceded to any other power; but for some reason, which became apparent only in the subsequent aggressive policy of Germany and Russia, the attempt was unsuccessful.


With Japan foiled, the two powers were free to pursue their separate designs. By the Cassini Convention Russia secured the right to build her railroad across Manchuria, and also a contingent interest in Port Arthur and a possible lease of Kiao-Chao Bay. Germany immediately began preparations for the seizure of some harbor on the Chinese coast. An expert was sent to the East to report on some point that would satisfy the requirements of a naval station. At various times in 1896 and 1897 German gunboats visited Kiao-Chao Bay and took soundings and observations. This point was finally selected and its acquisition was definitely determined upon. The plan was communicated to the Russian government and received its approval. This was clearly stated by the Foreign Secretary, Baron Marschall von Bieberstein, in a speech in the Reichstag toward the close of 1896. The interests of Germany and Russia, so the minister declared, were not confined to the European continent, ‘and these extra-continental interests,’ he continued, ‘will in all probability furnish us an opportunity of acting in harmony with the power with which we coöperated last year.’ Further confirmation of the thorough understanding between the two powers is found in the fact that the acquisition of Kiao-Chao by Germany was not regarded as infringing in any way the rights in this same territory which Russia had acquired by the Cassini Convention. Everything was ready for the final coup when, by a happy providence, on November 1, 1897, two German missionaries were murdered in the western part of Shantung Province.

It happened that the unfortunate victims were members of a Catholic society which but a few years before had been expelled from Germany. This fact was now overlooked. In fact, the outrage was most opportune in furnishing Germany with a pretext for the execution of plans which had long been awaiting consummation. On November 10,1897, a German squadron under the command of Admiral von Diederichs — he of Manila fame — arrived at the entrance of Kiao-Chao Bay and took up a position commanding the barracks and forts, and on the 14th a landing party took possession of the bay and the territory at its mouth, in the name of the German Emperor. On December 3 the large city of KiaoChao, twenty-five miles from the entrance to the bay, was captured, and the Chinese garrison compelled to evacuate. Cargoes of lumber and material began to arrive, and any idea that the German sojourn would be a short one was sufficiently refuted by the substantial barracks and dwellings which were rapidly erected.

With German forces already in possession, negotiations were opened at Peking. The German demands included: (1) An indemnity of two hundred thousand ounces of silver; (2) the rebuilding of a chapel; (3) the repayment of Germany’s expenses incurred in the occupation; (4) the dismissal of the governor of Shantung from the public service; (5) The punishment of the murderers; (6) Germans to have the sole right to develop railroads and mines in Shantung Province and to have a lease of Kiao-Chao as a naval station.

On November 20 the first meeting between Baron von Heyking, the German minister, and the members of the Chinese Foreign Office took place. The Chinese requested that the negotiations be deferred until Kiao-Chao Bay had been evacuated by the German forces. This was met with a decisive refusal. The request was repeated at a subsequent interview, and met with the same answer. On the ground that information in regard to the negotiations was getting abroad, the German minister now demanded that further conferences take place in his legation. Li Hung Chang and his colleagues were therefore compelled to submit to the humiliation of repairing to the legation to discuss this outrage upon Chinese sovereignty. Finding their opponent unyielding, the Chinese negotiators waived the evacuation of Kiao-Chao, and contented themselves with the request that Admiral von Diederichs be instructed to act with moderation, as disaffection was brewing among the people. About this time it was reported that the Emperor had signified to the Grand Council his willingness to accede to articles 1,2, and 5 of the German demands, but that as regarded the rest, he would lose his life and throne rather than give way to such preposterous claims. In their extremity, Li Hung Chang and his colleagues, recalling the friendly assistance given in 1895, had recourse to t he Russian and French legations, but found these deaf to their entreaties.

Contemporaneously with the seizure of Kiao-Chao it had been decided in Berlin to dispatch a squadron to the Far East with reinforcements and supplies. This expedition was entrusted to Prince Henry, the Kaiser’s brother. In December, on the eve of the departure of the expedition, occurred the banquet at Kiel, which has since become memorable. In a toast to the departing Prince, the Kaiser pointed out to him the objects of his mission: —

‘May every European in those distant regions, may every German merchant, and above all may the foreigner on whose soil we are or with whom we shall have to deal, be made aware that the German Michael has finally planted his shield with the device of the German eagle upon the soil, in order once for all to give his protection to all who may ask it. And may our countrymen in those regions, be they merchants, or be their business what it may, rest assured that the protection of the German Empire implied by the German ships of war will be steadily vouchsafed them. but should any one essay to detract from our just rights or to injure us, then up and at him with your mailed fist, and if it be God’s will, weave for your youthful brow a wreath of laurel which no one in all the German Empire will begrudge you.’

The Prince in reply, addressing His Majesty as ‘Most August Emperor, Most Mighty King and Lord, Illustrious Brother,’ spoke of the momentous epoch that had come to the nation and its deep significance for the navy, and assured him that neither fame nor laurel would have any charm for him. ’One aim draws me on — it is to declare in foreign lands the gospel of Your Majesty’s hallowed person, to preach it to every one who will hear, and also to those who will not. hear it. This gospel I will have inscribed on my banner, and I will inscribe it whithersoever I go.’

Meanwhile negotiations were proceeding in Peking. After wearying discussions leading to no conclusion, the Chinese negotiators finally, on January 2, 1898, assured Baron von Heyking that on the following day they would give him a definite answer. Instead of this, they appeared with all manner of excuses, alleging hopeless dissension among the members of the Tsungli Yamen. Thereupon the minister stated that he could have no further dealings with them, and the Chinese left the legation in great trepidation. On the next daY Baron von Heyking appeared at the Tsungli Yamen. The interpreter of the legation read a speech in which the minister referred to the consequences of further protracting the negotiations, and declared that the time had come for them to decide upon their course. The speech made a strong impression, and was received in deep silence. At a sign from Prince Kung, one of the ministers rose and stated that his government would accede to all the German demands.

The Kiao-Chao Convention was finally signed on March 6, 1898. The preamble reads: ‘The events connected with the mission in Shantung Province having been settled, the Imperial Chinese Government considers it fitting that it should in a special manner evidence its appreciation of the friendship which has always been manifested by Germany.’ The Convention then goes on to state that, with the object of fulfilling the natural desire of the Kaiser to possess, like other powers, a naval station on the Chinese coast, the Emperor of China leases to Germany for a period of ninety-nine years the entire area of Kiao-Chao Bay at high water, including its islands, the islands commanding the entrance to the bay, and the lands on either side of the entrance within certain boundaries. Besides the above territory, within which Germany was to exercise full sovereignty, the Convention provides for a neutral zone surrounding the bay and extending inland fifty kilometers from high water. Within this zone China retained sovereignty, but no measures of any kind were to be taken without the consent of the German government. The special privileges accorded Germany in Shantung included: (1) Concessions for three lines of railroad, one connecting Kiao-Chao with Chinan-fu, the capital, in the western part of the province; another connecting Kiao-Chao with Ichou-fu in the south; and a third connecting Ichou-fu and Chinan-fu; these lines to be constructed by a German-Chinese company. (2) The exclusive right to develop mines within a zone extending for fifteen kilometers on either side of the lines of railroad above described. (3) Preference to be given to German manufacturers and capitalists in all enterprises for the development of Shantung Province.


The Kiao-Chao affair marks so decided a change in the relations of the powers to China that in order to appreciate its significance it is necessary to point out briefly the various phases through which those relations have passed since their inception. As already noted, foreign intercourse was first put upon a formal basis by the Treaty of Nankin, concluded between England and China in 1842. Previous to that event foreigners were treated as barbarians, as possessing no rights whatever, and were subjected to all the indignities that Chinese officials could cast upon them. Nor did the Treaty of Nankin bring about an immediate improvement. The Chinese were not prepared to regard foreign states or their representatives and subjects as in any degree their equals. The records of the treaty as well as of the subsequent treaties with the United States and France were relegated to provincial archives as unworthy of imperial notice, and the officials in their intercourse with foreign representatives did everything in the way of evasion, delay, and petty indignities, to manifest their contempt.

The intolerable attitude of the Chinese government brought on a second war. This culminated in 1860 in the occupation of Peking by the allied French and British — an event which marked the next phase in the relations of China with the powers. New treaties were made, and the Chinese government was compelled, at least outwardly, to abandon its previous position and to treat foreign governments on a basis of equality. Henceforth their representatives were allowed to reside in Peking and to negotiate directly with the Imperial Government through a Board of Foreign Affairs, known as the Tsungli Yamen, which was specially created for the purpose. Foreign governments, in their turn, though the weakness and imbecility of Chinese officialdom had been amply demonstrated, continued to treat China with all the deference due to a first-class power and a recognized member of the community of nations. Great concessions, it is true, were obtained by some of them from China, but the government was at least permitted to maintain the appearance of freedom of action, and its dignity was preserved. The period from 1860 to 1897 may therefore be characterized as one of mutual recognition on the part of China and the powers of their equal rights and dignities as independent states.

With the seizure of Kiao-Chao these relations passed into still another stage. The precipitate and inconsiderate action of the Germans proclaimed to the world that China was beyond the pale of international comity, and that henceforth she was to be regarded as the legitimate spoil of western powers. Within a month the example of the Germans was followed by the Russians at Port Arthur. In December, 1897, the Russian fleet took up its winter quarters in the harbor, and with the prize already in her possession, Russia opened negotiations with the Chinese government. On March 27, 1898, three weeks after the signature of the Kiao-Chao Convention, an agreement was concluded which placed Russia in possession, not only of Port Arthur, but of Talienwan and the adjacent territories and waters, for a period of twenty-five years. Five days later Great Britain acquired the right to occupy Wei Hai Wei for such time as Russia might remain in Port Arthur. In the same month, France obtained a lease of the Bay of Kwang Chow Wan on the southern coast of China, opposite the Island of Hainan. Even Italy, a power which so far had hardly been heard in Chinese affairs, instructed her naval officers to select some desirable harbor and then began to clamor for the possession of an inlet on the coast of Chekiang. The Empire, indeed, seemed to have become the unhappy victim of an exciting game of grab among the powers. As the Empress Dowager expressed it in a decree published early in 1900: ‘The various powers cast upon us looks of tiger-like voracity, hustling each other in their endeavors to be the first to seize upon our inmost territory.’

All these accumulated disasters the officials and the educated Chinese traced directly to the seizure of KiaoChao. The assurance with which the Germans had planted their standard upon Chinese soil was a painful wound to Chinese pride. That stood forth as an example of colossal highhandedness, and supplied the precedent and excuse for all these subsequent aggressions. The antipathy toward foreigners latent in their minds was stirred to a bitter enmity, which awaited only an opportunity for expression.

So far as the common people were concerned, it is not likely that without other causes the seizure of a few ports would have been sufficient to instigate them generally to acts of violence. So long as they were not interfered with, the people in the interior would doubtless have gone their way, leaving their countrymen in the immediate neighborhood of the alienated territories to adapt themselves to the new conditions as best they could. But the Kiao-Chao Convention provided for special mining and railroad concessions throughout the Province of Shantung. A district sacred to the traditions of Confucius, which previously had seen but few foreigners, now became the field of operation for engineers and prospectors. To the natives the strangers seemed to be asserting very substantial proprietary rights over the entire country.

Railroad construction was carried on with a peculiar disregard for their prejudices and even for their rights. Shantung, like the other provinces of China, is dotted with graves which are regarded by the people with a religious veneration. These were frequently violated. The railroad embankment in places was constructed without adequate provision for drainage, and large areas were inundated during the heavy rains. More than once during 1899 and 1900 the operations were interrupted by armed resistance. The whole countryside would rise in revolt, expel the engineers and workmen, and fortify their villages against a return of the intruders. Usually a body of German troops with machine guns would be dispatched to the disaffected district, and the road would be cleared after severe skirmishing. In fact, the mailed fist was rapidly becoming a stern reality to a large part of the population of Shantung.


The hostility to the Germans, and incidentally to all foreigners, now took tangible form in the society which has since come to be known as the Boxers. It is unnecessary to recount the dreary list of murders, attacks, and pillagings which crowded the years 1898 and 1899 as harbingers of the storm which was to break in fury in 1900. Suffice it to remark that with but few exceptions these outbreaks occurred in Shantung Province, within an area which is roughly bounded by the routes of the three lines of railroad provided for in the Kiao-Chao Convention. From this area it spread westward to Szechuen, and early in 1900 north to Chihli. By June, 1900, the legations in Peking were cut off from the rest of the world and were in a state of siege. A few days later Baron von Ketteler, the German minister, was murdered while on his way to the Tsungli Yamen. He had been singled out by the Chinese for special vengeance, and he undoubtedly fell a victim to the high-handed policy which Germany had pursued.

While the occupants of the legations were fighting for their very lives against fearful odds, and while Admiral Seymour was vainly endeavoring with his inadequate force to cut his way through to Peking, the British government approached the other powers with the proposal that in view of the extremity of the situation the Japanese government be requested, on behalf of the powers, to embark at once an army sufficient for the immediate relief of Peking. The proposal received the cordial support of the United States. Russia and Germany, however, held aloof, arguing against giving any power ‘a mandate for separate action on any special condition or any claim to a preponderating voice in guidance based upon the relative amount of force supplied or the services rendered to the common cause.’ The fact is, Russia discerned in the crisis an admirable opportunity for perfecting her schemes in Manchuria. The Kaiser saw in it the means of gratifying his aspirations for increased power and prestige. Humanitarian considerations had to wait upon the demands of German and Russian policy.

In the meantime Germany was preparing an expedition which should eclipse any foreign army that had ever appeared in the Far East. A force of seventeen thousand men, drawn from all branches of the service, and known as the German East Asiatic Expeditionary Corps, was organized. On July 27, 1900, the first transport sailed from Bremerhaven, the Kaiser bidding the men farewell in the following words: ‘Remember when you meet the foe that quarter will not be given, and that prisoners will not be taken. Wield your weapons so that for a thousand years no Chinese will dare to look askance at a German. Pave the way once for all for civilization. Good-bye, my comrades.’

There were now present in North China, in varying strengths, German, British, French, American, Japanese, Russian, Italian, and Austrian contingents. As all were ostensibly pursuing the same object, namely, the relief of the legations, circumstances seemed to point to a united command. Thereupon the Russian government approached the powers with the suggestion that a commander-in-chief over all the allied forces in China be selected. The suggestion, however, was coupled with the stipulation that the united command should apply only to the troops engaged in Chihli, Russia reserving to herself the right of independent action in the portions of the Empire bordering her own territory and her railroad, leaving other powers similar freedom of action ‘where their own territory and special interests were more immediately concerned.’

The proposal was an important part of the Russo-German programme, and never did two powers play into each other’s hands more effectively. The situation, too, was favorable. It was claimed that England would never consent to placing her troops under either a Russian or a French commander; on the other hand, neither Russia nor France would consent to British leadership. As a matter of principle, the United States would not undertake the task, as it would lead her too far afield from her announced policy. Japan, an Asiatic nation, could hardly lay claim to the chief command over troops the majority of whom were European. By a process of elimination, the choice seemed to fall on Germany, not because the German commander would be the most acceptable, but because less objection could be raised to his appointment than to any other.

By the end of July the Kaiser and the Czar had agreed upon the appointment of Field-Marshal Count von Waldersee as commander-in-chief of the allied forces. The appointment was announced to the world, with special emphasis upon the fact that it had received the approval of the Czar. In his farewell speech to the count, the Kaiser again alluded to the subject by saying, ‘It is of great significance that your appointment from the outset received the support and approval of the Emperor of all the Russias, the mighty ruler who makes his power felt throughout the continent of Asia. This again shows how closely united are the traditions in arms of the two empires.’

Admiral Seymour was compelled by insurmountable obstacles to abandon his expedition to Peking. By August 7, however, reinforcements had arrived at Tientsin, and a new force composed of Japanese, Russians, British, Americans, and French took up the march to the capital. On the 14th they reached Peking and the legations were saved. The first ships of the German East Asiatic Expedition were hardly under way when this news was flashed around the world. Before the German commander-in-chief had started, the United States, Japan, and England were already preparing to withdraw their troops from the North. When Count von Waldersee arrived at Taku toward the end of September, he met the transports of Japan and the United States preparing to reëmbark their contingents. The United States took no part in the subsequent military operations, if they can be dignified by this term, nor were our troops ever placed under the orders of the German commander. In fact, except for the usual bands of marauders, there was no one left to fight. With the capture of Peking the Boxer hordes had vanished like the morning mists. There seemed little for the Germans to do except to make themselves comfortable in winter quarters and digest their chagrin as best they could.

On October 17, escorted by officers and men from the various contingents, Count von Waldersee made his public entry into the capital. Before the relief of the legations the Empress Dowager, the Emperor, and the entire court had fled, and the count now decided to take up his headquarters in the Winter Palace. This occupies the western portion of the imperial inclosure in the centre of the Manchu city of Peking. It is separated from the rest of the palace grounds by a lotus pond which is crossed by two bridges, one of marble, the other of wood.

The ceremonial of the court had reserved the wooden bridge for the exclusive use of the Emperor himself, nor had any one been allowed to enter the imperial inclosure except on foot. But now the deserted courts of the palace resounded with hoofbeats, and the sacred precincts were thronged with German soldiers. Count von Waldersee crossed to the Winter Palace over the wooden passageway, while a salute was fired from the marble bridge. These measures had the desired effect on the natives. Long after, in remote regions of Mongolia, where the German name hitherto had never been heard, it was said about the camp-fires that a German general was now Emperor of China; for did he not live in the palace at Peking?

The only military operations having been concluded before the arrival of the expeditionary corps, the German troops were obliged to content themselves with police duty. An expedition to the city of Paotingfu and another to the city of Kalgan were organized. Numerous patrols were sent over the province. These soon degenerated into the so-called punitive expedition which became a feature of the German occupation. Every petty officer seemed to have a cartel to devastate the country and levy on the inhabitants. Villages that had been used as Boxer headquarters, or where arms were discovered, were burned to the ground and the inhabitants killed or driven away. Of the indemnities collected, no estimate can be formed. An assault on a German soldier, a reported conspiracy, or the grievances of native Christians, furnished sufficient excuse for demanding money payments or for proceeding to harsher measures.

The necessary result of the German policy was a condition of anarchy which soon prevailed throughout the Province of Chihli. Though no attempt was made to replace it, the Chinese civil authority was prostrated. The native troops upon whom the government relied for the suppression of disorder and brigandage had been driven out of the province in pursuance of Von Waldersee’s programme. The officials were not even allowed to keep arms and ammunition. Nor could they be expected to inspire a respect for authority among their own countrymen when their own dignity was liable to be assailed at any moment by foreign officers and soldiers. Repeatedly magistrates were haled before military officers, their conduct was inquired into, and they themselves were subjected to punishment.

The German soldiers soon wearied of the life in China. The duty to which they were assigned was a disappointing anticlimax to their anticipations of stubborn encounters and hard-fought fields which would go down in history along with the exploits of 1870. By the spring of 1901 all the other contingents had been withdrawn. The Germans were thus left in conspicuous isolation and their departure could not long be delayed. In June Count von Waldersee left Peking and preparations were made to bring back the expedition.

With regard to its ostensible object — the suppression of disorder and the restoration of peace — the expedition had been an unqualified failure. It arrived on the scene too late to be of any practical service, and the policy pursued by Von Waldersee intensified and prolonged the disorder in North China. The return of the court to Peking, which was generally regarded as the preliminary to a final settlement, was delayed by the presence of the German troops. The ulterior object of the expedition—to furnish a striking object-lesson of the power and resource of Germany — was undoubtedly attained. Districts in which the name of Germany had never been heard were made acquainted with the Kaiser’s soldiery, and long afterwards ruined hamlets and gaping walls were eloquent reminders of a new name in the peasant vocabulary. In the final adjustment the entire expense for the expedition was saddled upon China, thus greatly burdening her resources and delaying a return to normal conditions. The German indemnity was exceeded only by the Russian, and nearly the entire amount of the 272,000,000 marks was represented by the cost of this unnecessary and baleful expedition.


The German Expeditionary Corps, far out of proportion to the other contingents or to Germany’s real interest, pointed to ulterior objects. These soon became apparent. As a result of the agreement reached in London in 1898 between the German and British railroad syndicates, the Yangtze valley had come to be regarded as the sphere of British influence, while the Province of Shantung was assigned to Germany. The British government, however, declared its unalterable purpose of maintaining the principle of the open door. In 1900 the two governments subscribed a memorandum in which they pledged themselves to preserve equality of opportunity for all nations in Chinese territory. The news of this agreement was hailed with enthusiasm in Japan. The government saw therein the opportunity for joint action with Germany and England in arresting the Russian advance. At its request the Japanese government was permitted to subscribe the declaration on the same basis as the original signatories.

The memorandum, on its face, seems to contain a declaration of principles applicable to all Chinese territory. From the first, however, all well-informed organs of public opinion in Germany repudiated the idea that it had any application to Manchuria. Some journals, generally regarded as officially inspired, went so far as to say that the agreement formed an important part of the Russo-German programme, and that it left Russia free to work out her plans in Manchuria while keeping the way open for her to the heart of China, whither Russian influence was being extended by the construction of the Peking-Hankow railroad,— the latter ostensibly a Belgian enterprise.

The German expedition was vital to this programme. It enabled the two governments to hold in check Great Britain, Japan, or any other power that might protest, while Russia pursued unmolested her schemes of assimilation in Manchuria. On the arrival of the German troops, Russia, ostentatiously disclaiming any designs upon Chinese territory, announced her intention of withdrawing her forces. They were withdrawn—but to Newchwang, the seaport of Manchuria. From this base the Russian troops moved northward to meet two armies that were sweeping southward from Siberia. By the end of the year every important strategic position between the Yellow Sea and the Amur River had been occupied by the Czar’s forces, the railroads were lined with troops, the Chinese telegraphs appropriated, and Manchuria, to all intents and purposes, was a Russian province. Thereupon a convention sanctioning these aggressions was demanded of China. The terms proposed immediately aroused a storm of protest. The United States issued a circular note stating that it was inexpedient for the Chinese government to make any separate agreement with any power while the negotiations for an adjustment of the Boxer troubles were still in progress. The Anglo-German agreement was called to mind, and popular opinion in England and Japan looked to it as a bulwark against the threatened appropriation. Germany now came to the support of her confederate. Whatever delusions might have been entertained with regard to the scope of the agreement were soon dispelled by Count von Bülow. In a speech in the Reichstag, the Imperial Chancellor announced that the agreement had no application to Manchuria; that there were no German interests there; and that nothing could concern Germany less than the fate of that province.

The Russo-German conspiracy was thus revealed. The German East Asiatic Expedition had been organized and sent out as a part of a general scheme of aggression. China paid the entire expense, and in return was to have the privilege of seeing other powers held in check while she was despoiled of her northern provinces. By its means the Russian annexation of Manchuria was to be accomplished and the German Empire in Northern China founded, with the possibility, in the end, of a German viceroy or resident in Peking. Only the complete collapse of the Boxer uprising, which removed any pretext for the continued presence of the German army, together with the decided stand taken by the United States, prevented the consummation of the plan.

In Japan, however, the sense of injury caused by the action of Germany in 1895 was intensified. She had assisted in robbing the nation of the fruits of her victory only to facilitate their appropriation by her rival.

But the issue was now clear before the world — a China with closed markets partitioned out between the powers, or a China with territory intact developing an enlightened nationality and patriotism and offering equal opportunity to all. On the one side were ranged Germany and Russia; on the other, the United States, England, and Japan; the opposing ideas — Russian bureaucracy, German military despotism, refined materialism, the exploitation of the inferior for the benefit of the so-called superior, the doctrine of the superman and of the mailed fist, as against racial and territorial integrity, national enlightenment, and popular government.


Events now moved rapidly. While Russia was pouring her soldiers into Manchuria and fortifying Port Arthur, Germany proceeded with equal energy to strengthen her position in Shantung. The old village of Tsingtau had been razed, and, as if by magic, a town of German architecture took its place. The harbor was developed, wharves built, and all the appliances for handling a large commerce installed. A dry dock was brought out from Germany. The railroad was pushed to completion, and by 1904 was in operation. Five million dollars, according to official accounts, which probably do not include all appropriations, were spent in fortifying the heights commanding the entrance of Kiao-Chao Bay, and a garrison of three thousand men placed behind the guns. In order that German interests might be independent of the British cable lines, the government, in conjunction with the government of Holland, organized and subsidized a new company. In 1904 a cable was laid from Shanghai to Jap, an island in the Caroline Group. At Guam connection was made with the American Pacific Cable. Another cable was laid from Shanghai to Tsingtau, Chefoo, and Tientsin. German shipping was assisted with subsidies, and German commerce encouraged by every facility the government could provide.

Japan’s preparation was just as energetic, and even more thorough. Much is being said to-day of Germany’s mission as a civilizing power whose destiny demands that she impose her so-called ‘Kultur’ upon all mankind. Germany can boast at least one foster child that has more than profited by her instruction. Japan’s military system, to its minutest details, was borrowed from Germany; during the Russo-Japanese war, she employed the same methods of espionage that are puzzling the Allies to-day; Japanese jurisprudence is the work of German professors; her scientists, physicians, and technologists are the products of German schools; in commerce she has adopted German methods, and she is Germany’s most dangerous competitor in the sundry ‘muck-and-truck’ trade of the Orient. In fact, the very resources which Japan was to marshal, first against Port Arthur, and ten years later against Tsingtau, were developed under German tutorship. At the same time, Japan is the most striking refutation of Germany’s claim to universal empire. The intellectual debt of the Mikado’s people should have produced a feeling of kinship far stronger than treaties. But it is the defect of German materialism, as well as of the philosophy of the mailed fist, that it fails to awaken any spiritual response.


Sooner than was expected, the issue was submitted to the arbitrament of war. When, in February, 1904, the Japanese torpedo flotilla appeared off Port Arthur, the world knew that the inevitable conflict had begun. With ill-concealed partisanship, Germany watched the struggle. Had she dared, she would gladly have taken part. The fall of Port Arthur, the sea fight of Tsushima, and the battle of Moukden, put an end to the dream of Russian empire in Manchuria.

‘Bismarck wrong again,’ we can imagine the Kaiser saying to himself, as he surveyed the Russian disaster and realized how completely the traditions of Russian military power had been shattered. The downfall of her ally left Germany isolated as the only power whose policy in the Orient demanded partition. But that policy was now obsolete. It was only a question of time when Germany would be compelled to withdraw the mailed fist. Historically, it is only a step from Port Arthur to the surrender of Tsingtau.

Meanwhile another force had been gathering momentum. The Boxer deluge had left behind it in China an awakened national consciousness which year by year sought more intelligent and effective expression. The years following 1900 were marked by an intellectual awakening, such as had never been known. The victories of Japan gave it an added stimulus. Students went abroad by the thousands; hundreds of foreign books were translated into Chinese; newspapers were established, and found everywhere eager readers.

Young China had learned that foreign railroads and foreign loans were potent instrumentalities of aggression; no more concessions should be granted, existing railroads should be repurchased, and China should incur no further obligations to European bankers. Foreign institutions were studied, and far-reaching reforms in government, and in administration were introduced. Provincial legislative assemblies were established, an imperial parliament was projected, and finally, the republic was inaugurated. The new enlightenment would in the end have been just as effective as Japanese arms in opposing German policy.