We Come Now To The Most Memorable Event In The Modern History Of China
Since The Taeping Rebellion; To Wit, The War With Japan.
In order to
comprehend, however, the causes of this contest between the two chief
races of the Far East, it is necessary to review the development of the
Corean question which gave rise to it.
There seems to be no doubt that
Japan derived its first civilizing settlers, and most of its arts and
industries, from the Corean peninsula. It is certain that, for centuries,
the intercourse between the two countries was very close, and that more
than one attempt was made by Japanese rulers to subjugate Corea. The
latest and most strenuous endeavor to that end was made near the end of
the sixteenth century, and, although it resulted in a temporary occupation
of the peninsula, the Japanese troops were eventually withdrawn, and Corea
resumed its former status of a kingdom tributary to the Celestial Empire.
Thenceforth, for almost three centuries, Corea and Tonquin bore, in
theory, precisely the same relation to the Middle Kingdom. In each
instance, the practical question was whether China was strong enough to
make good her nominal rights. The outcome of her resistance to French
aggression in Tonquin had shown that there, at least, she had no such
power. But, in the subsequent ten years, efforts had been made to organize
an efficient army and navy, and the belief was entertained at Pekin that
China was at all events strong enough to uphold her claims in Corea, which
was, geographically and strategically, of far more importance to the
Middle Kingdom than was Tonquin.
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