The Triple Intervention (三国干渉)
The Triple Intervention refers to the recommendation made by France, the German Empire and the Russian Empire to Japan on April 23, 1895 that Liaodong Peninsula which was given to the Japan Empire as wartime reparation based on the Treaty of Shimonoseki be returned to Qing, China.
Japanese-Sino War and European Powers
When Japan was a step away from winning the Japanese-Sino War, European powerful countries acknowledged the significant risk involved and started considering intervention in Japan. The effort was lead by Russia, but it is said that without Germany, the intervention could not be realized. With Germany's decision to participate in the intervention in Japan, Russia, which was afraid of the power of Germany, a neighbor in the west, could focus more on its eastern rival, Japan.
In addition, the world powers were stunned to know that Japan demanded the cession of the Liaodong Peninsula from Qing in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The world powers promoted the 'division of China' as the Qing Dynasty weakened, but their efforts were slow for fear of resistance in China and they refrained from making conspicuous demands for territorial rights in China except Hong Kong which was colonized by the United Kingdom as reparations in the Opium War. Therefore, the Japan's demand for the Liaodong Peninsula broke the 'tacit agreement' among the world powers and also influenced the policy of each country toward China, because if the Qing Dynasty lost the Liaodong Peninsula which was located on the opposite side of the Choku-rei region across Bokkai (marine area), Qing's political power would fall, which might result in a precarious political situation of China.
Therefore, Germany and Russia objected to the Japan's demand in order to maintain their policies on China. Also, at the series of peace conferences, Japan requested Qing to give it a right to do manufacturing business at markets and ports of Qing. However, as Japan did not have enough funds to realize the business, it confided in only the United Kingdom about the demand and asked it to join the business in partnership. However, the other world powers, including Germany, Russia and France, noticed the demand and hardened their stance toward Japan even more.
Gist of the Recommendation
Aquisition of the Liaodong Peninsula by Japan not only threatens Beijing City, a capital of Qing, but also undermines the independence of the Joseon Dynasty and hinders the efforts of establishing peace in the Far East.'
Hence, we recommend Japan to abandon control over the Peninsula to foster friendly relations.'
Calculation of World Powers
Russia wanted to acquire an ice-free port to advance to the Far East, while trying to expand its interests in Manchuria by the policy of the southward expansion. Russia wanted to prevent Japan from advancing to the Far East, as it might lose its ports in southern Manchuria if Japan ruled over the Liaodong Peninsula. Originally, Russia took the view that if Japan respected the independence of Korea, Russia would not contend the occupation of China by Japan, but Sergei Yul'jevich Witte changed the policy and Russia began interfering with Japan's affairs by deploying fleets in the Far East.
Russia consulted with other three nations, England, France and Germany, which were also interested in the division of China, France and Germany agreed with the Rassian proposal and the three nations made a recommendation to Japan.
Although Germany was not very passionate about expanding to the Far East at the beginning of Japanese-Sino War, it began to acknowledge that it was the right time for Germany to obtain a foothold in the Far East amid a changing course of the war and also changing stances of the other world powers. Germany once conveyed its consent to the peace conditions to Japan on April 6, but Germany's then-prime minister, Chlodwig Karl Victor Fürst zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, and then-foreign minister, Marshall, proposed a concerted intervention in Japan's affairs with other world powers. In the end, Germany began the coordinated intervention with Russia after obtaining the approval from German Emperor, Wilhelm II.
According to a written statement, the concerted intervention with Russia was acknowledged among the high officials as the only way to get a cession or a lease of fleets and coal yards from Qing, as Qing would feel obligated to do so if the intervention was successful. The reasons why Germany joined the intervention was 1. to impede closer ties between Russia and France, 2. to divert Russia's attention from Europe to the Far East to lessen its threat to Europe, 3. to fulfill its own ambition in the Far East, and 4. to combat the 'yellow peril' claimed by the Emperor himself.
France cooperated with Russia to enforce the secret alliance with Russia (Franco-Russian Alliance) signed in 1892, and also it considered an easing of tensions between Russia and Germany would bring peace to France.
England and America
Although Russia and Germany asked for a coordinated intervention from the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom refused it based on opposing public opinions, whereas the United States of America did not break neutrality toward Japan although the U.S. was favorable to Japan.
Reaction of Japan
In response to the coordinated interventions, then-Japanese prime minister, Hirofumi ITO, made a proposal to the congress to hold a conference with the world powers, but then-foreign minister, Munemitsu MUTSU, claimed it might cause further intervention and proposed instead to invite other world powers, such as the UK, the U.S.A. and Italy, to counter and revoke the recommendation. However, as the UK and the U.S.A. declared their neutrality, Japan was forced to accept the recommendation and received 45 million yen instead from Qing based on a newly-signed refund treaty.
Although the Japanese strongly accused the government of its acceptance of the recommendation, the Japanese government transformed the anger to hostility against Russia and proceeded with military expansion with projects, including 'rokuroku kantai keikaku' (literally, 66 fleets project) with the slogan, 'endurance of hardship'. The Triple Intervention triggered the Japanese-Russo War both directly and indirectly.
Outcome of the Intervention
After the intervention, the world powers gained more momentum to divide and colonize China as the UK did with Hong Kong after the Opium Wars.
Germany occupied the Jiaozhou Bay in 1897 for the killing of its missionary and obtained the sovereignty of the land in the following year.
In 1899, also France obtained the sovereignty of the area around the Canton Bay, and the UK, in the Kowloon Peninsula and Weihaiwei.
Russia also succeeded in leasing Lushun area and Dalian City, both southern parts of Liaodong Peninsula in 1898 by signing the Russia-Qing secret agreement in 1896 by giving a bribe of 500 thousands rubles to then-Chinese prime minister, Li Hongzhang, and 250 thousands rubles to then-deputy prime minister, Zhang Yinhuan. Russia also expanded its influence area to regions north of the Great Wall of China and Manchuria, fulfilling its ambitions in the far East one by one.
Meanwhile, Japan requested and obtained an agreement not to lease or cede Fujian Province, a neighbor of newly obtained Taiwan, to any other countries, which was a minimum defense demand Japan could make.
In Korea, the intervention encouraged the rise of pro-Russian politicians, such as Queen Min.