The Sino-Japanese War, 1894-1895

Seo-Hyun Park

Cambridge University Press



Leading explanations for the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895 using international relations theory adopt some version of the “rise of Japan” narrative. The focus of these studies is to explain the outbreak of war in 1894 as a result of the disruption in the systemic status quo or as an early warning signal toward Japan’s expansionism by highlighting the newly acquired military power and status of Japan – and the challenge this posed to China. Rather than treating the war as a purely bilateral interstate conflict, I instead characterize the clash between China and Japan in the late nineteenth century as part of a series of militarized crises involving multiple stakeholders from both in and out of the region during the breakdown of the treaty port system in East Asia. I also show how the Sino-Japanese War had both immediate and enduring consequences for East Asian international relations: intensified strategic competition over East Asian territories among not only Japan and China but Western powers such as Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States.

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