100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Japan Makes Twenty-One Demands of China

The Xinhai Revolution in China began in October 1911. There had been unrest due to Imperial favoritism to Western investors over Chinese interests and several smaller revolts but when a bomb exploded accidentally that implicated Imperial Army officers in Wuchang, China rather than wait to be arrested, the officers started a rebellion that spiraled out of control and resulted in the downfall of the Manchus that had ruled China for 300 years. In January 1912 Dr. Sun Yat Sen is named the first president of the Republic of China.

Yuan Shikai

Yuan Shikai

A former Imperial general Yuan Shi Kai controlled the Imperial Army and became the chief negotiator between the Imperial throne and the rebellious forces in China. He becomes prime minister and works out a deal with Sun Yat Sen to share power. In February 1912 the Emperor abdicates and as previously agreed, Sun Yat Sen resigns and Yuan Shi Kai becomes president of the Chinese Republic.Unfortunately, Yuan has no interest in establishing a working democracy and is more interested in securing his own power. He constantly fights with political rivals won’t give him the autocratic power he desires.

Japan had gained a large sphere of interest in northern China and Manchuria through its victories in the First Sino-Japanese War(1895) and the Russo-Japanese War(1905). With the outbreak of war in Europe, Japan hoped to seize the German spheres of influence in China, and also gain new powers over the weak Chinese government and making China little more than a puppet state. Prime Minister Ōkuma Shigenobu and Foreign Minister Katō Takaaki have drafted the initial list of demands, which were reviewed by the genrō and Emperor Taishō, and approved by the Diet.

Japanese Prime Minister Ōkuma Shigenobu,

Japanese Prime Minister Ōkuma Shigenobu,

On January 18, 1915 Japan presented Yuan Shikai a list called The Twenty-One Demands with warnings of dire consequences if China were to reject them. They included seizure of German ports, total control over railroad and mining zones, elimination of China granting access to islands or posts to any other foreign country except Japan and Japan taking over total control of China’s economy and police forces.

The text of The Twenty-One Demands :http://www.chinaforeignrelations.net/node/178

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