Kritik – Empirie – Theorie / Festschrift für Mechthild Leutner
Edited By Katja Levy
Susanne Kuß - China in the First World War: Foreign Experiences in the ‘European War’
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China in the First World War: Foreign Experiences in the ‘European War’
Abstract: This paper analyses Chinese interests in the First World War. Seeking to strengthen China’s position, the various rival groupings in China developed a consensus focusing on regaining national sovereignty. The popular appeal to Chinese patriotism ensured that this position gathered popular support.
China’s participation in the First World War was conditioned by the European imperial presence in East Asia. The colonial system of ‘unequal treaties,’ protectorates, settlements and spheres of influence which it entailed, significantly curtailed Chinese sovereignty. This system of foreign domination was reinforced by the consequences for China of the Boxer war (1900/01). Supressing the Boxer rebellion in the short-term, this ‘war of the world in China’, in the long term, eventually led to the collapse of the Qing dynasty (1911) and the thorough-going extension of foreign influence over Chinese economic, political and cultural life.1
The Chinese experience of the First World War was made in a number of contexts. Suffering a British-Japanese invasion and subsequent Japanese occupation, the Chinese government at first made only an indirect contribution to the Allied cause through the dispatch of some 150,000 labourers to France in 1916. The formal declaration of war on the Central Powers was made in August 1917. A Chinese delegation was sent to the conference at Versailles in 1919; she joined the League of Nations as a founder member in...
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