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The Impact of the Paris 1919 Peace Conference on Japan and China
During the late 1800’s, the continent of Asia was unstable and was experiencing turbulent change. Specifically, Japan and China had an ethnocentric view of their own civilizations, for they strived to remain isolated from Western culture, viewing themselves as far more superior than European societies. However, they were not able to remain isolated, as the British penetrated into China, while the U.S. was able to open trade with Japan. Thus, these countries became increasingly influenced by Western ideologies and technology. Japan was inspired by Otto Von Bismarck’s Reich of Germany and adopted it as their model for national growth. Meanwhile, the Qing dynasty of China became increasingly weak and on the verge of collapse, as it lost the Opium wars to Great Britain. As a result, it allowed the British and other European nations to carve up China, as each claimed their own territory for trading purposes. In order to understand the impact of the Paris 1919 Peace Conference on Japan and China, it is necessary to assess the relationship between the two countries and how each country developed with the influence of Western ideologies. Whether it is identifying the strength of Japanese military power or analyzing the clash of communism and democracy in China, the turbulent transformation in Asia was one that signified both countries abandoning their own ethnocentrism in replacement of Western ideologies that were fueled by Social Darwinism. Japan and China realized that it was crucial to adopt Western ideas in order to create and develop new societies that would survive and become the fittest among nations. In regards to Japan becoming a major power in Asia, a letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Senator Knox in 1909 documents the concern of the threat of Japan. As Japan replaced the Tokugawa government of samurais with the Meiji authority that restored imperial power, they referred to Bismarck’s Germany as the essential model for rebuilding their nation. From industrialization to expanding their military with advanced artillery and weaponry, Japan was inspired to become a major world power that mirrored and competed with the European nations. Roosevelt identifies Japan as a “most formidable military power” that had great confidence from defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, yet in an anxious state from striving to have equal status with European powers (9). In other words, Japan highly regarded its own status as an Allied power, as its military strength and expansion signified the identity of a world power. Similar to how the European nations competed to claim territories in Africa and later fight for trading areas in China, Japan realized that it was crucial to utilize its military power in order to conquer territories in Asia. Mainly, Japan laid its eyes on the Chinese territory of Manchuria and Shantung in order to have “geographical, commercial, industrial and strategic relations” with other nations, as it was advantageous for their imperialistic objectives (18). In order to seize these territories, Japan employed its status as a military power and secretly gave China an ultimatum in 1915. The “21 Demands” was successful mainly because of the threat of war, as China could not afford to engage in another battle; it was plagued with internal strife and still suffered from fighting with the British. Thus, Japan not only obtained the territories that it had sought, but also received the authority to build multiple railways. As the article demanded for the Chinese government to “grant to the Japanese subjects the right of mining in South Manchuria and Eastern Inner Mongolia”, railways were crucial for transporting resources for trade and commercial purposes (15). New railways were necessary in order to connect ports, such as Lungkow and Chefoo with the Kiaochou Tsinanfu Railway. The means of transportation became essential, as...
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