The Start of “Sick Man of Asia”: the 1895 Sino-Japanese War
No country on earth has suffered a more bitter history in modern times than China. In the second half of the 19th century, it was viewed as doomed to extinction. Its imperial rulers, heading an anachronistic regime, were brought low by enormous revolts, a disaffected gentry glass, Western incursions to “split the Chinese melon” and a disastrous defeat by Japan. Rocked by such a large amount of factors, China declined from the height it had reached less than a hundred years earlier, appeared as “Sick Man of Asia” in western’s eyes.
This study aims to explore the historical significance of the term “Sick Man of Asia”. The idea ...view middle of the document...
However, China continued to assert influence over Korea, despite Japan's moves to dominate it. Public opinion in Korea was split, with conservatives wanting to retain a traditional relationship with China, while reformists wanted the country to establish closer ties with Japan and modernize.
Following the assassination of a pro-Japanese reformist in 1894, a Korean religious sect, the Tonghak , began the Tonghak Peasant Revolution. The Korean government requested help from China in suppressing it. When China contributed assistance, the Japanese government sent an expedition in support of the reformists, and had seized the royal palace in Seoul by June 8, 1894. War between Japan and China was officially declared on August 1, though some naval fighting had already taken place.
The more modern Japanese army defeated the Chinese in a series of battles around Seoul and Pyongyang, forcing them north, and by November 21 the Japanese had taken Port Arthur (now known as Lushun). The Japanese navy devastated China's northern fleet off the mouth of the Yalu River at the Battle of Yalu. The Battle of the Yalu River also called simply 'The Battle of Yalu' took place on September 17 1894. It involved the Japanese and the Chinese navies, and was the largest naval engagement of the First Sino-Japanese War. The Yalu River is the border between on September 17, 1894. The Chinese fleet lost 8 out of 12 warships, retreated behind the fortifications of the Weihaiwei naval base, and was then caught by a surprise Japanese land attack across the Liaodong Peninsula, which shattered the ships in harbor with shelling from the landward side. After Weihaiwei's fall on February 2 and an easing of harsh winter conditions, Japanese troops pressed their advance into Manchuria.
Faced with these repeated defeats China signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 17 April, 1895. China recognized the total independence of Korea and ceded the Liaodong Peninsula, Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to Japan “in perpetuity”.
The Idea Of “Sick Man”
After the lost of the 1895 Sino-Japanese War, the idea of “Sick Man of Asia” started appearing in western’s eyes. Later on, it has long been regarded by many Chinese as an epithet ruthlessly imposed upon China by the Western imperialists to humiliate both China and Chinese people, especially the poor physical quality of the Chinese people. For example, during the Olympic Games, when Chinese compatriots win medals, words like “Sick Man of Asia” would definitely be wildly used by the Chinese domestic media, especially in 2008, when headlines like “From Sick Man of Asia to Olympic Sports Power” and “Beijing Olympic Games Forever Ends Discriminative Label ‘Sick Men of East Asia’” could be seen everywhere. However, it is actually a misunderstanding.
The phrase “Sick Man” has been used to describe a country experiencing a time of economic or political difficulty or impoverishment. The term was first used in 1853 to describe the Ottoman Empire. The Tsar...