Empire in Asia

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The Tientsin Convention, 1885

The Convention was an attempt to reduce tension in Korea after the Gapsin Coup occurred, pitting the pro-Chinese conservative party against the pro-Japanese Korean progressive clique, in 1884. Given that China and Japan maintained considerable influence over Korea, this stirred serious political and military tension. The main content of the Convention was to ensure the withdrawal of both Chinese and Japanese troops from the Korean domain within four months, and also assure that the two countries would not dispatch military advisers to assist the Korean national army’s modernization. In addition, it was agreed that each country would previously notify the other if it sent troops back into Korea. The document indicates the real beginning of deteriorating relations and strategic competition between Qing China and Meiji Japan, as the latter steadily increased in power and ambition.

Convention of Tientsin — April 18, 1885

CHINESE TEXT

大清國特派全權大臣太子太傅文華殿大學士北洋通商大臣兵部尚書直隸總督一等肅毅伯爵李;

大日本國特派全權大使參議兼宮內卿勳一等伯爵伊藤;

各遵所奉諭旨,公同會議,訂立專條,以敦和誼。所有約款臚列於左:

一、議定中國撤駐紮朝鮮之兵,日本國撤在朝鮮護衛使館之兵弁,自畫押蓋印之日起,以四個月為期,限內各行盡數撤回,以免兩國有滋端之虞。中國兵由馬山浦撤去、日本國兵由仁川港撤去。

一、兩國均允勸朝鮮國王教練兵士,足以自護治安。又由朝鮮國王選僱他外國武弁一人或數人,委以教演之事。嗣後中日兩國均無派員在朝鮮教練。

一、將來朝鮮國若有變亂重大事件,中、日兩國或一國要派兵,應先互行文執照,及其事定,仍即撤回,不再留防。

大清光緒十一年三月初四日

大日本國明治十八年四月十八日

JAPANESE TEXT

大日本国特派全権大使参議兼宮内卿勲一等伯爵伊藤
大清国特派全権大臣太子太伝文華殿大学士北洋通商大臣 兵部尚書直隷総督一等粛毅伯爵李

各々奉ずる所の諭旨に遵び公同会議し専条を訂立し以て和誼を敦くす有る所の約款左に臚列す。

一.議定す。
中国、朝鮮に駐紮するの兵を撤し、日本国、朝鮮に在りて使館を護衛するの兵弁を撤す。
画押蓋印の日より起り4箇月を以て期とし、 限内に各々数を尽して撤回するを行い、以て両国滋端の虞あることを免る。
中国の兵は馬山浦より撤去し、日本国の兵は仁川港より撤去す。

一.両国均しく允す。
朝鮮国王に勧め兵士を教練し、以て自ら治安を護するに足らしむ。
又朝鮮国王に由り他の外国の武弁1人或いは数人を選傭し、委ぬるに教演の事を以てす。
嗣後日中両国均しく員を派し、朝鮮に在りて教練する事勿らん。

一.将来、朝鮮国若し変乱重大の事件ありて、日中両国或いは一国兵を派するを要するときは、応に先ず互いに行文知照すべし。
其の事定まるに及んでは、仍即ち撤回し再び留防せず。

大日本国明治18年4月18日
大日本国特派全権大使参議兼宮内卿勲一等伯爵伊藤

大清国光緒11年3月初4日
大清国特派全権大臣太子太伝文華殿大学士北洋通商大臣 兵部尚書直隷総督一等粛毅伯爵李

TRANSLATION

        Ito, Ambassador Extraordinary of the Great Empire of Japan, Minister of State and of the Imperial Household, First Class of the Order of the Rising Sun, and Count of the Empire;

        Li, Special Plenipotentiary of the Great Empire of China, Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent, Senior Grand Secretary of State, Superintendent of the North Sea Trade, President of the Board of War, Viceroy of Chihli, and Count Shinu-ki [Su-i] of the First Rank;

        In obedience to the decrees which each of them respectively is bound to obey, after conference held, have agreed upon a Convention with a view to preserving and promoting friendly relations (between the two Great Empires), the articles of which are set down in order as follows: —

        It is hereby agreed that China shall withdraw her troops now stationed in Corea, and that Japan shall withdraw hers stationed therein for the protection of her Legation.  The specific term for effecting the same shall be four months, commencing from the date of the signing and sealing of this Convention, within which terms they shall respectively accomplish the withdrawal of the whole number of each of their troops, in order to avoid effectively any complications between the respective countries: the Chinese troops shall embark from Masan-po, and the Japanese from the port of Ninsen.

        The said respective Powers mutually agree to invite the King of Corea to instruct and drill a sufficient armed force, that she may herself assure her public security, and to invite him to engage into his service an officer or officers from amongst those of a third Power, who shall be entrusted with the instruction of the said force.  The respective Powers also bind themselves, each to the other, henceforth not to send any of their own officers to Corea for the purpose of giving said instruction.

        In case [of] any disturbances of a grave nature occurring in Corea which necessitates the respective countries, or either of them, to send troops to Corea, it is hereby understood that they shall give, each to the other, previous notice in writing of their intention so to do, and that after the matter is settled they shall withdraw their troops and not further station them there.

        Signed and sealed this 18th day of the 4th month of the 18th year of Meiji (Japanese calendar).

        The 4th day of the 3rd moon of the 11th year of Kocho [Kuang Hsü] (Chinese calendar).

                    (Signed and sealed)                        ITO,

                                                                        Ambassador Extraordinary of the Great Empire of Japan, etc., etc., etc.

                     (Signed and sealed)                        LI,

                                                                        Special Plenipotentiary of the Great Empire of China, etc., etc., etc. 


United States Department of State. Index to the executive documents of the House of Representatives for the first session of the forty-ninth Congress, 1885-1886. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1885-1886. pp. 563-564

A complete and original version of the Tientsin Convention, written in Chinese and Japanese, is available here.

Annotated by Miriam Kaminishi