Demystified: Why did Li Hongzhang avoid war and seek peace before the Sino-Japanese War?
Fun history2017-05-09 14:52:25 Guangxu Cixi Zeng Guofan Li Hongzhang Yuan Shikai

At the time of the war and during the war, Li Hongzhang and Emperor Guangxu were two closely related and comparable figures. Li Hongzhang is an important faction in Qing who participates in decision-making and controls the army to a large extent; while Emperor Guangxu was in the "pro-government" period and had some "real power", he also tried to command war and control the overall situation. As. On the eve of the official start of the war, in the face of the aggressive and seemingly unavoidable situation of the Japanese side, the Emperor Guangxu's main battle attitude was relatively resolute. He repeatedly urged Li Hongzhang, commander of the Huai Army and Beiyang Army to actively plan and respond fighting. On July 16th, Li Hongzhang sent a telegram through the military aircraft office:

Now that the situation between Han and Han is about to break, as the inevitable situation, the court is determined to fight. Li Hongzhang reposted, familiar with military affairs, and must not be intimidated. In accordance with the previous intentions, I will arrange all the matters to enter the army quickly. If the apprehension is delayed, the lingering things will be delayed, and the accident will be tampered with, the Minister must be asking!


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From this imperative tone, Emperor Guangxu's scrutiny of Li Hongzhang's blame and his dissatisfaction with his inadequate combat readiness and "delayed execution" can be tasted. Indeed, Li Hongzhang really did not want to fight. It should be said that under the conditions possible before the war, as far as the Qing Dynasty is concerned, it is necessary to strive to resolve contradictions and avoid war. For this reason, Li Hongzhang advocates that both China and Japan withdraw troops from Japan at the same time, which is naturally reasonable. If this point can be implemented, it will be a desirable measure. But Japan did not agree. Later, Li Hongzhang also tended to withdraw unilaterally from North Korea in the Qing Dynasty, but the Emperor Guangxu explicitly denied that in his decree to Li Hongzhang, "Peterton will not move. I will retreat first. I will show weakness, and will enter the country in the future. It's not counted. "② Since Emperor Guangxu had this directive, the unilateral withdrawal of troops in the Qing Dynasty could not be implemented. The question is whether it is advisable to implement unilateral withdrawal of troops from the Qing Dynasty. Some senior researchers are affirmative, saying: "If China fails to withdraw its troops, the unilateral withdrawal of troops at the request of the North Korean government (at the time, North Korea had such a request-an inducer) would not be Practical measures. Because Japan was already at a disadvantaged position in diplomacy at that time, if the Chinese army withdrew from the DPRK, it would not only be more diplomatic in isolation, but the conspiracy to drag the Qing army will inevitably go bankrupt ... So, At this stage, Li Hongzhang's idea of saving the peace is not necessarily wrong, and it is understandable. "Of course, he also pointed out the flaws in his understanding:" The problem is that he failed to perceive the treacherous scheme and adopted the corresponding strategy early. Really In this case, although Japan still plays with various tricks, it is difficult to rush to provoke provocations. "① It should be said that this makes sense.

Emperor Guangxu's attitude seemed to be more resolute and upright than Li Hongzhang in defending Japan. In addition, the Japanese side deliberately took the opportunity to intensify contradictions and create provocations, and axioms and justice were definitely on the Chinese side. Even some foreigners do not deny this, but they think that it is not enough to rely on this alone. As the Englishman Hurd pointed out:

Japan does not have justice at all, unless it is excuses to fight against others and pick up the bargains themselves can also be regarded as justice. Justice is entirely in China. I don't believe that justice alone can make things happen. Just as I ca n’t eat with a single chopstick, we must have a second chopstick—power. However, the Chinese thought that they had full justice and wanted to use it to subdue the Japanese Tekken. This idea was too naive. ②

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In fact, Li Hongzhang is not just the "old Taoist", even the young Emperor Guangxu was by no means so naive. Nor does he have to be desperate and do not know the depth of the fight, and do not give up the "harmonious" peace efforts. Look at his decree to Li Hongzhang: "The Tatars rushed to North Korea with heavy soldiers and arbitrarily restrained them; now they are willing to discuss with China and use the term of co-protection of North Korea. It seems that there are still concerns. If it does not hinder the system of China and North Korea, it will not hurt The power of North Korea may wish to measure the accommodation and take the overall situation into consideration. However, it is difficult to predict whether the situation is successful or not. If there is a resolution of the matter, then it is beyond the scope of the battle, and it is necessary to prepare in advance. With Li Hongzhang For the sake of planning, how the water and land forces are divided, how the grain and arsenal are transferred, how the coastal points are defended, everything is well planned, and after the plan is made, you can go to the plane quickly. "① See, this is not in the development of the situation Under unforeseen circumstances, is it necessary to plan for war and two-handed preparation? On the contrary, Li Hongzhang's preparation for "war" is obviously weak. The Emperor Guangxu could not ignore the strength of his country, especially the army and armaments. In early July before the outbreak of the war, he eagerly asked the details of the maritime army under the command of Li Hongzhang: "What are the number of newly trained soldiers in the navy? In addition, the number of Beiyang divided coastal defense forces? ? "Li Hongzhang reported in the repertoire:

Beiyang currently has two Zhenyuan and Dingyuan iron armored ships, five of which are Jiyuan, Zhiyuan, Jingyuan, Qingyuan, and Laiyuan Express ships, all of which were purchased from Waiyang; one Pingyuan Express ship was built in Fujian. The prelude cloud battleship refers to these eight ships. In addition, the two super-yong and Yang-wei ships are of the old style; the four-town mosquito gun ship is only Moriguchi; the Weiyuan, Kangji, and agile three ships are specially equipped for coaching students; the one ship of Liyun is specially equipped for transfer of grain machinery. As the battleships are staffed, the wheels and guns have their own divisions. I have studied the rules of the Western Navy, but I ’ve divided the strength of the new and old ships and the size of the artillery into consideration. Fourteen years after Guangxu, no additional ships were purchased; although the exercise was active, there were too few warships.


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In the coastal army, except for the Jiaozhou Taiwanese workers, the Weihai Weize in Shandong, the eighth battalion of the Suigong Army and the two battalions of the guard, the tenth battalion of the Mingtian army in Fengtian Dalian Bay, and the eighth battalion of Song Qingyi in Sichuan Tizhen, Lushun Sixth Army Battalion, Yantai Shandong, Songwu Fourth Battalion, Zhili Two Battalions of Renzi, Dagukou Artillery Team: 670: Chen Qianzhe, the so-called distribution team, has a total of 20,000 guards in Haikou in the three provinces of Zhidongfeng. Refers to this. It is divided into sixteen battalions of Shengjun Ma Bu in Qing County, Tianjin, and two battalions of Ming Army Troops in Junliang City, both of which are pave the way for the auxiliary guerrilla division. As for the Green Camp soldiers, they have been weak for a long time. Since the establishment of military training by former governor Zeng Guofan and ministers, they have gradually become practical. It is better than Zhili, with vast grounds, bordering the east, Feng, Jin, and Henan, and the northern borders of Duolun and the paddocks. Both are areas where thieves are infested. They must be patrolled for years, have multiple strengths, and have difficulty adjusting for long-term service. {1}

This is a detailed "menu" that Li Hongzhang listed to the emperor in the Beiyang area under his jurisdiction. We originally copied it here, and it showed a rough figure for the Beiyang troops that were mainly invested by the Qing Dynasty in the Sino-Japanese War . Moreover, Li Hongzhang's performance can also be observed. He stated that the force of the North Sea was too stretched. This is also an important source of his tendency to avoid war and peace from the beginning.

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