Convention of Tientsin

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The Tientsin Convention (天津条約 Tenshin Jōyaku?), also known as the Tianjin Convention,[1] was an agreement signed between the Meiji period Empire of Japan and Qing Dynasty Empire of China in Tientsin, China on 18 April 1885. It was also called the "Li-Itō Convention".

Following the Kapsin Coup in Korea in 1884, tensions had been escalating between China and Japan over external influence over the Korean peninsula and royal family. During this coup, the Japanese supported a coup attempt aimed at reforming and modernizing Korea. The coup plotters sought to eliminate legal enforced social distinctions, eliminating the privileges of the yangban class. The coup failed when China dispatched 1500 soldiers under Yuan Shikai. The Japanese and the coup plotters fled to Japan.

The driving out of the Japanese soldiers by Chinese troops greatly increased tension between the two powers. Following extensive negotiations, Itō Hirobumi of Japan and Li Hongzhang of China attempted to defuse tensions by signing an agreement whereby:

  1. Both nations would pull their expeditionary forces out of Korea within four months.
  2. King Gojong of Korea would be advised to hire military instructors from a third nation for the training of the Korean army.
  3. Neither nation would send troops to Korea without prior notification to the other.

The Convention effectively eliminated China's claim to exclusive influence over Korea, and made Korea a co-protectorate of both Japan and Qing.[2] Despite negotiations, the Convention was no deterrent to either party, and the next serious confrontation over Korea quickly escalated into the First Sino-Japanese War. The immediate result was a rise in Chinese influence over Korea, which appointed Yuan Shikai as a Resident, a director of Korean affairs (1885-1894).


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  1. James McClain, "Japan a Modern History," p.296
  2. Hsu, the Rise of Modern China, pp.331