How Port Arthur became a Russian stronghold
The question of the occupation of the ice-free port in the Far East has been a constant problem for Russia in the Far East since the second half of the 19th century. The final push that made Petersburg hurry with this question was the actions of Germany and England.
The British Empire already had several naval bases in the Far East - Singapore, Hong Kong and others, but planned to get a new base in North China. The attention of the British, Germans and Russians attracted the bay of Qingdao (Qiao-Chow). The Russian Foreign Ministry noted: “The strategic importance of Qingdao (Kiao-Chou), due to its geographical position, is enormous, it gives into the hands of the whole Shandong and opens free access to Beijing, abolishing all Pechili fortifications as a means to defend the approaches to the capital against owning the named bay. "
In 1896-1897 Berlin began to put pressure on Beijing, demanding the transfer of Qingdao to Germany. However, the Chinese resisted, citing that the Qing empire decided to create a military fortification on this site, which would protect against attacks from the sea and a naval base for a restored Chinese fleet. In addition, Qingdao, as a winter parking lot for the fleet, Russia claimed. Indeed, as far back as 1895, during negotiations with Japan, Vice Admiral Tyrtov 2nd, who was commanding the combined squadrons in the Pacific at that time, at a meeting with his closest associates, Vice Admiral S.O. Makarov and Rear Admiral E I. Alekseev pointed specifically to Qingdao as the most convenient winter parking for Russian ships. This fleet was necessary for the Russian fleet, since Vladivostok was frozen, the Korean ports were uncomfortable because the telegraph was in the hands of the Japanese. And parking in Japanese ports, which Russia used before, after Russia in 1895, together with other great powers, robbed Japan of a significant part of the “Chinese pie,” became impossible in the future.
However, the Germans did not wait until Beijing would give permission and decided to take the port on the right of the strong, since there was a reason for that. 4 November 1897 of the year Chinese farmers in the Shandong Peninsula killed two German Catholic missionaries. So Germany got a reason for aggression. The German press immediately presented the killing of two missionaries as a threat to the entire German nation. Upon receiving this message, Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered the fleet to seize the Shandong port of Qiao-Chou. Berlin made impressive claims of the Middle Kingdom. One of the points was the “lease” of the port of Qingdao (Qiao-Chou) for 99 years as the German naval base plus the strip of the adjacent territory with the Jingtang port, the right to build a railway, to exploit local natural resources, etc.
Wilhelm II sent a telegram to the Russian tsar in which he reported on the very fact of the attack of the Chinese on Catholic missionaries under his personal patronage. Kaiser wrote that he was obliged to punish these Chinese, and expressed confidence that Nicholas would have nothing against his decision to send the German squadron to Qingdao to act against the "Chinese robbers." Wilhelm II noted that Qingdao is the most suitable place for the German fleet, and that punishment is necessary and will make a good impression on all Christians.
Nicholas II, who promised the Chinese to preserve the integrity of their territory, could show firmness and prevent the Germans from gaining a foothold on the continent, and even near Russian bases, de facto in the Russian sphere of influence. Chinese dignitary Li Hongzhang, having learned of the Germans' determination to take Qingdao, rushed to the Russians and hoped to fulfill secret promises and help in expelling the Germans from Shandong. However, Nicholas did not firmly oppose the plans of Germany. The squadron, which had already sailed to the aid of the Chinese, was recalled and the king wrote Wilhelm in the softest manner, that he was “very surprised” by Germany’s plans in China, that he could not be either “against” or “against” sending a German squadron to Qingdao, since recently it turned out that the parking there remained behind the Russian ships only temporarily, namely for the winter of 1895-1896. At the same time, Nicholas II expressed fears that strict penalties would only cause unrest, make a heavy impression in the Far East and widen or deepen the abyss that already exists between Christians and Chinese. The Kaiser, in response, invited the Russian fleet to spend the winter in Qiao-Chou.
The German line won and Nikolai once again showed mildness. The policy of St. Petersburg not to let the Western powers in Central and Northern China received a crucial hole. On the morning of November 2. 1897. Three German ships, under the command of Rear Admiral Otto von Diderichs, entered Qingdao Bay, landed 200 landing troops and destroyed the telegraph line. Yielding to the threat of the German admiral, the commander of the Chinese garrison cleared the port and fortifications and retreated, leaving the Germans in their hands with guns, ammunition and all supplies. To help the German squadron of the Pacific, the newly formed 2-I cruising division, commanded by the brother of Emperor Prince Heinrich, was immediately dispatched from the four ships. The dispatch of these ships took place with great noise and a number of patriotic demonstrations.
Having lost hope for outside help, China entered into new negotiations with Germany and at the end of December 1897 entered into a special agreement with it, under which Germany received the right to use Qingdao Bay for rent for 99 years. The Germans acted very quickly: in a few years, Qingdao turned from a small fishing village into a 60-thousandth city with numerous industrial enterprises and a powerful fortress. The East Asian cruising squadron began to be based in Qingdao. Thus, the German Empire received a strategic stronghold in the Asia-Pacific region and began to lay claim to a piece of the "skin of the Chinese dragon." The German government took advantage of the Shandong incident and submitted to the Reichstag a project to strengthen the fleet. True, the Japanese will not forget the offense and in the 1914 year, taking advantage of the First World War, they will take away Qingdao from Germany.
Capture Port Arthur
It's clear that uhThis event caused a chain reaction. New seizures of Chinese territories were inevitable, and the first in line was one of the most tasty pieces of China, Port Arthur, which the British or Japanese could take. Now Russia had nothing to do, how to join the section of the Celestial and take the Port Arthur and the Far. Nicholas II told Witte: “You know, Sergey Yulievich, I decided to occupy Port Arthur and Dairen. Our ships with the troops have already been sent here. ” Witte, who insisted on a more cautious policy in China during this period, said to Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich: Your Highness, remember this day: this fatal step will have unfortunate results. ”
It is worth noting that the convenient harbor on the southern tip of the Liaodong Peninsula received its name from the British. This harbor was first used by the British during the Second Opium War. The nearest base of the British squadron operating in the Gulf of Pechiliya was Hong Kong, located hundreds of miles away. Therefore, the British created a temporary base on the Liaodong (Kwantung) peninsula. In August, 1860, in this harbor, repaired the ship of British Lieutenant William C. Arthur, after whom the port was named. According to another version, the harbor was named in honor of the legendary Celtic King Arthur.
After the end of the Second Opium War, the harbor of Port Arthur was empty, there was only a small Chinese fishing village. Only in the 1880-s, when the confrontation with France over Vietnam began, did the Chinese start building a naval base in the strategically important Lushun Bay. Here it was decided to build two strong sea fortresses on both sides of the strait leading to the Gulf of Pechili - Port Arthur (Chinese name Lüshun) and Weihai Vei (Weihei). The distance between these ports is about 160 km. The choice of location for both fortress ports was very successful. In fact, these fortresses became the second line of defense of Beijing, after the forts of the port of Dagu. Supervised the construction of fortifications Port Arthur German engineer Major Konstantin von Ganneken. For about ten years, over four thousand Chinese have built a fortress and a port. In 1892, the works were mostly completed.
Lüshun became one of the bases of the Beiyang fleet of the Qing Empire. For the improvement of the port, the Eastern basin was dug out with 530 x 320 m dimensions and depth at low tide 5 m, and at high tide more than 8 m, with granite facing. The width of the entrance to the pool was 80 m. Around the pool there are workshops and other port facilities, which made it possible to repair ships of any complexity. As a result, the main repair facilities of the Beiyang fleet were located in Lüshun: two docks went into the East Pool - the 400-foot (120 m) dock for the repair of battleships and cruisers, and a small dock for the repair of the destroyers. The dredging works carried out in the bay allowed the depth of the inner raid and the entrance to the bay to be increased to 20 feet (6,1 m).
21 November 1894, during the First Japanese-Chinese War, Lüshun fell due to the complete collapse of the defense system and desertion of the Chinese command, as well as a ban on the Beiyang fleet from the side to give a decisive battle to the Japanese fleet on Lüshun’s outer raid. The remnants of the garrison under the command of General Xu Bandao broke through and joined up with the main forces of the commander-in-chief of Chinese troops in Manchuria, General Song Qing. The Lüshun were occupied by the Japanese, who captured huge trophies in the fortress. At the same time, Japanese troops staged a merciless 4-day massacre in Lüshun on the pretext that the remains of captured Japanese soldiers were found in the city. About 20 thousand Chinese were cut, regardless of gender and age. Only a few dozen people were left alive to bury the dead. Thus, the Japanese atrocities of the Second World War had a longstanding history.
Port Arthur. View of the peninsula Tiger tail
Port Arthur. View of the internal raid
In the 1895 year, under the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Port Arthur passed to the Japanese Empire. However, under pressure from Russia, Germany and France, Japan was forced to return the Gulf to China. And in 1897, Russia had to decide whether to occupy Port Arthur, or whether others would take it. In addition, the Russian squadron in the Far East has long required a non-freezing port. The only naval base in the Pacific, Vladivostok, froze in winter. There were no good icebreakers, and it was necessary either to put the ships on a half-year, or to leave for the winter to visit the ports of Japan or China. Usually our ships wintered in Japan. But now Japan was becoming our enemy. The naval ministry considered several options for creating an ice-free naval base. Moreover, the sailors did not prefer Port Arthur, but the base in the south of the Korean Peninsula. The naval base in Korea gave control over the strategic Tsushima Strait, defended the Korean kingdom against the invasion of the Japanese, and Vladivostok was twice as close (almost 800 miles away).
Vice-Admiral Tyrtov, head of the Marine Ministry, noted: “From the far Port Arthur, preventing us from preparing Japan for the sudden occupation of Korea will be much more difficult than the British squadron from Besiksky Bay to capture the Bosphorus. In order to ... destroy such a capture plan in time and so that Japan does not decide on this enterprise in the sense of the risk of failure and imminent enormous losses, it is necessary to have a reference point in the south of Korea. This base ... is also needed as a link between Vladivostok and Port Arthur. A station in South Korea would also be a strong threat ... to the more numerous Japanese merchant fleet. The acquisition of such a port should constitute a goal towards which it is necessary to strive steadily ... To ensure our calm and development in the extreme East, we need not further acquisitions in China ... but the achievement of dominance at sea. But such a predominance is unattainable by one equation of our forces in the Pacific with the Japanese and even some of them from our side, while the distances of our bases from the object of action, i.e. Korea, will be as great as now compared to Japan, for which there will always be to serve as a great temptation to ... move an entire army to Korea before it is even known in Vladivostok or Port Arthur. Therefore, we need to strive to acquire ... a secure base in the south-eastern part of Korea, preferably Mozampo, in order to protect ourselves from any surprises from Japan. ”
Thus, the Russian sailors saw the vulnerability of Port Arthur from Japan and preferred the port on the Korean Peninsula, which will be easier to protect. In addition, the base in Korea connected Vladivostok and Port Arthur into a single system and made it possible to protect the Korean Peninsula from the Japanese landing and accordingly strengthened security and Port Arthur. However, it was alleged that the economic interests and actions of Witte and Co. decided the matter. Witte and the other schemers hoped that Port Arthur would allow trade expansion in China. Formally, for the tsar and for the Russian public, a completely fair argument was put forward - we will not capture, others will capture.
In November 1897, a note by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Count Muravyev was discussed at a meeting of the Russian government with a proposal to occupy Port Arthur or Dalianwan near by - taking advantage of the fact that the Germans had recently occupied the Chinese port of Qingdao as a convenient pretext. Muravyov said that he considered this "very timely, since it would be desirable for Russia to have a port in the Pacific Ocean in the Far East, and these ports ... in their strategic position are places that are of tremendous importance." General-Admiral Grand Prince Alexei Alexandrovich said: "We need to send a strong squadron to Arthur."
Witte was formally against. However, he already did everything so that Russia climbed into China with his head, now it was possible to go into the shadows, dumping the future blame on others. A few days after the meeting, Nikolai decided to take Port Arthur and Dalny so that the British would not occupy them.
Indeed, the capture of Qingdao by the Germans forced Britain to begin concentrating its Pacific squadron near the Chusansky Islands. British plans were obvious. Separate ships of the British squadron appeared in the Gulf of Pechili. From the end of November, alarming news began to arrive in St. Petersburg that the British squadron with its full complement was expected to enter Chefu, that it would then go to Port Arthur to outrun Russia. Ambassador Pavlov announced this to St. Petersburg 25 on November 1897. On November 27, the Russian Consul of the Pinnacles reported this to Chief Chefu. In addition, the German ambassador, Baron Geyking, hinted at such plans of England to the Russian representative in Beijing.
The commander of the Pacific squadron, Rear Admiral Fyodor Vasilyevich Dubasov, invited the Naval Ministry to take in response the South Korean port of Mozampo. According to Dubasov, the Russian naval base made it possible to resolve the issue of strategic strengthening of Russia on the shores of the Eastern Ocean and gave the Russians a stronghold that dominated the reports of Korea with Northern China and Japan. In addition, this item was associated with Seoul, the main road in Korea, just a distance of only 400 versts.
The commander of the Pacific squadron Fedor Vasilyevich Dubasov. Under his command in December 1897, the squadron entered Port Arthur, although Dubasov himself was opposed to the establishment of the Pacific Fleet base in this port, preferring to him Mozampo Bay
However, Petersburg decided to occupy Port Arthur. 29 November 1897. Rear Admiral Dubasov telegraphed an order immediately after receiving this telegram to send a detachment of three ships to Port Arthur. “The detachment must hurry,” it was stated in the dispatch, “and upon arrival remain in this port until the disposal, and the courts should be prepared for all sorts of accidents. Keep the order in the strictest confidence even from the commanders; only you and Reunov should know him. Officially designate sending the unit to some other port. Keep the rest of the squadron ships in full readiness; notify urgently of the receipt of the telegram and the departure of the detachment ".
On the night of December 1, squadron of Rear Admiral Reunov left Nagasaki. If the British were in Port Arthur, then Reunov would have to wait for instructions from St. Petersburg and confine himself to protest. But the English in Port Arthur was not there. When on December 4 a detachment of Reunov, detained on the way with fresh wind, appeared on the outer roadstead, there were only Chinese ships. The English gunboat Dafne came to Port Arthur only on December 6 and left after a while.
Rear Admiral Dubasov considered it necessary, along with Port Arthur, to take Talenenvan. He telegraphed to St. Petersburg: "Without the support of Talienvan, Port Arthur could be isolated, and their connection to the internal base could be interrupted." On December 3, at three o'clock in the morning, the order of Tsar Nicholas II was sent to Dubasov immediately to send one cruiser and two gunboats to the bay of Talienvan. "It is impossible to let the British manage in the north," the Grand Duke Alexey Alexandrovich telegraphed.
The 8 and 9 of December cruiser Dmitry Donskoy and gunboats Sivuch and Gremyashchy entered the harbor of Talienwan. British ships were not there. December 17 in Port Arthur came gunboat "Korean". Simultaneously, two British cruisers arrived at the outer raid and anchored, but they soon left. Thus, the Russian fleet occupied Port Arthur. It was the turn of diplomacy.
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