The Ryukyu Negotiation and Political Controversies in the Qing Government during the 5th and 6th Year of Guangxu’s Reign
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Abstract: There were fierce political controversies in the Manchu court, during the 5th and 6th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign, which affected the Ryukyu negotiation between China and Japan.The Premiers Office and Li Hongzhang jointly controlled the discourse power of diplomacy with Japan, and formed the bottom line of Qing government’s diplomacy. However, this “alliance” disintegrated in the political games caused by the border defense crises: Qingliu (“清流”) launched a fight around the case of “Chonghou’s negotiation with Russia”, which resulted in the tearing of the original central decision-making system. In order to better deal with the relations with Russia, Empress Dowager Ci Xi and Ci An introduced Prince Dun, Prince Chun, Pan Zuyin and Weng Tonghe into the decision-making group, and used “South Study” (“南书房”) as a temporary office. They also ordered four persons to participate in the discussion of the Ryukyu division treaty draft, which challenged the decision-making power of Prince Gong and Shen Guifen. At the same time, Li Hongzhang and Shen Guifen went further and further away, changing his attitude from supporting the Ryukyu division treaty draft to opposing it and gaining supports from local governors of the Huai system. In the end, the Ryukyu division treaty was abolished.