Kiaochow and Weihaiwei


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Kiaochow and Weihaiwei is Number 71 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Kiaochow (present-day Jiaoxian) is a port city in northeastern China that was seized by Germany in 1897 and leased to Germany under a treaty imposed on the Chinese government in 1898. Weihaiwei (present-day Weihai) is also a territory and city in northeastern China. It was leased to Great Britain under a convention of July 1, 1898. Britain pressured the government of China to conclude the lease as a way of countering the Russian presence in Port Arthur (present-day Lüshun) and the Liaodong Peninsula, which Russia had acquired by lease earlier that year. The book is in two parts, one devoted to Kiaochow and the other to Weihaiwei, each of which has sections on physical and political geography, political history, and economic conditions. The study recounts that in August 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Japan, which had entered the war on the side of Britain and France, seized Kiaochow from the Germans. The economic sections of the study note the importance of both Kiaochow and Weihaiwei as ports. Kiaochow was linked to the Chinese interior by the Shantung Railroad, built with German capital after 1898. Weihaiwei had no railroads. The study records the curious fact that the official unit of currency in Weihaiwei was the Mexican dollar.

Last updated: February 18, 2015