The Diaries of Sir Ernest Mason Satow, 1900-1906 (ES 2 vols.)

1st Edition

Ian Ruxton

Published May 25, 2016
Reference - 346 Pages
ISBN 9784902454963 - CAT# Y307996


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The scholar and diplomat Sir Ernest Satow was the best-known Westerner who lived in Meiji Japan. Although he rose to become British Minister to Japan and China, the most interesting part of his career was the start of it, when he witnessed, and in a small way influenced, the fall of the Bakufu and the Meiji Restoration. He wrote an account of this in a memoir called A Diplomat in Japan, published in 1921.

While Satow’s appointment as Minister to Tokyo in 1895 was understandable in terms of his background and skills, he was not the obvious choice for the Beijing (Peking) Embassy in 1900. He was also well aware that the China post would be more challenging, given Britain’s large commercial interests in the country, the large number of British residents and their dominance at the treaty ports.

Satow arrived in China in late September 1900. After a brief stop in Shanghai, he moved up to Peking and began work. He was at first unable to present his credentials as minister, because the allies considered themselves at war with the court. So from September 1900 until January 1902 he was technically not the British minister but rather the British High Commissioner for negotiations leading to the settlement of claims arising from the Boxer uprising.

Many issues of substance are to be found in these diaries: the negotiations for the Boxer Protocol of 1901, the status of the Peking Legation Quarter, the stationing of foreign troops in China for protection purposes, and the Chinese indemnity etc. Later Russo-Japanese tension over the Russian presence in Manchuria, and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, receive much attention. Other important issues included missionary matters, railways and railway concessions, the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs, and the British China Consular Service.

The editor has added extensive annotations and explanations to these diaries, making this book an indispensable reference work for students of China at the start of the 20th century. For this edition Satow’s separate diary for the cottage at Ku-miao-tsun has also been included and annotated.

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