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Striving for Equality

The Republic of China (ROC) took part in both World Wars, contributing to the allied war effort at a heavy cost. Through the hard work of our diplomats, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's last will and testament – to have the unequal treaties abrogated – was finally realised.

 

This section starts with the unequal Sino-Japanese Treaty of 1915, concerning Shantung Province, which led to the 'May Fourth Movement' immediately after World War I. Telegrams from the ROC Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, where Minister of Foreign Affairs Lou Tseng-Tsiang refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles, are also on display.

 

Due to the efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ROC first abrogated consular jurisdiction and regained tariff autonomy from foreign powers through the Sino-German Agreement, the first equal treaty, signed in 1921.

 

In 1922, the United States, Belgium, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and Portugal signed the Nine-Power Treaty with China, agreeing to respect ROC's sovereignty, independence, and territorial and administrative integrity. This laid the foundation for a series of other equal treaties, including the Agreement regarding the Rendition of the Belgian Concession in Tientsin of 1929, and the Sino-British Convention for the Rendition of Weihaiwei of 1930.

 

The United States and Great Britain both signed equal treaties with the ROC on January 11, 1943, prior to the end of World War II, to replace the old unequal ones. Nine countries – Belgium, Norway, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Denmark and Portugal – soon followed suit. The government proclaimed January 11 as 'Justice Day' to celebrate the fact that, almost overnight, it had shaken off the shackles it had been burdened with for 100 years.

 

This section displays 23 treaties and documents that highlight the arduous lengths the Ministry of Foreign Affairs went to in order to strive for equality for the Republic of China.


Documents on the International Recognition of the Republic of China(New window)

Documents on the International Recognition of the Republic of China
Date: 1913
28.3 × 21 cm

Treaty respecting the Province of Shantung between the Republic of China and Japan(New window)

Treaty respecting the Province of Shantung between the Republic of China and Japan
Treaty respecting Southern Manchuria and Eastern Inner Mongolia between the Republic of China and Japan
(commonly known as 'the Twenty-One Demands' )

Treaty signed: 1915/5/25
Location: Peking
40 × 29.8 cm


The treaties in which Japan demands all the original German rights in Shantung Province, and the Chinese government is forced to accept the expansion of Japanese influence into Southern Manchuria and Inner Mongolia.

Telegrams on Refusal to Sign the Treaty of Versailles(New window)

Telegrams on ROC's Refusal to Sign the Treaty of Versailles
Date: 1919
28.5 × 20.5 cm

 

The ROC Delegation to the Paris Conference reports on the unsuccessful effort to secure Chinese rights on Shantung Province and its decision on the refusal to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Austria(Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye)(New window)

Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Austria
(Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye)

Treaty signed: 1919/9/10
Location: Saint-Germain-en-Laye
44 × 32 cm

 

he peace treaty signed after World War I between Austria and the Allied Powers, including the Republic of China.

Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Hungary(Treaty of Trianon)(New window)

Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Hungary
(Treaty of Trianon)

Treaty signed: 1920/6/4
Location: Trianon Palace
44 × 32 cm

 

The peace treaty signed after World War I between Hungary and the Allied Powers, including the Republic of China.

Sino-German Agreement(New window)

Sino-German Agreement
Treaty signed: 1921/5/20
Location: Peking
40.7 × 30.1 cm

 

The first bilateral equal treaty since the establishment of the Republic of China.

Treaty between the United States of America, Belgium, the British Empire, China, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Portugal relating to Principles and Policies to Be Followed in Matters concerning China(The Nine-Power Treaty)(New window)

Treaty between the United States of America, Belgium, the British Empire, China, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Portugal relating to Principles and Policies to be Followed in Matters concerning China
(The Nine-Power Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1922/2/6
Location: Washington, D.C.
36.8 × 27.2 cm

 

A treaty giving international acknowledgment to respect the sovereignty, independence, and the territorial integrity of the Republic of China.

Treaty regulating Tariff Relations between the Republic of China and the United States of America (Sino-American New Tariff Treaty)(New window)

Treaty regulating Tariff Relations between the Republic of China and the United States of America
(Sino-American New Tariff Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1928/7/25
Location: Peiping
37.3 × 27.1 cm

 

The first treaty reinstating Chinese tariff autonomy after the unification of China by the Nationalist Government.

Agreement between China and Belgium regarding the Rendition of the Belgian Concession in Tientsin(New window)

AAgreement between China and Belgium regarding the Rendition of the Belgian Concession in Tientsin
Agreement signed: 1929/8/31
Location: Tientsin
40.8 × 28 cm

 

The first agreement on the retrocession of concession after the unification of China by the National Government.

Convention between China and Great Britain for the Rendition of Weihaiwei and Agreement regarding Certain Facilities for British Navy after rendition(New window)

Convention between China and Great Britain for the Rendition of Weihaiwei and Agreement regarding Certain Facilities for British Navy after Rendition
Agreement signed: 1930/4/8
Location: Nanking
Convention 36.2 × 25.9 cm
Agreement 36.2 × 25.9 cm

 

The first convention on the retrocession of Leased Territory after the unification of China by the National Government.

New Treaties of Equality

 

Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the Founding Father of the Republic of China (ROC), remained highly concerned about the unequal treaties that shackled the nation even on his deathbed. He urged his fellow countrymen in his last will and testament,'...the abrogation of unequal treaties should be carried into effect with the least possible delay. This is my solemn charge to you.'

 

Based on the ideals of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and the progress of the Northern Expedition, the National Government started in 1927 to seek the retrocession of foreign concessions and international settlements at treaty ports along the coast. It also strove to regain the autonomy of tariff-duty management, and to actively conclude new equal treaties with foreign powers. This endeavour was interrupted by the outbreak of the War of Resistance against Japan (a.k.a. the Sino-Japanese War of 1937).

 

With the eruption of the Pacific War at the end of 1941, the ROC played a heroic and colossal role in the fight against the Japanese and gradually rose to become one of the world's Big Four. This development also helped accelerate the National Government's negotiations with other nations for the annulment of various special privileges they enjoyed in China. On January 11, 1943, the government signed the Treaty for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters with the United States (a.k.a. the Sino-American New Equal Treaty), and with the United Kingdom (a.k.a. the Sino-British New Equal Treaty), respectively, in Washington, D.C., and Chungking. This marked the beginning of the end of the era of unequal treaties, and set a milestone in the efforts for their abrogation.

 

Belgium, Norway, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Denmark and Portugal soon followed suit by signing equal treaties with the Republic of China, relinquishing a wide range of special privileges, such as extraterritoriality, unilateral most-favoured-nation treatment and inland navigation rights. The Republic of China finally rid itself of the hundred years of shackles and fulfilled the last wish and testament of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

 

To celebrate the signing of the new equal treaties with the United States and the United Kingdom, the National Government proclaimed January 11 as'Justice Day', and February 5-7, 1943, as a three-day national holiday. Throughout the country people could be heard singing the'Song in Celebration of the New Equal Treaties'. The ROC government also issued a set of six stamps in commemoration of new equal treaties on July 7, 1945.



Treaty between the Republic of China and the United States of America for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters (Sino-American New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Treaty between the Republic of China and the United States of America for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters
(Sino-American New Equal Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1943/1/11
Location: Washington, D.C.
33.8 × 25.6 cm

Treaty between the Republic of China and the United Kingdom and India for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters (Sino-British New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Treaty between the Republic of China and the United Kingdom and India for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters
(Sino-British New Equal Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1943/1/11
Location: Chungking
35 × 25.6 cm

Treaty between the Republic of China and the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters (Sino-Belgian New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Treaty between the Republic of China and the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union for the Rel inquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters
(Sino-Belgian New Equal Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1943/10/20
Location: Chungking
35 × 25.2 cm

Treaty between the Republic of China and the Kingdom of Norway for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters (Sino-Norwegian New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Treaty between the Republic of China and the Kingdom of Norway for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters
(Sino-Norwegian New Equal Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1943/11/10
Location: Chungking
36.3 × 26.7 cm

Treaty between the Republic of China and Canada concerning the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights and the Regulation of Related Matter (Sino-Canadian New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Treaty between the Republic of China and Canada concerning the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights and the Regulation of Related Matters
(Sino-Canadian New Equal Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1944/4/14
Location: Ottawa
38.3 × 26 cm

Treaty between the Republic of China and the Kingdom of Sweden for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial and Relate Special Rights in China (Sino-Swedish New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Treaty between the Republic of China and the Kingdom of Sweden for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial and Related Special Rights in China
(Sino-Swedish New Equal Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1945/4/5
Location: Chungking
35.3 × 25.4 cm

Treaty between the Republic of China and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters (Sino-Dutch New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Treaty between the Republic of China and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters
(Sino-Dutch New Equal Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1945/5/29
Location: London
33 × 20.5 cm

Convention between the National Government of the Republic of China and the Provisional Government of the French Republic for the Return of the Leased Territory of Kwang-Chow-Wan(New window)

Convention between the National Government of the Republic of China and the Provisional Government of the French Republic for the Return of the Leased Territory of Kuang-Chou-Wan
Convention signed: 1945/8/18
Location: Chungking

Treaty between the National Government of the Republic of China and the Provisional Government of the French Republic for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters (Sino-French New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Treaty between the National Government of the Republic of China and the Provisional Government of the French Republic for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters
(Sino-French New Equal Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1946/2/28
Location: Chungking
36.3 × 26.3 cm

Exchange of Notes between the Republic of China and the Swiss Confederation for the Relinquishment of Consular Jurisdiction and Other Special Rights in China (Sino-Swiss New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Exchange of Notes between the Republic of China and the Swiss Confederation for the Relinquishment of Consular Jurisdiction and Other Special Rights in China
(Sino-Swiss New Equal Treaty)

Date of Exchange: 1946/3/13
Location: Berne
29.7 × 21 cm

Treaty between the Republic of China and the Kingdom of Denmark for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters (Sino-Danish New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Treaty between the Republic of China and the Kingdom of Denmark for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters
(Sino-Danish New Equal Treaty)

Treaty signed: 1946/5/20
Location: Nanking
36.3 × 26.1 cm

Exchange of Notes for the Relinquishment by Portugal of its Rights relating to the Consular Jurisdiction in China and the Adjustment of Certain Other Matters (Sino-Portuguese New Equal Treaty)(New window)

Exchange of Notes for the Relinquishment by Portugal of Its Rights relating to the Consular Jurisdiction in China and the Adjustment of Certain Other Matters
(Sino-Portuguese New Equal Treaty)

Date of Exchange: 1947/4/1
Location: Nanking
33.1 × 21.7 cm