From the way things went, it seems to me that Japan played Chinese nationalists into breaking up the Qing empire, in order to expand Japanese power in the region. Were any Chinese revolutionaries suspicious about this happening at the time, or did they more or less get played for fools*?

Despite reading about the Dark Ocean Society and the Black Dragon Society (and links from the pages for these networks/organisations), as well as the Wikipedia pages for the Chinese figures involved, I haven't seen this angle specifically discussed. I also don't really know where to start other than emailing academics.

*Or was it all part of the revolutionaries' plan?

  • 2
    Can you provide more details of your research so far? Feb 1, 2020 at 14:27
  • The title is very difficult to parse - very complex. I don't see any way to make it simpler, but if you can, I predict that it will improve the chances of getting answers.
    – MCW
    Feb 1, 2020 at 14:28
  • 5
    It would help non-experts if you stuck in a date or two here and there in your question. Feb 1, 2020 at 14:56
  • @MarkC.Wallace No worries mate.
    – Step Start
    Feb 2, 2020 at 0:05

2 Answers 2


Before about 1931, there was little for the Chinese to "get suspicious" about. As late as World War I or shortly after, Japan even let openly anti-Japanese students study military science in their academies. No one was being played for fools. Everyone was seeking their self interests; the Chinese wanted a better education, and Japan wanted better relations with Chinese people against what was then perceived as the "European" threat. It was only in the 1930s that Japanese and Chinese interests irreversibly diverged. By then, all the major parties had played their hands.

A later version of your question might read, "it seems to me that Japan played Chinese Communists into breaking up the the Kuomintang, in order to expand Japanese power in the region. Were any Chinese Communists suspicious about this happening at the time, or did they more or less get played for fools?"

The Chinese Communists were no fools. They ultimately won what had been a three way fight, with the Nationalists basically being the "odd man out."


According to Jung Chang's biography of Empress Cixi, there was no specific involvement of Japanese politics in Chinese revolutionnary movements. However, they did involve in some well established families, as well as in contesting movements, in order to play "double game": If you support the monarchy and its opponents, you are sure to keep contacts in the winning side at the end.

I can give you three examples from Jung Chang:

  • Prince Su, well established man in Chinese aristocracies whose family continued to intrigate for Japan
  • "Kang the Fox": Was executed under Cixi for his opposition to the monarchy, including pamphlets and physical attacks against authorities. Was linked to Japanese diplomacy of the time.
  • The Boxers: Japanese opposed, alongside Occidental countries and Russia, to the Boxers and their partial support by Cixi

So you would not say, for the period 1894-1911, that Japan involved specifically in favour or against revolutionnaries, but it did intrigate to know about Chinese governemental decisions and to destabilize it.


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