청일전쟁; 재한화교; 동순태호; 조공체제; 민족주의; Sino-Japanese War(1894~95); Overseas Chinese in Korea; Tongshuntai firm; Tributary system; Nationalism
역사학보, 2014, 224, P.267-303
This paper analyses the business communications of the Tongshuntai firm to examine Cantonese merchants’ attitudes and responses to the Sino-Japanese War. Since the Tongshuntai achieved rapid commercial growth in Korea under the auspices of Qing empire’s political presence in Korea, Tan Jie-sheng, the executive manager of Tongshuntai, kept close eyes on the political evolution of events. While his overriding concern was with preserving property value and maximizing commercial profits, he identified private interest with national interest occasionally. Being as one of commercial diaspora, Cantonese merchants in East Asia, represented by Tan Jie-sheng and his trade partners, shared the position that the highest priority should be placed on preserving capital, though they, being as Chinese, wished Chinese victory as well. For the sake of their economic survival, they regarded western powers and their legal protection in the open ports as the last resort. As the war was evolving against China, the assaults on Chinese in Korea increased considerably. Ironically, while Cantonese merchants started to despise Japanese by calling them 'Japanese dwarfs' or 'Daikon head', the biggest contempt was directed to Koreans who set a fire on the Chinese shops and looted them. After the battlefield was shifted into Chinese territory, Tan Jie-sheng monopolized the profit of wartime boom in Korea, taking advantage of temporary setback of Shandong merchants. His confidence in economic success in Korea reinforced his cynical and critical attitude toward Qing dynasty and bureaucrats that were forced to negotiate humiliating peace treaty with the Japanese.