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PLA Daily: Learn the Lessons from First Sino-Japanese War in 1894

People’s Liberation Army Daily recently published a series of commentaries about the 1894 Sino-Japanese War that took place 120 years ago, giving an unusually objective evaluation of the Japanese military reform at the end of 19th century. That interaction prompted the continuous bloody conflicts between the two neighboring countries. The commentaries called for the People’s Liberation Army commanders to study the humiliating defeat of the Qing Empire at the hands of the Japanese. Analysts believe that the move is to warn of the effect of corruption within the military.

The commentaries said that the discipline and dedication of the Japanese army enabled them to defeat the Qing Dynasty’s Pei-yang Fleet.

One article stated: "(The) Chinese navy’s equipment, including the warships’ tonnage and the fire power, were indeed no less than those of the Japanese navy. … Quite a number of officers and even commanding officers of the fleet fostered ridiculous arrogance. Foreign military professionals who were paid and invited at a high price to instruct the navy were often subjected to ridicule and mockery. That was in stark contrast to the spirit of tireless learning of the Japanese Navy."

Analysts say these articles aimed to reveal the following facts: a lot of challenges that the Qing Dynasty’s army faced are the same as those the PLA battles today: nepotism, factional strife, and corruption.

A military expert at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law said, "If such phenomena continue, the PLA is bound to be defeated if a military conflict between China and Japan were to occur."

Tensions between China and Japan have deteriorated to the worst level since the end of the Cold War. Both sides repeatedly send planes and ships near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

One article on PLA Daily stated, "In a sense, the 1894 War has not ended."

One retired officer in Beijing said, "What our army is facing is clearly what the Qing government failed to deal with. This is exactly the reason why Chairman Xi Jinping urged the PLA senior officers to get rid of their stereotyped thinking."

The Pei-yang Fleet was a result of the Qing Dynasty "Self-Strengthening Movement." On the eve of the Sino-Japanese naval battle in 1894, the Pei-yang Fleet had about the same strength as the Japanese Navy in military hardware, but it was still defeated.

Source: Xinhua, March 24, 2014