Which country was more powerful militarily in 1910: China or Germany?

More powerful military power overall in 1910?

  • Qing Empire

    Votes: 2 3.6%
  • German Empire

    Votes: 54 96.4%

  • Total voters
    56

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,953
Spain
China, even during the time when Japan launched a full scale invasion of China (during 1937 - 1945), was still weak, was not industrialized, it's weaponry still heavily outdated and impoverished by years of civil war and government corruption. The alliance took Beijing during a time when there was rebellions and utter chaos in China due to Qing corruption and not being able to deal with foreign interventions. It even took an alliance to take a single city, yet could not take the entire country. Amazing how a single force such as Japan managed to take a large sliver of China, yet an alliance could only take one tiny part of China.

And again, why are you bringing up places such as Germany and Russia and compare it to the failure of Qing China not being able to fight back against Western Imperialists and Japan? China is not Germany or Russia and vice versa, and trying to even make a comparison is entirely bollocks. There are different scenarios as to why one empire got conquered and why the other didn't.
Simply because the post.. the thread is about to compare German Empire (1871 - 1918) and Chinese Empire... as we are comparing.... China and Germany... I can to extend comparation to Russia or France or other countries....

Chinese armies were weaks... in 1840 (we can´t compare with Afghans in the same year because one member of the forum said Afghans were supported by their mountains and rough terrain).. and yes.. I compare how fought Afghan in 1839 - 1842 and how fought Chinese in the same period...

In 1860.... British and French took Peking... (about 12.000 kms) in few days march.... and the same British and French needed one year to take Sevastopol (supported by Ottomans and Piamontese).. and Sevastopol is only 3.000 kms.... and Sevastopol is closer to Sea than Peking... But not a Malakoff´s Hill in Peking in 1860...

And in 1900... eight power alliance took Peking... the same year.. yes the same year... the "Dutch" republics of Orange and Transvaal defeated British Armies and never was done by Chinese Armies during Imperial Days....

Because China is a great power in 2020 (or in 1950)... didn´t mean it was a great power in 1900 or in 1800.. it was a very weak Empire...
 
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mariusj

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,057
Los Angeles
Tulius is right.. Saint Petersburg was the Capital... and nor Germans in 1914... nor French in 1812.... nor Germans in 1941 (when capital was Moscow) nor Anglo-French in 1854.... took Sain Petersburg.... in fact.... Anglo-French (Baltic Squadron) never planned to take Saint Petersburg....

I don´t know why you don´t want to recognize the FACT... Russian Empire was stronger than Chinese Empire in 19th and 20th Centuries!!!
I don't know why you won't recognize the fact that China at her weakest during the 19th and 20th centuries did not lose all of her territories whereas Germany lost all of her territory at WWII.

By your foolproof logic why can't you recognize the fact that China was stronger than Germany?
 

mariusj

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,057
Los Angeles
I do think the Russians could have taken large parts of Xinjiang and Outer and Inner Mongolia if they conducted a full scale invasion of China in the warlord era (or the Qing period had the invasion took place in 1900). The Hui Muslim armies were tough, but they lacked the equipment and the numbers. I believe the Russians could take most of Hebei and perhaps parts of Shangdong and Shanxi before being stopped in 1900; after that they will face guerilla resistance and be forced out of Hebei. They might take the western and northern parts of Xinjiang and most of Outer Mongolia as well as the Eastern part of Inner Mongolia. How they might hold it is another story, if we consider international pressure and World War 1 taking place not long afterwards.
If the Russians invaded in 1910s though, they will have a much tougher time as the Chinese armies at the time were much better equipped and trained than they were in 1900 or the 1930s.
The best chance was the 1920s, but given the problems of the USSR at the time, its also unlikely it will attempt an invasion and not face foreign pressure (especially of Japan).
I had a joking conversation with my uncle and his friends when I was a child and they were some old school Chinese military people and I jokingly asked the same question what happens if Russia invaded China (if memory was correct we were talking about the Sino-Soviet split) thy mentioned something very similar, China won't be able to hold on to 东三省 but then there will be resistance to hold them off.

I never think too much about it but I am curious why do you think the resistance would be able to hold them north of the Yellow River and not been pushed out all the way south?
 

mariusj

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,057
Los Angeles
The way I see it, seeing as how Russians had trouble occupying Afghanistan, I honestly don't see how Russians can take any part of Western China. There was also even an event when the Soviets invaded Xinjiang a year before the Japanese invasion of China, where the Russians had a difficult time fighting Chinese forces and ended in a ceasefire.
Northern China is like a plain, unhospitable sure, but I don't know if you can do much resistance and compare them to the rugged terrain of Afghanistan. So why would anyone spend time in the west if you can just ride south?
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,558
I had a joking conversation with my uncle and his friends when I was a child and they were some old school Chinese military people and I jokingly asked the same question what happens if Russia invaded China (if memory was correct we were talking about the Sino-Soviet split) thy mentioned something very similar, China won't be able to hold on to 东三省 but then there will be resistance to hold them off.

I never think too much about it but I am curious why do you think the resistance would be able to hold them north of the Yellow River and not been pushed out all the way south?
As I said before, China Proper is far more populous than Manchuria in 1900. It's not until post PRC that the three northeastern provinces became densely populated. It wasn't until the 1860s that the Manchu court formally allowed Chinese migration to the region. In 1900, the population of the entire region was only 14 million, only around 1/31 of the population of China Proper yet having over a quarter its size. The militia numbers in Manchuria were limited while they will be much more numerous in the interior provinces. Furthermore, the best military units, shipyards, and factories were all in southern China or Shangdong at the time. Economically, Manchuria was far less important to China than the interior provinces until the Japanese takeover in 1931. Ironically, it was under Japanese rule that industrialization began, making Manchuria the most industrialized part of China, and by 1940, Manchuria was producing more steel than the rest of China. One of the main reasons that the CCP defeated the Nationalists was also because they were able to take Manchuria first and take the Japanese facilities there.
I also believe the Soviet invasion of Manchuria was one of the main reasons why Japan surrendered that quickly. Outside of Japan, Manchuria was the most industrialized and productive region, and its conquest deprived the Japanese of industries and manpower for war (as well as a potential territory to withdraw to if mainland Japan is occupied).
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,558
In sum, I would like to say that the reason for Qing defeat in 1894 is NOT primarily because of the lack of industrialization, but because of the internal weakness of the Chinese state since the 19th century (but going back perhaps hundreds of years earlier), and bad policies. In 1894, while the Qing produced less industrial products on a per capita basis compared to Japan, its total volume, including steel production, was still somewhat greater. Qing revenue was over 87 million taels of silver, whereas Japan's annual revenue was 83 million yen, or roughly the equivalent of around 70 million tales of silver, somewhat less than that of the Qing. However, Japan's military spending reached 15% of its total GDP in 1894, while the budget going to the navy alone made up over 5%, whereas the Qing only spent 1.6% on its modern navy and much of its budget on the outdated old bannerman and green standards (the Qing replaced their equipment with modern guns, but these soldiers had little combat experience, still took high salaries while retained their organization and not western style training).

The most important strength of Japan was the extension of its bureaucracy to the rural area and the standarization of its military, imposing universal conscription on the population since the 1870s. The Chinese state could not accomplish this, especially after the Taiping rebellion. The amount of bureaucratic offices in the Qing dynasty did not change while the population grew to over 430 million. Overpopulation was a serious issue and the bureaucrats had no control over them, relying on local gentry elite families to do the job. After the Taiping, the Qing government had to give more power to provincial governors to manage their private armies in case another rebellion break out.
The military system at the end of the Qing is hence unstandardized and decentralized. Governors would not support each other when war broke out to preserve their military force. The North Ocean (Beiyang) fleet did not aid the South Ocean (Nanyang) fleet when it was attacked by the French in 1884, and the South fleet did not come to the aid of the North Ocean fleet during the Sino-Japanese war as a retribution.

This is not just the result of industrialization (albeit telegrams and railroads did help), but the lack of self awareness of the traditional Chinese bureaucracy of the problem of overpopulation, without expanding the number of government posts to deal with it (of course such reforms would be difficult due to decentralization), nor did attempt at extending the bureaucracy to the villages occur until the very end of the Qing (which was problematic as the government would need to replace or reduce the power of all the elites which helped it during the Taiping). Qing revenue did not seriously increase for two hundred years even though the population nearly increased by 3 times (its not until the New Policies of the 1900s that the Qing was able to multiply its revenue). This again has little to do with industrialization, because regimes such as the Qin and Han WERE able to extend the bureaucracy down to the village (xiang) level and adopt universal conscription without any modern industry.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
23,620
SoCal
I don't know why you won't recognize the fact that China at her weakest during the 19th and 20th centuries did not lose all of her territories whereas Germany lost all of her territory at WWII.

By your foolproof logic why can't you recognize the fact that China was stronger than Germany?
China did lose territory in the 19th and 20th centuries--specifically Tuva, Mongolia, and Outer Manchuria.
 
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Dec 2015
370
NYC
Simply because the post.. the thread is about to compare German Empire (1871 - 1918) and Chinese Empire... as we are comparing.... China and Germany... I can to extend comparation to Russia or France or other countries....

Chinese armies were weaks... in 1840 (we can´t compare with Afghans in the same year because one member of the forum said Afghans were supported by their mountains and rough terrain).. and yes.. I compare how fought Afghan in 1839 - 1842 and how fought Chinese in the same period...

In 1860.... British and French took Peking... (about 12.000 kms) in few days march.... and the same British and French needed one year to take Sevastopol (supported by Ottomans and Piamontese).. and Sevastopol is only 3.000 kms.... and Sevastopol is closer to Sea than Peking... But not a Malakoff´s Hill in Peking in 1860...

And in 1900... eight power alliance took Peking... the same year.. yes the same year... the "Dutch" republics of Orange and Transvaal defeated British Armies and never was done by Chinese Armies during Imperial Days....

Because China is a great power in 2020 (or in 1950)... didn´t mean it was a great power in 1900 or in 1800.. it was a very weak Empire...
You can't compare China with Afghanistan. Different civilizations with different politics at that time. China also has mountains, which, during the Sino-Japanese war took advantage of, as shown as how Japanese couldn't advance beyond Fujian, Shanxi, or into Sichuan (three mountainous provinces), or as shown as how the British couldn't advance further north into Tibet. Sevastopol is right along the coastline, so it's understandable how British and French managed to take it. British and French took Beijing during a time when rebellions and chaos were widespread and because not enough Qing troops were deployed to Beijing. You seriously can't compare both, once again, you're using two totally different scenarios. Chinese armies were only weak compared to Europeans at that time due to bad politics (Afghans, Bhutanese, and Nepalese all managed to fight back British invaders and they were more or less advanced than the Chinese), but Europeans still can't beat the sheer sheer manpower of the Chinese.
 
Dec 2015
370
NYC
Northern China is like a plain, unhospitable sure, but I don't know if you can do much resistance and compare them to the rugged terrain of Afghanistan. So why would anyone spend time in the west if you can just ride south?
China also has mountains of it's own. During the Sino-Japanese war, the Japanese were stalemated and could not advance west of Shanxi, nor did they occupy the interior of Southern China (all of which are mountainous). Western China is also surrounded by mountains at the borders (Tien Shan and Pamirs), not to mention deserts, plus the high plateau of Tibet.
 

mariusj

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,057
Los Angeles
China did lose territory in the 19th and 20th centuries--specifically Tuva, Mongolia, and Outer Manchuria.
Yah, but that's not my argument.

I wasn't saying China didn't lose territory. I was arguing that basis as an argument is a stupid argument, and I further drive the point by pointing out if that was the sole indicator then Germany in WWII was weaker than China because Germany lost all her territory.

So pointing out China losing territory is meaningless because is anyone arguing against that?

However arguing about the strength of the Chinese state because of losing territory, now that argument is not meaningless, it is stupid.