Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Formosa: The Fleeting Prussian Possibility in the 19th century.

Shuimen town, Pingtung, morning.

From The Prussian Expedition in the Far East (1860-1862), Bernd Martin (link):
The French Baron Gros even encouraged the Prussian envoy to annex the island of Formosa as a Prussian colony. The French seemed very keen on having the Prussians as their allies in colonial adventures in Southeast Asia. While French troops were to invade the kingdom of Cambodia the Germans should occupy Formosa and thus hinder both the British and the Chinese from interfering with France's colonial acquisitions. The idea of Formosa as a German colony under Prussian administration remained a visionary goal until the Japanese took over the island in 1895.


Meanwhile, with the Prussian government's growing pride in the results of the expedition, the discussion was opened again for a permanent foothold, such as the Western powers had, in East Asia. A royal order from Berlin pointed at the Solomon Islands and Formosa (Taiwan) as the most suitable places for a German colony for the settlement of convicts and emigrants from Prussia. However, Count Eulenburg could not feel easy with the idea of Prussia becoming an equal colonial partner of the British or French. He warned his government that any colonial acquisition in East Asia might result in a diplomatic estrangement between Prussia and the Western powers· and would certainly endanger the recently concluded treaties with China and Japan. In order to stress his arguments Eulenburg reported that the island of Formosa was in no way suitable for any kind of western colonization due to its intolerably hot and humid climate. Notwithstanding the protest of Prince Adalbert, Admiral-in-Chief of the Prussian Navy, who strongly favoured a military invasion of Formosa, the mission was ordered home by the civilian government.
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Anonymous said...

Wow. Now that's something novel you don't hear very often.

Do you know of any other "close calls" like this one where Taiwan could have gone to a imperial power other than Japan?

Michael Turton said...

Yes, the attempt by US merchants to purchase the island.

"Ludigel" said...

Damned, I should have listened to Count Eulenburg :-)