Grounds of Judgment: Extraterritoriality and Imperial Power in Nineteenth-Century China and Japan (Oxford Studies in International History)
Pär Kristoffer Cassel
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Perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, the nineteenth century encounter between East Asia and the Western world has been narrated as a legal encounter. Commercial treaties--negotiated by diplomats and focused on trade--framed the relationships among Tokugawa-Meiji Japan, Qing China, Choson Korea, and Western countries including Britain, France, and the United States. These treaties created a new legal order, very different than the colonial relationships that the West forged with other parts of the globe, which developed in dialogue with local precedents, local understandings of power, and local institutions. They established the rules by which foreign sojourners worked in East Asia, granting them near complete immunity from local laws and jurisdiction. The laws of extraterritoriality looked similar on paper but had very different trajectories in different East Asian countries.
Pär Cassel's first book explores extraterritoriality and the ways in which Western power operated in Japan and China from the 1820s to the 1920s. In Japan, the treaties established in the 1850s were abolished after drastic regime change a decade later and replaced by European-style reciprocal agreements by the turn of the century. In China, extraterritoriality stood for a hundred years, with treaties governing nearly one hundred treaty ports, extensive Christian missionary activity, foreign controlled railroads and mines, and other foreign interests, and of such complexity that even international lawyers couldn't easily interpret them. Extraterritoriality provided the springboard for foreign domination and has left Asia with a legacy of suspicion towards international law and organizations. The issue of unequal treaties has had a lasting effect on relations between East Asia and the West.
Drawing on primary sources in Chinese, Japanese, Manchu, and several European languages, Cassel has written the first book to deal with exterritoriality in Sino-Japanese relations before 1895 and the triangular relationship between China, Japan, and the West. Grounds of Judgment is a groundbreaking history of Asian engagement with the outside world and within the region, with broader applications to understanding international history, law, and politics.
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case demonstrates the extent to which Manchus and Han Chinese commoners were integrated in the judicial system in Manchuria in the late Qing period. There is some evidence that Manchus in China proper pushed back when they felt that their social standing was being threatened in legal proceedings. In 1898, there were two reported incidents involving violent bannermen from the Jingzhou garrison. They not only harassed the local population but also turned on the judicial subprefect when he dared to
turned their faces.”145 The decree referred to the notorious statute in the Kujikata Osadamegaki that allowed members of the samurai class to cut down commoners with impunity (kirisute gomen) if they dared to behave insolently. It is not clear to what extent samurai actually exercised this infamous privilege,146 but references like this ensured that kirisute gomen would endure in collective memory.147 The coup de grâce to the special status of samurai was dealt in 1876, when the ancient samurai
increasingly influential group of officials in Beijing were pushing for stern measures against the opium trade and a hard-line stance against the British.56 The British, for their part, made a clear departure from tributary protocol by insisting that their understanding of contemporary diplomatic relations should guide Sino-British relations, a demand to which the Qing emperor obviously could not concede. Following a brief debate whether the problems surrounding the opium trade could be resolved
that too much foreign involvement might lead to undue interference. As things stood after the approval of the Mixed Court rules in 1869, it may seem that the foreign ministers had gotten the better of the Qing authorities on the question of jurisdiction over foreigners in mixed cases. But the exact jurisdiction and construction of the court was still not entirely clear, as was demonstrated by a case of homicide that occurred a couple of months after the Mixed Court rules were adopted.