JEAIL > Volume 11(2); 2018 > Notes & Comments
Research Paper
Published online: November 30, 2018

The Triple Intervention: A Forgotten Memory in the Discourse of the Nineteenth Century's International Law

Bijun Xu
School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084 P.R. China.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

The 19th century's international law distinguished civilized from non-civilized States resulting in any country desiring equal treatment was required to obtain recognition from those already deemed civilized. Japan was able to join the civilized world by presenting a civilized image of itself in the First Sino-Japanese War, which was depicted by Western legal scholars as a clash between barbarism and civilization. Neither Japanese nor Western scholars of international law, however, have touched on the issue of the Triple Intervention. This incident serves as a case study for re-evaluating the operation of Western countries' international legal standards. The argument is, that these countries cloak their motives in legal language for self-aggrandizement, thereby demonstrating the ahistorical nature of the West's rhetoric of civilization. Further, this incident taught Japan the lesson that international law is concerned not with morality but with power.

Keywords : The Triple Intervention, 19th century's International Law, Discourse of Civilization, Japan, First Sino-Japanese War

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