Pacific Strife

The Great Powers and their Political and Economic Rivalries in Asia and the Western Pacific 1870-1914

Kees van Dijk

Pacific Strife

Kees van Dijk

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

568 pages | 36 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $155.00 ISBN: 9789089644206 Published June 2015 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, colonial powers clashed over much of Central and East Asia: Great Britain and Germany fought over New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Fiji, and Samoa; France and Great Britain competed over control of continental Southwest Asia; and the United States annexed the Philippines and Hawaii. Meanwhile, the possible disintegration of China and Japan’s growing nationalism added new dimensions to the rivalries.

Surveying these and other international developments in the Pacific basin during the three decades preceding World War I, Kees van Dijk traces the emergence of superpowers during the colonial race and analyzes their conduct as they struggled for territory. Extensive in scope, Pacific Strife is a fascinating look at a volatile moment in history.


1  Steam and Istmus Canals

2  Rivalries in the Western Pacific

    In search of new markets and political influence

    The great Russian-French combination

    China’s Open Doors

    Great Britain’s search for an ally

3  Planters, Traders and Labour in the South Pacific

    The ocean of the future

    The white settlers

    Labour traffic

    Commerce and politics

    Conflicts over land

    Policing the Pacific

4  Fiji: The Start of Anglo-German Rivalry in the Pacific

    Germany’s ambitions

    The reign of King Cakobau

    The aftermath of annexation

5  The Samoa Conflict

    An American takes control

    Weber goes on the offensive

6  Germany Enters the Colonial Race

    Australian claims and fears

    The Moresby annexation

    Bismarck’s Reichstag debacle

    The New Guinea expedition

    The Queensland annexation

7  The New Guinea Protectorates

    The hoisting of German flags

    The hoisting of British flags

    Australian astonishment and indignation

    New negotiations and hoisting of flags

    A different style of diplomacy

    The Anglo-German colonial honeymoon

    The wider South Pacific

8  Great Britain, Russia and the Central Asian Question

    Persia and Afghanistan and the threat to India

    Russian moves and British countermoves

9  Samoa Remains a Source of International Tension

    Germany presses on

    The Tonga Islands

    Civil war in Samoa

10 The Emerging Economic World Powers

    Germany’s world politics

    America’s large policy

    Asia for the Asians

    Building strong navies

    The American-Japanese naval race

11 Great Britain, France and Southeast Asia

    The French military expeditions to Tonkin

    The end of the Kingdom of Ava

12 The French Expansion Westwards into Southeast Asia

    The Franco-Thai war

    Continued British-French rivalry

    The Anglo-French Declaration

13 Russia, Japan and the Chinese Empire

    The Sino-Japanese War

    Russo-Japanese strife over Korea

14 Thailand and Beyond

    The Race for Yunnan

    An ambitious Governor-General

    The Malay Peninsula

15 The Scramble for China: The Bay of Jiaozhou and Port Arthur

    The consequences of military defeat

    Port Arthur

16 The British Reaction: Wei-Hai-Wei


    Railway concessions

17 The Scramble for China Continues: Guangzhouwan and Tibet

    The Boxer Rebellion

    The British incursion into Tibet

    How far to enter into Tibet

    The Anglo-Tibetan Convention

18 The Failed Annexation of Hawaii

    American interests in Hawaii

    The white settlers take charge

    Annexation or not?

19 The United States Becomes a Colonial Empire

    The Japanese spectre

    The Philippines, unexpected spoils of war

    The American Empire

20 The Partition of Samoa

    New negotiations

    Samoa under foreign rule

21 The Russo-Japanese War

    Preparing for war

    The Anglo-Japanese Alliance

    The Korean question

    The Russo-Japanese war

22 Great Britain’s Search for Secure Colonial Frontiers

    The South Pacific

    The Entente Cordiale

    The Anglo-Russian Convention

    The Persian Question

23 The United States, Japan and the Pacific Ocean

    Japan’s role in the Pacific

    American-Japanese relation

    Russia and Japan guarding their spheres of influence

    Japan and Russia consolidate their position in China

    Japan and the Pacific

24 Epilogue



List of Treaties, Agreements and Joint Statements mentioned

Review Quotes
“Van Dijk has mastered the narrative and relevant sources of power politics among the great powers, and includes a welcome focus on the Pacific islands and islanders and their crucial role in growing imperial rivalries. . . . [His] work will richly reward readers. . . . Highly recommended.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style

RSS Feed

RSS feed of the latest books from Amsterdam University Press. RSS Feed