First Sino-Japanese War
The Sino-Japanese War was fought from 1894-1895 between the Qing Dynasty of China and the Japanese Empire over the control of Korea. Since Korea was the entrance and exit for Japan into the continent, gaining control over Korea was extremely important. Japan invaded Korea, which prompted a response from Qing Dynasty. However, due to the corruption and lack of training in the Qing forces, Japan won the war after invading Taiwan and the Pescadores (Penghu Islands). This win marked the emergence of Japan as a major global power and exposed the weaknesses of the Qing Dynasty.
The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed on April 7, 1985, forcing the Qing Dynasty to recognize the total independence of Korea and cede the Liaodong Peninsula, Taiwan and Penghu Islands to Japan “in perpetuity.”
At this time, Taiwan was heavily sought after as it had plentiful amount of resources such as sugar, rice and tea.
Republic of Formosa
Taiwan had been under the Qing Dynasty’s rule from 1683 to 1895, and its coastal cities were mainly inhabited by Han people. The thought of being ruled by foreigners was something that the people could not put up with. Tang Jingsong, the Qing governor-general of Taiwan, looked to form the Republic of Formosa. Gathering the public to fight off foreigners was not the only reason for the formation of this republic. After signing the Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Qing Dynasty could not go against the treaty by supporting people in Taiwan to fight the Japanese. However, if the rebels set themselves up as an independent nation, they would be considered a foreign government and seek the Qing Dynasty’s support. The Republic of Formosa was proclaimed on May 23, 1895.
On May 29, Japanese forces invaded northern Taiwan, and in a five-month campaign defeated the Republic of Formosan forces and occupied the island’s main towns. The campaign effectively ended on October 21, 1895 with the flight of Liu Yongfu, the second Republican president, and the surrender of the Republican capital of Tainan. The Republic of Formosa lasted a total of five months.
Japan vs. Taiwan Volunteer Troops
After the Japanese troops and government entered Taipei, they headed down south to take over the rest of Taiwan. This campaign was set to be accomplished in one month, but instead took five months. Compared to the officials of the Republic of Formosa, the volunteer troops that had amassed around Taiwan were the true deterrents of the Japanese troops.
While the Japanese troops were able to enter Taipei with ease, their trek down south was met with heavy resistance. Many Hakka families were starting to take up arms against the Japanese troops. Led by Chiang Sao-Chu (姜紹祖), Shu Shiang (徐驤), and Wu Tang-Xing (吳湯興), the volunteer troops fought the Japanese from Taoyuan all the way down to Changhua–where, in the Battle of Baguashan, saw the end of the Hakka volunteer troops and its leaders.
After the fall of the Republic of Formosa, Hokkien volunteer troops also took up arms and fought against the Japanese from 1896 to 1902.