The Jiaozhou Bay was a German colonial concession which existed from 1898 to 1914. With an area of 552 km², it was located in the imperial province of Shandong on the southern coast of the Shandong Peninsula in northern China. Jiaozhou was romanized as Kiaochow, Kiauchau or Kiao-Chau in English and Kiautschou in German. Qingdao (Tsingtao) was the administrative center.
But a global policy (Weltpolitik) without global military influence appeared impracticable, so a navy was built. This fleet was supposed to give German interests emphasis during peace (gunboat diplomacy) and to protect the German trade routes and disturb hostile ones during war (cruiser war concept). A network of global naval bases was a key requirement for this intention.
Nevertheless, the acquisition of a harbor in China should serve another purpose: considering the heavy strain accorded to the building of a fleet, a Chinese colony should also promote the navy. Therefore Jiaozhou was from the start subjected to the idea of a model colony: all installations, the administration, the surrounding infrastructure, the utilization had to show the Chinese, the Germans and the world the exceptionally effective German colonial policy.
On November 1, 1897, the Big Sword Society planned to assassinate German priest Georg Stenz, from the Steyler Mission. When the assassins arrived, Stenz was not at home, so two other German missionaries who were in the house were brutally hacked up and murdered in Juye County in western Shandong. The "Juye incident" gave Kaiser Wilhelm II a pretext to occupy the Bay and even before the Chinese government was informed about the murder, Admiral von Diederichs, commander of the East Asian Squadron, was ordered on November 7 to carry out the occupation; he was the only Military Governor (until 7 March 1898). On November 14 German naval infantry landed on the beaches and occupied the area without a fight. China tried to obtain a withdrawal of the troops but in vain. On November 20, the German-Chinese negotiations began, which resulted in the settlement of the missionary incident on January 15, 1898.
A few months later, on March 6, the German Empire leased the Bay for 99 years from the Chinese government (as the British did in Hong Kong's New Territories). Only six weeks later (on April 6, 1898) the area was officially put under German protection, opening the treaty port on July 1, 1899; at that time the region was populated by approximately 83,000 inhabitants.
As a result of the German-Chinese lease contract the Chinese government gave up the exercise of all its sovereign rights within the leased territory (to which the city of Jiaozhou did not belong) as well as in a 50km wide security zone. The "Gouvernement Kiautschou" remained part of China under imperial sovereignty, but for the duration of the lease turned into a German Schutzgebiet (protectorate). Moreover the Chinese government gave the German Empire concessions for the construction of two railway lines and the mining of local coal deposits. Even the parts of Shandong outside of the German protectorate came under German influence. Although the lease contract set limits to the German expansion, it became starting point for the following cessions of Port Arthur to Russia, of Weihaiwei to Great Britain and Kwang-Chou-Wan to France.
Because of the importance which the protectorate had for the reputation of the German navy, it was not put under the supervision of the Imperial colonial office (Reichskolonialamt) but under that of the Imperial naval office (the Reichsmarineamt or RMA).
At the top of the colony stood the governor (all five office holders were senior navy officers), who was directly subordinated to the secretary of state of the RMA, Alfred von Tirpitz. The governor was head of the military and the civil administration within the colony. The former was run by the chief of staff and deputy governor, the latter by the Zivilkommissar [civil commissioner]. Further important functionaries of Jiaozhou were the official for the construction of the harbor, and after 1900 the chief justice and the 'Commissioner for Chinese Affairs.' The Gouvernementsrat [government council of the protectorate] and after 1902 the 'Chinese Committee' acted as organs of advice for the governor. The departments of finance, construction, education and medical services were directly subordinated to the governor, because these were crucial with regard to the idea of a model colony.
Jiaozhou indeed was transformed into a modern realm. Tsingtao was laid out with wide streets, solid housing areas, electrification throughout, a sewer system and a clean drinking water supply, a rarity in large parts of Asia at the time. The area had the highest schools density and highest per capita student enrollment in all of China, with primary, secondary and vocational schools funded by the Berlin treasury and Protestant and Roman Catholic missions.
With the expansion of economic activity and public works, German banks opened branch offices, the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank being the most prominent. The completion of the Shantung Railroad in 1910 provided a connection to the Trans-Siberian Railway and thus allowed travel by train from Tsingtao to Berlin.
After the Chinese revolution of 1911 ran its course, many wealthy Chinese and politically connected ex-officials settled in the colony because of the safe and orderly environment it offered. Sun Yat-sen visited the Tsingtao area and stated in 1912, “ ... I am impressed. The city is a true model for China’s future.”
Governors (all were naval officers with the rank of Captain [Kapitän zur See])
|Carl Rosendahl||7 March 1898 – 19 February 1899|
|Otto Jäschke||19 February 1899 – 27 January 1901 (died in office)|
|Max Rollmann||27 January 1901 – 8 June 1901 (acting)|
|Oskar von Truppel||8 June 1901 – 19 August 1911|
|Alfred Meyer-Waldeck||19 August 1911 – 7 November 1914|