Throughout the late nineteenth century Germany was as involved as any European power in the fight to carve up China for political and commercial advantage. The United States, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, and France also issued stamps for their sovereign city states on the Chinese mainland. These city states were land ceded by the Chinese government on long term leases to European governments. These leases were negotiated by the Chinese from a position of political weakness and often were made literally at gun point. Hong Kong which reverted back to China when the lease expired in the 1990s was an example of one of these European imperial ventures that continued to our time. The Peoples Republic of China has continued to administer Hong Kong as a separate unit because it has provided easy access to Western capital.
               The Germans contracted for land by the bay of Jiauzhou in northern China in 1898. Of all the numerous Western possessions that were pried from the crippled Chinese government at that time, only the British in Hong Kong and the Germans in Kiauchau (the German spelling of Jiauzhou)issued separate, non overprinted stamps for their colonies. The stamps of Kiauchau are some of the most beautiful in the world and run that gamut from fairly easy to obtain to some of the rarest in the hobby. When Germany lost WWI, the Chinese expected that the Colony of Kiauchau would be returned to them by the Treaty of Versailles. Instead, in a precursor of territorial ambition that was to be one of the causes of WWII, Japan muscled in and was awarded all of the German Colonies in China. Hindsight is of course 20-20, but it is hard to understand how the negotiators at Versailles really felt that they were putting a fair and fitting end to the Great War and not just setting up the stage for part II.

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