Departure from Asia

Spain in the Philippines and East Asia in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries


The Nineteenth Century

Continuity: 1810-1840

The Colonial Opportunity: 1840-1868.

The Strategic Fear: 1868-1898

The Last Century of Spanish Colonial Presence in Asia

The Twentieth Century

Private Links: 1898-1931

World Politics and War: 1931-1945

The “Back Door” to the United States

The 1898 Bumper Effect

Policy Toward Asia in Democratic Spain



Florentino Rodao

Universidad Complutense de Madrid



Although the Iberian Peninsula led the European arrival to the Asia-Pacific region and Spanish colonization of the Philippines dated from the sixteenth century, the role of Contemporary Spain in this dynamic region has been very limited. One of the most significant changes in the Asia-Pacific region during the nineteenth century was the decline of Spain’s position. Having once enjoyed the status of one of the main Western powers in the region, Spain became the first colonial power to be expelled after defeat at the hands of the United States in the war of 1898. Since that time, Spain has not been able to recover from that episode and Asia has commanded little interest in the national psyche.

For centuries, Asia has commanded little attention from Spanish decision makers. Spain’s general decline as a world power and its domestic problems can explain it only partially; its presence in Asia has been characterized by its own independent dynamic that can be traced even to its early days. The abnormally small presence of Spain in Asia can be attributed to several very different factors, such as history, domestic hegemonies, international politics, or colonial perception, but this article will focus the study of the Spanish presence on the days when the Philippines was still ruled from Mexico, until the present times, when Spain has attempted to regain some of the lost ground. The focus will be in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, considering the forced departure from the region in 1898 merely as one link in the chain. Furthermore, the course of events is analyzed through an interdisciplinary perspective, which the author considers most effective for fully explaining the events.

At the height of Spanish imperial power, Asia was a crucial target, but only for a short time. After settling in the Philippines in the 1570s and joining hands with Portuguese in the 1580s in the Union of the Iberian Crowns, Spain undertook projects of conquest in China and expeditions to Cambodia in the 1590s. These reflected the hope of expanding and stimulating a second wave of exploitation and conquest in East Asia, similar to that in the Americas decades before. Those efforts failed and the cooperation with Portuguese soon dwindled. After the turn of the seventeenth century, the profitable silver route of galleons from Mexico to Manila, despite its enormous value, was a remote affair to Madrid and the Spanish imperial crown.[i] From the perspective of Madrid, Asia’s significance was limited to a strategic area to defend the galleon route from Dutch attacks, considerations which were no doubt behind the conquest of the only two regional outposts Spain occupied: Taiwan (briefly) and Micronesia, especially the island of Guam.

The Catholic Church was the greatest benefactor of this diminishing role of the Pacific outposts. Missionary orders used their unusually prominent role in the Philippines to expel most lay Spaniards settled permanently in the islands, especially hacenderos out of Manila that could balance Church influence over the islanders. They effectively spread the gospel and, at the same time, enhanced their own influence. As a colony governed in essence by another colony (Mexico), the Philippines never received great attention from Madrid, which did little to challenge the friars’ excessive power. Moreover, the colonial administration in the Philippines remained faithful to the power of the Catholic Church, which was never counterbalanced by any other interest group on the islands, much less the governor or the small bureaucracy.

Profit from the silver trade diminished in the middle third of the seventeenth century, and for the next century the nature of Spanish presence in the Philippines would change little until a new breeze brought by Enlightenment was felt. The two-year British occupation of Manila begun in 1762 served to reinvigorate the Spanish government in the Philippine capital. It subsequently opened the first direct link across the Indian Ocean to the Spanish peninsula and imposed a new tax system designed to make the colony self-financing. The nineteenth century, then, brought new ideas and the possibility of a direct link to the peninsula for a colony in a remote area that had stagnated throughout most of its existence. There was a chance for a new beginning for Spain in Asia if the longstanding pattern of laziness and unmitigated church dominance could be overcome.

The Nineteenth Century


The overall context of European presence in the Asia Pacific region changed dramatically after the turn of the nineteenth century. Among the European powers, only Holland, Spain, and Portugal maintained colonial possessions there, chiefly in the form of several coastal outposts with hinterlands of varying sizes. New European powers (mainly France and England) advanced from India and settled closer to China and Japan: Colonialism was making important inroads in the region. The impact of the galleon trade in East Asia subsided after the rise of trade links in several new commodities between Canton and European ports, which left the Philippines marginalized in the region.[ii] Meanwhile, the main focus of colonial attention for the Spanish lay on the other shore of the Pacific, that is, with the independence movements of the Hispanic American colonies, with the exception of Cuba and Puerto Rico.  Like the Caribbean island colonies, the Philippines did not revolt and remained loyal to the Crown, but the independence of New Spain in 1810 directly affected its role in the diminished empire, given that until then Manila depended both politically and financially on the newly independent Republic of Mexico.  The events of the early nineteenth century therefore gave rise to the possibility of a new role within the Spanish Empire for the Pacific archipelago beyond the secondary position it had held under the Mexican viceroys. With three main island territories remaining under Madrid’s control, and the galleon route a memory, the Philippines were in a position to further the reforms taken since the Enlightenment and to forge a stronger colony. But this would not be an easy task.

Continuity (1810-1840)


France and Britain made further incursions into Asia in this period. Although the French Revolution and the conflicts in Europe slowed European expansion, as with French settlement in Vietnam, the British soon recovered their initiative and in 1819 established a new base in Singapore, hitherto a small fishing outpost. The Philippines saw also important changes during the first third of the century, the impacts of which were crucial for Spanish colonialism. These included the establishment of a new trade route via the Cape of Good Hope and further colonial penetration into the hinterland. Neither of these developments resulted from the influence of private interests, as one might expect, but rather from the new possibilities for state revenue after the creation of a tax on popular consumption in the countryside: “The Philippines was turned into a colony, in fact, due to the impulse of the state.”[iii]

This mild reinvigoration of Spanish colonization in the Philippines, however, amounted to a false start. Spain was in turmoil domestically and in the colonies.  The rupture of ties between the Peninsula and Mexico, the territory where the Manila galleons landed, coupled with the Peninsular War against Napoleon and continued instability under king Ferdinand VIII, were the worst news the Philippines could receive in their path to development.

The presence of Spain in Asia was weakened by the numerous crises unfolding inside the Iberian Peninsula. Madrid fought in alliance against the United Kingdom, suffering defeat at Trafalgar. Spain joined forces with Britain to expel the Napoleonic invasion, after which followed the reign of one of the worst monarchs in Spanish history, during which most of the American colonies fought and won independence. The new scenario limited the Spanish Empire to three main colonies, all of them islands: Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The Philippines was now Spain’s largest colony, though this fact was of little import because the immense profits obtained from Cuban sugar exports attracted the lion’s share of early capitalists’ and officials’ attention. During the fist decades of the nineteenth century, there was no thrust toward Asia and no invigoration of the colonial government, while capital investment in the Philippines, whether directly from the Americas or indirectly from the Spanish metropolis, was negligible. The main attempt to strengthen the Pacific colony was the declaration of Manila as Free Port (Puerto Franco) in 1837. The Philippines languished during this period. Governors of Spanish colonies possessed considerable power to define policies, a practice which in the Philippines’ case yielded little reform.

The improvement of Spanish contacts with other parts Asia was minimal and it is even possible to identify clear signs showing the decline of the Spanish colonial rank in Asia. A French proposal in the 1830s to buy from Madrid the small island of Basilan, in the southern Philippines, to be used in its expansion around Southeast Asia following the example of British Singapore, is one indication of a widespread perception at the time that Spain was weaker in Asia than other powers.

The Colonial Opportunity (1840-1868)


The first Opium War (1840-42) triggered the main changes in Asia during the nineteenth century. The Chinese defeat not only led to the British settlement of Hong Kong, but also dismantled the traditional hegemony of China over the rest of the region. Beijing proved incapable of defending even its own territory from foreign attacks, and the impact of the military defeat was large, even in not-so-isolated Japan. The military might of Europeans forced Asian governments to accept a kind of secondary status in their dealings, such as the so-called Unequal Treaties, which provided for high fees on their imports and granting Westerners the right of extraterritoriality, which excluded local tribunals from handling violations of the law committed by foreigners.

Spain shared the European colonialist euphoria in these times, hoping also benefit from the new imperial wave both in trade and territories. Diplomatic efforts soon began. The first treaty with China was signed in Nanjing in 1842 after a mission led by a diplomat-traveler, Sinibald de Mas. This was followed decades later by a new Treaty of Friendship and Navigation, and treaties with Japan in 1868 and Siam 1870, which further expanded the Spanish diplomatic presence in Asia. These years marked the peak of Spanish colonial interest in Asia, especially when the Unión Liberal party dominated national politics. Madrid sent expeditions to Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Peru or Morocco, some of them with thinly disguised colonial aims, and later to Southeast Asia. The killing of a Dominican missionary there in 1856 gave Madrid and the self-proclaimed protector of Catholicism in overseas territories, France, a convenient excuse to send a joint punishment operation after declaring unsatisfactory the explanation given by the government of Annam. The mission, or Cochinchina Expedition (1857-1863), was a military success, easily winning over the Vietnamese and even seizing the city of Saigon. From the perspective of the then-prevailing colonizing mentality, the move appears as part of a coherent plan to reach the closest mainland territory to the Philippines. The Cochinchina Expedition certainly could have led to renewed awareness in Spain about Asia, to an increase the Philippines’ foreign trade, and even to Spanish colonial expansion in the region since the Asian markets were opening in those years and Southeast Asia was the most obvious place to expand from Manila.

The intensification of colonialist activities, however, did not renew Spain’s vigor in Asia.  The trade treaties failed to attract new contacts and trade with the signatory countries remained above expectations. The peace treaty provided for Spain to receive half of the war indemnity, but France was the major beneficiary of these military triumphs because of its financial and military might. In any case, the Franco-Spanish military alliance was uneven. Although Spain provided most of the troops – including Filipino soldiers – the difference in firing power was immense: only one of the initial thirteen warships used against the Annam government was Spanish (the Elcano, which was armed only with two cannons), while all France’s vessels were armed at least with four and her main frigate, Nemesis, had 52 pieces.[iv] The strength available to France allowed her to profit from the military triumphs and to continue a political pressure that ended after some years in the colonization of all Southeast Asia, which would have been impossible for Spain. The end of the Cochinchina war coincided with the final crisis of the reign of Queen Isabel II, partly out of these foreign fiascos and the tremendous financial costs of the expansionism.[v] The internal crisis after 1863 was not resolved until the Queen was defeated and exiled in 1868, starting a new six-year political course that proved no more capable of tackling the domestic instability but only created further problems. The metropolis didn’t help much, certainly, for the development of the Philippines.

Domestic instability and its particularly negative impact in Asia provoked a crucial change in Spanish perceptions of East Asia. The optimistic images of opening Asian territories and the expectations of benefit turned into pessimism and fear. The groundwork for the Treaty of Friendship with the kingdom of Siam shows this clearly, since it took more than a decade from the first reports until it was finally signed. Spain started preparations in 1858, merely two years after London signed the first such treaty, expecting to play a bigger role in Siam in the wake of the victory in the Cochinchina Expedition, and considering the Treaty a springboard for increasing Spain’s presence in the region. The plans were delayed, however, and when a Spanish ambassador was sent to Bangkok to sign the treaty in 1870, the directives had changed: he was warned not to accept any new clause by which other countries could benefit in the Philippines from any legal loophole. Initially aiming to expand its role in Asia, Spain underwent a complete change of attitude. The documentation shows that the main reason for going ahead with the Treaty was to avoid unfavorable comparisons with other colonial powers. It was the turning point for both Madrid and Manila in Asia, since they were in the same position as the Asian governments at this time: on the defensive.

The Strategic Fear (1868-1898)


During the last third of the nineteenth century, at the high tide of imperialism, Spain harbored mixed feelings about colonization, trying to expand in order to demonstrate its rightful place as a colonial power while at the same time fearing the loss of her old colonies. The main concern of Madrid as the imperial race became more intense was the possibility of some other country usurping its possessions.  This was not a groundless fear; Cuba suffered a widespread rebellion that was defeated only after large expenditures that left the colonial treasure into a state of permanent debt. In the Philippines, the Cavite Mutiny in 1870 shows that unrest also increased and, although was suffocated more easily, it left many demands unresolved. The period saw important attempts at reinvigorating the colonization, such as the creation of the Overseas Ministry (Ministerio de Ultramar) and the Philippine Exposition of 1887. Both were made possible by newfound domestic stability and the Catalan impulse in colonial policy, and produced excellent economic results. As Benito Legarda notes, “Spain had in a few years managed to lift itself to a position of importance in Philippine commerce”[vi] The Philippines certainly were increasingly perceived in Spain as the colonial priority, as Cuba appeared to be switching allegiance to the United States. In fact, the annual budget dedicated to the Pacific archipelago increased a total of 15.5% from 1894 to 1897, while that of Cuba remained stagnated after 1892.[vii] But the economic recovery never translated into political results. Amid these overwhelming fears, Spain had three main aims in East Asia during the last third of the century: sending Chinese labor to Cuba, trade, and new efforts at expansion.

The most important target for Spain in Asia along the nineteenth century was to transport unskilled workers from Asian shores to Cuba in order to provide labors for its sugar mills. After difficulties for transportation of African slaves became insurmountable, sugar mill owners in Cuba involved Spanish officials in search of an alternative. China was soon considered the best substitute, and workers were taken to Cuba as early as the above-mentioned treaty of 1842. This first agreement was not a definitive solution, especially after increasing protests over working conditions and transportation in Beijing made recruitment difficult. The port of Macao replaced Beijing as the main transport hub for Asian labor. The General Consulate, the highest-ranking Spanish office in China, was in fact maintained in this Portuguese enclave until 1874, when international pressure forced Spain to grant the Chinese the same labor standards accorded to other foreign workers in Cuba. The Chinese workers lost their advantage in cost, but Spain continued to recruit new workers from the same area. As a consequence, the most resourceful expedition to East Asia any diplomat had enjoyed in the entire century was sent and, for two years, an ambassador with a warship at his service visited cities and governments in Southeast Asia in order to explore the feasibility of sending new labor to Cuba.

Spanish trade with East Asia was also an obvious target for Spain in Asia. Spain exported only a few products of little value, such as sherry, raisins, and small arms, whereas it imported mainly forests products, sometimes in significant quantities, and commodities like pepper. The trade between the Philippines with the rest of Asia was based mostly on cotton manufactures and rice brought directly from Southeast Asia, while main exports were sugar and Manila hemp. In any case, the figures never showed the trade to be important, partly due to the complementarities of the Philippine economy with its neighboring territories and partly due to the failure of the statistics to indicate products’ final destinations because of the role of Hong Kong and Singapore as hub for commodities in Asia.[viii]

Thirdly, imperial ambitions never disappeared. The idea remained prevalent that a nation had to expand to show its vitality or else it would die. The Berlin Conference of 1885 and the rule that effective occupation of a territory trumped historical rights had an impact Spanish presence in the Pacific, making Spain aware that the rights over many Micronesian islands dating from fifteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish landings should be brought up to date (if desired) with formal declarations of sovereignty. Madrid sent a warship to Yap in order to legalize its imperial claims over Micronesia, but Germany harbored similar ambitions. A German ship arrived only four days later and performed the same ceremony claiming the Spanish one was void on a technicality. As a consequence, Madrid and Berlin entered a bitter dispute, with massive demonstrations in Spain passionately claiming Spanish rights over the far-away territories. Finally, Pope Leo XIII was asked to arbitrate the dispute, and decided that Spain had the right to claim legal sovereignty over the islands but made clear that she should allow German companies to continue operating in Micronesia. This late Spanish expansion in the Pacific, then, was another frustrating colonial experience. Besides the pride of adding territories, Madrid had to bear the costs of imperial overextension, of chronic rebellions in Pohnpei, and, what is more, was now obligated to permit Germany, in particular the copper merchant Jalluit Geshellschaft, to reap the economic profits.[ix]

The last decade of the nineteenth century witnessed growing fears over the future of Spanish presence in the Philippines. Those fears about the future of the islands were indicated by the increasing budget for warships to defend the islands, but also through a migratory policy prioritizing security over long-term commercial advantages. The increasing number of Japanese and Chinese to the Philippines and Micronesia was perceived with suspicion in Madrid, which feared that they could act as fifth-columnists, back a foreign invasion, and even worse, form a racial alliance with Filipinos that could trigger the Spanish departure from Asia.[x] Yellow Peril fears blinded Spaniards. Finally, when the Philippine Revolution broke out in 1896 and the United States decision to remain in the Philippines (and an island that could serve as a post for communications) forced the definitive departure of Spain from Asia, the end of the three centuries of presence in Asia was not received with great sadness in Spain. Spaniards mourned the loss of Cuba, but the economic elites went so far as to welcome the defeat of the Admiral Montojo’s Armada in Manila to the United States, as shown by the rise in the Madrid’s stock market upon the reception of the news.

The Last Century of Spanish Colonial Presence in Asia


            Over the course of a century characterized by colonial expansion, Spain followed the opposite trajectory in Asia. Rather than increasing its territorial holdings, it was the first power to be expelled. Domestic problems in the metropolis coupled with the emergence in the Philippines of a nationalist elite can explain this apparent anomaly, but, in relation to Asia, three additional reasons can be summoned: (1) the lack of administrative resources; (2) the role of the Philippines as a hindrance for expansion in Asia; and (3) the disproportionate role of the exotic and orientalizing images when defining policies.

First, the Spanish administration was unevenly installed in Asia. Its diplomatic-consular network in East Asia had some special features that did not help: for example, the maintenance of the chancellery and the payment of fees to the chancellor for his work led to an inflated consular bureaucracy. Moreover, the Manila colonial government contributed very little to Spanish consular presence in Asia, and the Chinese were prohibited from using honorary consuls, private Spanish nationals holding special authorization to perform official consular duties. The permanent Spanish embassy was opened in Beijing, while the General Consulates were placed in Yokohama (but not in Tokyo), Singapore, and in Macao (transferred to Shanghai in 1868).[xi] Opportunities for Spaniards to pursue diplomatic careers were scarce due to the constantly changing destinations, the difficult demands of many posts, and the high proportion of diplomats sent to Asia against their wishes.  All these factors point to the difficulties in achieving an effective diplomatic deployment in Asia. Most diplomats who went to Asia did so out of obligation, and departed from the area as soon as possible. Madrid never managed to prepare the appropriate personnel for the task of increasing its presence there.

Secondly, the Philippines distorted relations with Asia by hindering passage to the continent. After the expansion of Catholicism in Asia proved futile by the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Catholic Church deliberately obstructed contacts between the archipelago and the mainland by fellow nationals. The Philippines therefore became an obstacle rather than a springboard to the enlargement of Spanish presence in Asia. There were few or no capitalists in Manila that could press to end the near isolation from its neighbors, besides the Chinese junks, and the scarcity of contacts with mainland Asia inherited from Early Modern times had changed little by the nineteenth century. The main efforts to reach the Asian mainland were made by Cuban sugar interests, which were instrumental in getting contacts and experiences with Asia in order to transport Chinese laborers to the Antilles. By contrast, companies in the Philippines relied on foreign transportation and, for example, the first direct line between the Philippines and Japan was inaugurated by the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (日本郵船会社) in 1891, in spite of the many earlier projects from Spanish companies. The individuals living or traveling in East Asia during the nineteenth century were surprisingly few, as shown by the Spanish workers at the Chinese Custom Service between 1854 and 1949: although officially there were 74, the family names show that many were from the Philippines and, in fact, only two or three of those workers were indoor staff, that is, more highly skilled. Only one, the Catalan Francisco Martí, became a commissioner, the post attained by some of Spain’s best-known travelers to the Middle East, such as Sinibald de Mas, Eduard Toda or Alí Bey (Domingo Badía).[xii]

Thirdly, the continuing influence of the most distorted visions of Asia posed a difficult problem to solve. In the case of Spain, the exotic and orientalizing images not only predominated, but were adopted uncritically by officials even though they differed considerably from the first representations created by Spaniards. Throughout the century, Spaniards tended to ascribe to Asians two dominant traits: military might and extreme deference to protocol. Although they ran counter to Spanish interests, most dealings with Asia were informed by these perceptions. Diplomats claimed constantly that “luxury and splendor” was the mostly needed policy with the governments of East Asia while, in case this policy failed, the so-called “gunboat diplomacy” was the next step in obtaining demands from their governments. Unfortunately for the diplomats, the costs of these ideas were excessive for decision makers in Spain, who were largely uninformed about Asia. On the another side, the image of Spain held by the modernizing elites in Asia was filtered through Anglo-Saxon lenses, overburdened again with exotic perceptions like cruelty or passion – probably not the best way to start negotiations. Regardless of their accuracy, the mutual representations strongly influenced the encounters.

The visit to Spain of King Chulalongkorn of Siam in 1897 is an example of the influence of exoticism informing both sides. During a visit to Europe after the strange purchase of a second-hand Spanish warship previously ordered to the Hong Kong dockyards to participate in the defense of the Philippines, the Siamese king witnessed the Spain familiar to any number of Romantic travelers – with Seville, Toledo, and bullfighting as the centerpieces. From the Spanish perspective, although media began with favorable comments about the king’s good manners, the press soon included purported news from French sources that reinforced the idea of Oriental Despotism, the representations changed instantly.  The fallout affected the trip, creating frictions between Spanish and Thai members of the royal entourage that ultimately prompted Chulalongkorn to abandon Spain (and Portugal) sooner than expected. The most surprising fact, however, is the lack of references in the press to Siam’s proximity to the Philippines.

The lack of human channels to Asia, of material resources, and of an essential commodity, and the difficulty in forging regional alliances therefore can also explain some of the obstacle to Spanish incursions in the Pacific area. The most frequent instructions given by the Foreign Affairs Ministry headquarters to the diplomatic corps in Asia clearly illustrates the lack of a policy: “Act like the rest of the powers.” The absence of Spanish initiative, however, was filled not only by other colonial powers, but by Asians as well. As mentioned, the Japanese set forth the first line of steamships between the Philippines and Japan. In addition, the Siamese drove mutual relations even when Spain neglected any kind of official activity with Bangkok between 1887 and 1914.[xiii] Spain suffered a kind of paralysis in Asia.

The Twentieth Century

The Spanish departure from Asia at the turn of the twentieth century marked a kind of liberation. Although the Spanish were first forced out by the military defeat, they soon willingly abandoned remaining interest there and seemingly made an effort to forget the whole experience. After Spain ended its presence in the Philippines and Guam with the Peace Treaty of Paris in 1898 – selling the Philippine territory with no regard for the will of inhabitants or rising nationalist feelings – the Micronesian islands, unwanted by the United States, were sold to the German empire, through a former agreement that was maintained in secret until the end of the negotiations with the United States. In the years to follow, Spain was inactive in confronting the Boxer uprising in China, despite the disappearance of the Spanish representative, then the dean of the diplomatic corps, and despite the fact that several other European countries, such as Belgium and Austria-Hungary, sent troops to free Westerners from Beijing’s Diplomatic Quarter. Amid this panic, the Foreign Ministry even considered closing the Spanish delegation either in Beijing or Tokyo[xiv], although this idea was never carried out. After that, Spain showed little interest in contacts with Japan, China or Siam. Spaniards were not comforted at comparing themselves on equal terms with so-called “Yellow” people – probably because they felt themselves becoming the counterexample to prevailing beliefs in white supremacy over the “Orientals.”

Private Links (1898-1931)

The official relations between Spain and Asia were almost non-existent during the first decades of the century. In the case of Japan, Spain participated in a limited way during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 by providing the Baltic Russian fleet with coal, in spite of British opposition, on its long voyage to the Pacific shores. During the First World War, Madrid was in charge of representing Japan’s interests once it declared war to the Central Powers. In the case of China, by contrast, Madrid refused risking lending money to the post-imperial governments, though it continued to collect the indemnity agreed after the Boxer uprising in 1900.  The Chinese and Siamese efforts to end the Unequal Treaties received cold replies from Madrid, which awaited the decision of the leading powers; however, diplomats in general enjoyed relative freedom of action in the small amount of issues to be decided.

Notwithstanding the departure from the Philippines, Spain’s diplomatic structure of the nineteenth century was largely maintained, including the consulates it opened at the end of the century in the Dutch East Indies and British India. Diplomatic posts generally carried little prestige, with the exceptions the Tokyo delegation, which received a boost as a consequence of Japan’s ascendancy, and the General Consulate in Manila, which become a significant post for diplomats. The personnel problems continued. Even though many of the posts could be filled by honorary consuls, it was often difficult to find merchants ready to commit to the task of representing Spain. The consulate in Shanghai, for instance, was vacant for years because the ministry did not find anybody willing to accept the designation of honorary consul, and eventually a person residing in Manila received the commission. The quality of the diplomats appointed to Asia was not much better. Many took the job as a last quiet post before retirement, or, in contrast to the nineteenth century, after committing mistakes in other posts. The Marqués De Dosfuentes, for instance, was appointed minister in China after the government of Venezuela revoked his diplomatic placet due to a number of careless political comments. When the Spanish diplomat Luis Pastor’s wife abandoned him in New York to live with another man, his fate was a front-page item in some newspapers. The solution: reassign him to China.

Trade can be considered generally light but occasionally relevant. Spain continued to export the same products as in the previous century, including raisins, sherry, and small arms. Its most important Asian imports were raw tobacco from the Philippines, Japanese perfumes and silks (partly as the result of a fashionable japonismo), and woods and spices from other territories. Japanese products, mostly cheap goods of low quality, probably arrived at a higher rate than statistics indicate because of the intermediate role of other ports, particularly in Morocco, in distributing the merchandise around the region. Chinese vendors of those Japanese goods were numerous throughout Spain, as evidenced by many a popular song lyric from this period.

The most transcendental event for Spanish relations with Asia in the twentieth century was the American colonization of the Philippines. After 1907, the United States permitted Philippine products access to its market, launching numerous profitable business opportunities for the economic sectors able to export to America. Many Spanish companies netted impressive profits. Among them were the Barcelona-based Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas, the biggest private employer in the islands; San Miguel, a brewery owned by Andrés Soriano; the insurance companies owned by the Zobel de Ayala family; the properties and industries of the Elizalde family; and even the missionary orders that invested the compensation funds for their expropriated lands. The situation then took an interesting turn. After the Spanish administration left the Philippines, private individuals and organizations took the lead in promoting contacts, substituting the role assigned to the state. There were still many remnants of the more than three centuries of common history.

World Politics and War (1931-1945)

The Second Spanish Republic (1931-1936) gave rise to a new phase in which Spain began to share with Asian governments similar concerns in the international arena and relations went beyond bilateral contacts. The fall of the Spanish Bourbon monarchy and proclamation of the Second Republic in April 1931 was coldly received by Siam and Japan, both of which delayed its official recognition amid concerns of possible repercussions on their own countries. It was not groundless fear. The following year the Siamese King Prajadhipok was to be the object of a coup d’état that forced him to accept a constitution, and was deposed three years later. In 1935, the Spanish government pushed for the banning of a film that contained scenes it considered defamatory for Spain’s image (The Devil is a Woman [1935], directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich). For the first time, the public opinion in Asia mattered.

During the autumn of 1931, just half a year into the Second Republic, when the Japanese invaded Manchuria, Spain became deeply involved in the diplomatic reaction to the incident at the League of Nations. The Manchurian incident, being the first major challenge to the system of international relations established after World War I, provided the first opportunity for the Second Republic to implement its foreign policy of engaging with Europe through the international organization. The Spanish delegate in Geneva, Salvador de Madariaga, led the denunciations against the Japanese government, and his role was greatly enhanced by representing also the voice of the middling powers. Spain was a member of the Committee of the Five with the most important countries of the League. While the major powers cared about short-term interests, such as trade and the desire to avoid confrontation with the most powerful country in Asia, Madariaga was more concerned with defending the League’s ideals and the affirming its role in defending small and medium-sized countries from the ambitions of larger powers. Madariaga’s famous but futile task in forcing Japan to exit the conquered territories earned him the nickname of “Don Quixote of Manchuria”.

Spanish interest in Asia suddenly increased after the start of the Sino-Japanese War in July 1937, the Iberian nation already embroiled in civil war. In Republican Spain, ideological disputes were increasingly considered universal. With simultaneous armed conflicts involving Spain, China, and Japan, all of the parties were inclined to draw parallels and assume they had allies fighting the same global enemy, and, furthermore, that what affected their counterparts also affected their own fight despite the vast distance separating the two theatres of battle. And since misinformation acquired a crucial role in those wars, the propaganda machines of both sides suddenly search for arguments to his favour in this new conflict. Identifying allies and enemies by ideological criteria, Spaniards began to distinguish Japanese from Chinese by ideology rather than nationality. Exotic “orientalist” perceptions as a consequence, lost ground.

Supporters of Franco’s Nationalists understood the Japanese as fellow anti-Communists on the opposite flank of the Eurasian continent, and the Chinese as their Communist enemies, in spite of the fact that Jiang Jieshi (蔣介石, Chiang Kai-shek) and his Guomindang party (國民黨, Kuomintang) maintained close ties with German Nazis. Spanish Republicans acted in inverse fashion, siding with the Chinese. Even the anarchist press praised Chinese figures such as Sun Zhongsan (孫中山, Sun Yatsen) or Jiang himself despite utter dissonance with anarchist ideals. Among all of the groups, the Chinese Communists were the most crucial promoters of the idea of parallelism. They deployed slogans from the Spanish War to galvanize their troops, such as the famous “No pasarán” [They (fascists) shall not pass] – this time in reference of the seizure of Wuhan (武漢) – and also promoted experiences learned in Spain, such as the cross-class unity against Fascism (Unidad Popular).[xv]

On the Francoist side, inroads to Asia were complicated by Asian countries’ widespread recognition of the Republican government. Italy provided considerable support for the Francoist cause in Asia, being crucial in 1937 in winning Japanese recognition of Nationalist Spain, whose government had been deeply divided over the issue, the diplomatic corps having favored maintaining the status quo and the military supporting Franco. The Italian commitment was so intense that Rome even agreed to recognize the Japanese puppet state in Manchuria, the Manchukuo (滿洲國), established in 1932, in order to win the Japanese acceptance for Franco. The sequence of events left little doubt: Italy recognized Manchukuo on November 30, 1937; Japan recognized Franco’s Spain the following day; and Franco recognized Manchukuo the day after that in an act performed at the Spanish embassy in Italy. This Italian decision to bet on the Japanese policy in Asia was a reversal of previous policy, but also a crucial step for the separation of the world powers into two opposite camps during 1938. Germany finally agreed also to recognize Manchukuo in the month of March, while Tokyo and Berlin, after rebuffs from The Netherlands and Great Britain, invited Rome to join the Anti-Comintern Pact. Italian aid to Franco in his entry onto the Asian stage therefore had unforeseen effects. By being instrumental in helping Spaniards (who, for their part, accepted their subordination to Rome in an area that was not among its priorities), the Italians hoped to enhance their status among the Great Powers.

Spain had a mixed attitude toward Asia during the Second World War. At first its position mirrored the Japanese militarists – initially shocked by Hitler’s pact with the Soviet Union and later restored to the Axis realm by Germany’s victories, though never entering directly in the fight. Although the Hitler-Stalin pact rendered obsolete the Anti-Comintern Pact, Spain and Japan continued to be linked by Spain’s secret adherence to the Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan, agreed to at the meeting of Franco and Hitler at Hendaye in October 1940. Thanks to the political friendship, Spain became the main Western help for Japan’s war effort after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 by collaborating with the Japanese on intelligence in the United States, by representing the interests of Japan in most of the Western Hemisphere, by being ready to sell raw materials, and by using its remaining influence in the Philippines to support Japanese bids to wrest it from American domination.

The unexpected course of the Second World War, however, forced Spain to convert into an enemy of Japan, and nearly a declaration of war. Spain used Japan as a kind of test case for transforming policy from the initial pro-Axis position to one ensuring survival in a postwar world dominated by the Anglo-American allies. In April 1943, Spain started acting as a neutral country by balancing its collaboration with Germany by antagonizing Japan. Franco privately declared his contempt for the Japanese, being followed only some months later by his government, which formally admitted in a statement to the Falangist press that its erstwhile admiration for Japan had been a mistake. When Franco was certain of the Allies triumph and obsessed with the challenge of perpetuating his regime, attacking the Japanese Empire was one of the trump cards he still retained. Franco’s government was even prepared to declare war on Japan and send a second Blue Division, not against the Soviet Union as in 1941, but to fight Japanese. Once the United States and Great Britain made clear that such actions would not persuade them to alter their position towards Spain, Franco chose the milder tack of cancelling the representation of interests and breaking diplomatic relations. After the war’s end, propaganda efforts lost their significance and Japan and Asia returned to the largely forgotten corner of Spanish diplomacy they had occupied previously.

The dramatic change of the Spanish attitude towards Japan was a product of war, but even so it was unusually sudden, passing in just two years from friendship and admiration to contempt. To trace a common leitmotiv of continuity during a period of such quick changes, two facts need to be taken into account: (1) the lack of Spanish specialists in Asia (with the exception of some missionaries), which limited the decision making process to discussions among people, such as Admiral Carrero Blanco and General Franco, who interpreted the Japanese through his experience with the “Orientals” he knew the best, Moroccans; and (2) the quick recovery of the most negative images of the Japanese. Political pressure had brought about the advent of positive images of Japan in Spain, and now forced a return to more negative attitudes. The negative images of Japan did not need to be created, for they were just dormant, latent, or snoozing, but certainly not forgotten. The Spanish sense of racial superiority emerged again. Japanese again were disparaged as “Orientals”, and animosity dating from the Pacific War was revived. No such reversal occurred towards Germany or Italy. 

The “Back Door” to the United States (1945-1975)

The end of the war in the Pacific signalled the low point in Spanish relations with East Asia. The former collaboration with Japan isolated Spain in postwar Asia and the Guomindang, for instance, suppressed the Spanish Legation in 1946 (but not the Consulate in Shanghai) during the Chinese Civil War.[xvi] Private interests in the Philippines lost their former role as a tie that bound Spain to the Philippines, partly owing to the destruction wrought by fighting in the archipelago and partly because the Philippine interest in praising its Spanish past waned in view of Spain’s unfavorable reputation after the war. Spain lost those pillars that had hitherto maintained a certain level of engagement, namely the recent political disputes and the private interests that continued to represent Spain after 1898. Relations with Asia declined again and throughout the Franco dictatorship Asia again became an auxiliary to advance Spanish interests elsewhere.

Two factors prompted Spain to look again toward Asia. For one, some of the religious orders in Japan, especially the Jesuits, became convinced that the Japanese defeat provided the occasion to Christianize the country. Thinking that the sense of despair of the firsts months following the war would continue and even occasion a total overhaul of the Japanese mentality, many in the Franco regime were convinced of the new missionary role in Asia. Secondly, Asia became a venue for Spanish officials to persuade their partners, principally the Americans, that the time had come to accept Spain into the international community and forget past peccadilloes.[xvii] The proclamation of the People’s Republic of China, the Communist guerrilla activity in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Malaysia, and the war in Korea, provided excellent arguments. Communist triumphs in Asia, then, were not entirely bad news for Franco’s avowedly anti-Communist regime. Notwithstanding the obvious concern about enemy advances, the Communist victories reinforced the geo-strategic value of Spain, well protected against a hypothetical Soviet invasion of Western Europe.

During the first years of the Cold War, Asia was important for the Spanish foreign policy, again for propaganda purposes. Still isolated because of its former links with the Axis, but seeking to improve relations with the United States, Spanish diplomats found the indirect character of their contact with Washington to be a luxury. This gave them the chance to discuss and contact officials without upsetting public opinion, as occurred in the rest of the world. Moreover, Spanish diplomats profited from the popular American support for General Macarthur and the Supreme Command of the Allied Forces in Japan, especially its Chief of Intelligence, General Charles A. Willoughby. In addition, Spain benefited from close relations with the main U. S. allies in Asia, such as the Philippines (Friendship Treaty signed as early as September, 1947), Japan (Friendship Treaty in 1952, just after independence) and Thailand (Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Navigation in 1952), while the Guomindang in Taiwan finally agreed to establish contacts with Spain. In 1953, finally, the United States (and the Vatican) decided to renew relations with Spain, a move followed in 1955 with the acceptance to Spain into the United Nations. The Spanish isolation was ended.

In his book Una política exterior para España, published in 1980, Socialist Foreign Minister Fernando Morán characterized the Franco regime’s relations with the Arab World and Latin America as a “Substitution Policy”, a tool for the isolated regime to open communication with the West through friendly countries.[xviii] Once European countries dared to speak to Spain directly, however, Madrid disparaged those contacts with Arabs or Latinos. Spanish relations towards East Asia can be understood in similar terms, as they were also considered secondary and went unattended once relations with Western countries improved. The shortness of the period of interest with Asia and the almost exclusive focus towards the United States are therefore the most salient feature of the contacts with this area.

Franco’s Spain recognized the sovereignty of Asian countries as they attained independence. Madrid maintained official positions not only on the war in Korea, but also the internal struggles in Southeast Asia, notably the fall of Sukarno and the Vietminh’s triumph in Vietnam. For its part, King Shihanouk of Cambodia visited Spain in 1958 to balance his visits to some East European countries under the shadow of Moscow. Also, relations with South Vietnam increased in importance as the war there escalated.[xix] The most difficult decision to explain, however, was in 1973, when Spain and the People’s Republic of China established mutual relations. The rapprochement between the Washington and Beijing and Spain’s relatively cold relations with Taipei can explain the Spanish decision to establish relations with a Communist country. Nevertheless, we must not dismiss the fact that the lack of Spanish diplomatic expertise on China left such decisions to the perceptions of people like Franco. He seemingly never forgot the representation of the Guomindang during the 1930’s and early 1940’s as subservient to the Communists, and he even asserted the desirability of Communist revolutions in these countries, going as far as confessing a kind of admiration both for Mao Zedong and for Ho Chi Minh.

The period following 1945 was the low point of Spanish interest for the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.  Exacerbating the longstanding lack of interest, there were now no more private groups in the Philippines pushing for contacts with Asia. Furthermore, once the wartime propaganda value of relations with Asia began to disappear after about 1943, Asia only received scant attention, and always for motivations related to wider affairs, such as the battle against Communism or the possibility of Christianization.

The 1898 Bumper Effect

The behavior of Spanish society and diplomacy after the defeat to the United States shows that the colonial departure from Asia after 1898 was not as painful as one might expect, and might even be considered liberating. The forced departure was in some sense a blessing, the military defeat acting as an excuse for a de facto decision taken long before (though against the wishes of the Catalan industrialists). The Foreign Ministry’s contempt for the Boxer uprising coincided with the lack of interest on the part of the Ministry of Commerce in promoting trade – a striking contrast to the interests shown by both the Italian administration and the Japanese, whose foreign minister invited the Spanish minister in Tokyo for the first time in years to ask favorable tariffs for Japanese toothbrushes.[xx] In 1925, for example, the booklet published after the Treaty of Commerce between Spain and Siam in 1925 concluded its introduction by asserting plainly that “mutual trade is nil,” an exaggeration suggesting that the negotiation of the treaty was little more than bureaucratic routine. Official statistics in fact recorded some quantities and products that should have been noted by a document signed with the aim of further developing trade. Moreover, Spain had occasionally purchased important quantities of Thai rice at Port-Said, another fact which trade officials might be expected to have known. Besides this, Spanish statistics show significant divergences from those compiled by Asian countries, and the intermediate role of Hong Kong, Singapore, or Port Said is only one cause of this discrepancy. The administrative lack of interest towards Asia was another hindrance for contacts with Asia. Comments by diplomats ranking Spain in an intermediate position between the big powers and the secondary ones in Asia, more than wishful thinking, appear as convenient lies to justify to themselves and their superiors the absence of relations.

In addition to nineteenth-century legacies, there were new factors that parried the decline of Spanish presence in Asia. The most important was the role of the Spanish community in the Philippines. With the money available, especially among the prosperous of Manila society, the Spanish community created associations and funded a wide range of Hispanist activities, such as establishing the Hospital de Santiago for the city’s needy, erecting luxurious Spanish Casinos in the main three cities (Manila, Cebu and Ilo Ilo), and organizing social activities related to Spanish culture and inviting prominent personalities, such as best-selling author Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. Besides these direct efforts at promoting Spain in the Philippines, the money sent annually from the Philippines (company profits, payment of rents, etc.) offset Spain’s trade deficit with the Philippines mainly the result of purchases of raw Philippine tobacco. The contributions of the Spanish community even covered some of the expenses of the Spanish government, such as rent for the consulate and the sending in 1927 to Shanghai of a destroyer, Sánchez Barcáiztegui, to protect Spanish nationals. Able to press the Spanish government to defend its interests and even to make Spain to perceive Asia through their lenses, private interests in the Philippines (chiefly the Church, businesses, and oligarchic families) became the prime movers of Spanish-Philippine relations. The Spanish government showed signs of following their example, opening a program, for example, to invite prominent scholars and literates to the Pacific archipelago. Unfortunately, poet Gerardo Diego and chemist Julio Palacios were the first and the last of them in 1935.

Spanish behaviour during the Manchurian incident of the 1930s is indicative of the main characteristics of Spanish Diplomacy in Asia. (1) Interest in the events was indirect. Madariaga himself claimed that he was more interested in the “Tokyo-Geneva” conflict that in the “Tokyo-Beijing” conflict, for the Japanese invasion was the first important violation of the security system devised at Versailles after the end of the First World War. Asia was a springboard towards Europe. In the same vein, there were some late comments on the losses for trade with Japan due to the behaviour in Geneva, but they do not seem to be important in the decision making process in Spain, although certainly the Japanese created a new embassy at Lisbon. (2) The officials in the site were the crucial actors. In similar fashion to the governors in Manila and ambassadors in Asia in the nineteenth century, Salvador de Madariaga could perform in the League of Nations mostly according to his will, with little intrusion form his superiors, who in fact would have preferred more moderate behaviour. (3) The possibility of war was always maintained as a diplomatic instrument. Madariaga offered the British Ambassador a Spanish warship in the very improbable case that London declared war on Tokyo. It can be a significant fact because Spain was prepared to declare war in Asia for three times this century: at this juncture, in 1932; in 1945 against Japan and, finally, in the early 1950s, when Madrid planned to declare war on the Korean Communists even though Spain was not a member of the United Nations. The twentieth century was a new period in which Spain inherited old problems but also faced new challenges in Asia.

Policy toward Asia in Democratic Spain (1975-2005)

Since the end of General Franco’s regime in 1975, democracy has triggered important changes in Spanish foreign policy, both in aims and in the concept of foreign policy itself. Together with an increasing presence in the world both through bilateral relations and through international organizations, the decision making process has become decentralized and diversified. The Autonomous Communities and state administrative bodies other than the Foreign Ministry have become participants in foreign affairs. Moreover, Spanish firms have become increasingly international. Asia has gained an increasing importance in the world, both because of its unparalleled economic growth in this period and because Japan (mainly in the 1980s) and later China are most frequently cited as the biggest threats to American hegemony.

After joining the European Community in 1986, Spain has participated in developing the Asian strategy of the European Union that has initiated a new ways to increase, stabilize, and deepen mutual contacts, such as the ASEM (Asia Europe Meeting) process and the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF). In the economic sphere, Spain has developed a number of initiatives to profit from the Asian economic growth. There have been numerous conventions and expositions to sell Spanish products throughout the major Asian cities. Furthermore, initiatives form different ministries, Autonomous Communities, and chambers of commerce have opened offices, mostly in Japan and China, while countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, and East Timor have received significant development assistance. Many initiatives show a clear impulse toward recovering the ground lost during the twentieth century. Furthermore, President Felipe Gonzalez (1982-1996) showed a personal admiration for Asia, frequently invoking Chinese proverbs and being a devoted aficionado of Japanese bonsais.

The results, however, remain to be seen. There has been no significant political dialogue with any Asian country and personal interest rarely has dragged Spain into Asia beyond anecdote. The Spanish government has never been ready to spend money on Asia, contribute to European initiatives, and indeed declined to organize the 2002 ASEM Summit. In the economic sphere, Asia is the source of the largest part of Spain’s trade deficit, accounting for one-third even though it merely accounts for less than 10% of total exchanges.[xxi] Cultural events related to Asia have proliferated, but these still belong to the realm of the exotic, and images remain anchored in the colonial period. Spaniards appear ready to recognize Asia’s economic might but not the political implications of this rise.

Only the most recent data allows us to foresee that the efforts are finally rendering results. The first comprehensive plan to draw Spain close to Asia was presented in 2000, mostly out of pragmatism rather than genuine interest in the region. The idea focused on economic targets, but provided no budget for achieving those targets and showed scarcely a marginal interest on culture. The Plan-Marco Asia-Pacífico showed the many contradictions of a country wishing to sell products but lacking expertise in Asian affairs. At the presentation, the guest speaker was a typical Orientalist, himself having written a book on “Orient and Occident”, fond of referring to religions and past inventions of Chinese but forecasting the future with ideas taken from Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and praising a Japanese system that “works wonderfully”. The only new institution, the Casa Asia, was created in Barcelona, with activities ranging from the fields of economics to the arts and teaching, in an attempt to coordinate Spanish efforts in Asia and provide expertise. Since then, Casa Asia has rapidly developed into the hub for Spanish society in relation to Asia. Ministries, Companies, Universities, and Municipalities call upon it to help them approach the region. Furthermore, the Casa Asia played a crucial role in drafting a new plan by the Socialist government in 2005, since for the first time there was money devoted to it, coordination between the different administrative bodies, clear ideas about targets and even about the ways to attain them. Beyond the initiatives, creative ways have been found to solve the historical lack of presence in Asia. One such approach is known as triangulación, or trying to reinforce at the same time the links between Spain, Latin America, and Asia, and generate synergies in different ways. The role of the administration may diminish, but it appears that Spain is again building some kind of interest in Asia. Spain’s history of disregard for Asia may be coming to an end. The many lost opportunities over the past centuries will never, however, be recovered. 


[i] Henry Kamen, Spain’s Road to Empire: The Making of a World Power 1492-1763 (London: Allen Lane, 2002), pp. 291-292.


[ii] Benito J. Legarda, Jr., After the Galleons: Foreign Trade, Economic Change and Entrepreneurship in the Nineteenth-Century Philippines (Madison, WI: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 1999), p. 95.


[iii] Josep M. Fradera, Filipinas, la colonia más peculiar. La hacienda pública en la definición de la política colonial, 1762-1868 (Madrid: CSIC, 1999), p. 292.


[iv] Francisco Gainza, La Campaña de Cochinchina, Manila (1859; reprint, Málaga: Algazara, 1997), p. 64.


[v] Josep M. Fradera, Colonias para después de un imperio (Barcelona: Bellaterra, 2005), pp. 536-537.


[vi] Legarda, p. 138.


[vii] Agustín Sánchez Andrés, “El desarrollo de un modelo presupuestario particular dentro de la Administración central del Estado: la dinámica presupuestaria del Ministerio de Ultramar y los presupuestos de Filipinas y las Antillas (1863-1898),” Revista Española del Pacífico, 7: 11-29 (1997), pp. 23-24; and Inés Roldán de Montaud, “La Hacienda Pública en Filipinas de 1800 a 1898,” in eds. María Dolores Elizalde, Josep M. Fradera, and Luis Alonso, Imperios y Naciones en el Pacífico, Vol. 1 (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), pp. 495-539.


[viii] Yoshiko Nakano, “‘Intra-Asian Trade’ at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” in eds. Florentino Rodao and Felice Noelle Rdriguez, The Philippine Revolution of 1896: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2001), pp. 253-276


[ix] Florentino Rodao, “Conflictos con Estados Unidos en Ponapé: preludio para 1898,” in ed. Rodao, Estudios sobre Filipinas y las islas del Pacífico (Madrid: Asociación Española de Estudios del Pacífico, 1989), pp. 103-111.


[x] Agustín Rodríguez González, “El peligro amarillo en el Pacífico español 1880-1898,”, in ed. Rodao, España en el Pacífico (Madrid: Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, 1989), pp. 201-225.


[xi] Florentino Rodao, Españoles en Siam (1540-1939). Una contribución al estudio de la presencia hispana en Asia Oriental (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1997), pp. 118-120; and Franciso de Reynoso, En la corte de Mikado. Bocetos japoneses (1904; reprint, Murcia: Nausicaä, 2006), p. 180.


[xii] The author thanks Robert Bickers of the Chinese Maritime Customs Project, University of Bristol, for his help on this matter.


[xiii] Rodao, 1997, p. 140.


[xiv] Minister of State to Consul in Shanghai, Madrid, Oct. 4, 1900, Archivo del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, H-2368.


[xv] Zhang Kai Historia de las Relaciones Sino-Españolas, trans. Sun Jiakun and Huang Caizhen: (Beijing: Elephant Press, 2003), pp. 216-218.


[xvi] José E. Borao, España y China, 1927-1967 (Taipei: Central Book Publishing company, 1994), pp. 185, 189-191.


[xvii] Florentino Rodao, “Japón y Extremo Oriente en el marco de las Relaciones hispano-norteamericanas, 1945-1953,” Revista Española del Pacífico, 5: 5 (1995), pp. 233-241.


[xviii] Fernando Morán, Una política exterior para España (Barcelona: Planeta, 1980)


[xix] Vicente Pilapil, “The Far East,” in ed. James W. Cortada, Spain in the Twentieth-century World. Essays on Spanish Diplomacy, 1898-1978 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), pp. 213-234.


[xx] Santiago Méndez de Vigo, Spanish Minister in Tokyo, to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 12, 1934, Archivo General de la Administración, Asuntos Exteriores, Leg. 579.


[xxi] Jacinto Soler Matutes, “Relaciones económicas entre España y Asia: balances y perspectivas,” in Anuario Asia-Pacífico 2004 (Barcelona: Casa Asia-CIDOB-Real Instituto Elcano, 2005), pp. 331-339.



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