First Sino-Japanese War

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Chinese warship Dingyuan

Following the Meiji Restoration (also known as the Meiji Ishin) in 1868, Japan embarked on a road of militarism and in 1894 invaded Korea and China. After Chinese troops suffered a crushing defeat at Asan in Korea, the war threatened to spread into Chinese territory, and the Chinese military commander Li Hongzhang had no choice but to send more troops.

Admiral Ding Ruchang led a fleet to escort the reinforcements to Korea but encountered a Japanese fleet on the Yalu River while returning to China. A fierce battle broke out. Admiral Ding was seriously injured in the early stages of the encounter and the Chinese fleet fell into disorder and ran out of ammunition. At this point Deng Shichang, captain of the cruiser Chih Yuen, took command of the fleet and ordered the Chinese forces to ram the enemy ships. Despite his bravery, the Chinese were badly defeated, losing 5 of their 10 warships. Deng was killed along with 200 of his crew when the Chih Yuen was torpedoed.