2017-07-15 17:02:49 UTC
Could Russia have plausibly set up a protectorate in Korea during the 19th century, or at least gotten to lease a naval base or two on the Korean coast (Busan & Wonsan perhaps)?
In what times and circumstances would it be most plausible? How could it be accomplished by Russia?
Would a Russian base in Korea make Port Arthur much less relevant strategically after Korean bases are set up?
Thinking on this, I think that yes, if the Russians try to move into Korea before the Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese will be angry at them. If the Russians try *after* the Sino-Japanese (as they did) but somewhat more quickly, aggressively and effectively than OTL, China will actually like it, seeing it as offering a Russian shield against Japan.
Since the Chinese contested Russian probes and got them to back off in Turkestan during the Ili crisis (1877-1881), I think they would contest, perhaps successfully, Russian assertions in Korea up to that time. However, China is probably powerless to contest any Russian moves once it is at war with France in the 1880s. Naturally the Japanese will hate it and fight the move by hook or crook if they can.