Tianjin history - The Treaty of Tianjin

Updated: 21 Jan 2011
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Read more on Treaty of Tianjin   Treaty of Tien-tsin  
Several documents referred as "Treaty of Tien-tsin" (天津条约) were signed in Tianjin (Tientsin) in June 1858, ending the first part of the Second Opium War (1856-1860). Second French Empire, United Kingdom, Russian Empire and the United States were the parties involved. These treaties opened more Chinese ports (see Treaty of Nanking) to the foreigners, permitted foreign legations in the Chinese capital Beijing, allow Christian missionary activity, and legalized the import of opium.

They were ratified by the Emperor of China in the Convention of Peking in 1860, after the end of the war.
1. Dates

Qing Dynasty first signed the treaty with Russian Empire on 13 June 1858, next with the United States of America on 18 June 1858, and then United Kingdom on 26 June 1859 and finally Second French Empire on 27 June 1859.

These treaties were not titled the Treaty of Tientsin at the time of signing. But historically they are referred as the Treaty of Tientsin.

2. Terms

- Major Points

1.Britain, France, Russia and the United States would have the right to station legations in Beijing (Peking, a closed city at the time)
2.Eleven more Chinese ports would be opened for foreign trade, including Niuzhuang (Newchwang), Danshui (Taiwan), Hankou and Nanjing
3.The right of foreign vessels including warships to navigate freely on the Yangtze River
4.The right of foreigners to travel in the internal regions of China for the purpose of travel, trade or missionary activities
5.China was to pay an indemnity to Britain and France in 2 million taels of silver respectively, and compensation to British merchants in 2 million taels of silver.
6.Official letters and other documents exchanged between China and Britain are to be banned from referring to British Officials and Subjects of the Crown by the character "夷" or "yi" (barbarian).

3. Definitions

The Treaties of Tientsin uses several words that have somewhat ambiguous meanings. For example the words "settlement" and "concession" can often be confused. The term "settlement" refers to a parcel of land leased to a foreign power and is composed of both foreign and national peoples; locally elected foreigners govern them. The term "concession" refers to a long-term lease of land to a foreign power where the foreign nation has complete control of the land; it is governed by consular representation.

4. American Involvement

Following the pattern set by the great powers of Europe, the United States took on a protectionist stance, built up its navy, and tried to create a mercantile empire. The United States was one of the leading signing "treaty powers" in China, forcing open a total of 23 foreign concessions from the Chinese government. While it is often noted that the United States did not control any settlements in China, they did however share British land grants and were actually invited to take land in Shanghai, but refused because the land was thought to be disadvantageous.
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