Treaties of Tianjin

Several documents titled "Treaty of Tien-tsin" (Traditional Chinese: 天津條約 Simplified Chinese: 天津条约, Pinyin: "Tiānjīn Tiáoyuē") were signed in Tianjin (Tientsin) in June 1858, ending the first part of the Second Opium War (1856-1860). France, UK, Russia, and the United States were the parties involved. These treaties opened eleven more Chinese ports (see Treaty of Nanking) to the foreigners, permitted foreign legations in Beijing, allow Christian missionary activity, and legalised the import of opium.

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


Major Points

# Britain, France, Russia and the United States would have the right to station legations in Beijing (a closed city at the time)
# Eleven more Chinese ports would be opened for foreign trade, including Niuzhuang, Danshui, Hankou and Nanjing
# The right of foreign vessels including warships to navigate freely on the Yangtze River
# The right of foreigners to travel in the internal regions of China for the purpose of travel, trade or missionary activities
# 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.
#Official letters and other documents exchanged between China and the UK are to be banned from referring to British Officials and Subjects of the Crown by the character "" or "yi" (barbarian). [ Treaty of Tianjin Text]


The Treaties of Tianjin 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. [William C Johnstone. "International Relations: The Status of Foreign Concessions and Settlements in the Treaty Port of China." American Political Science Review 31.5 (Oct. 1937): 942.]

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. [Ibid. 945]



Additional sources

*William C Johnstone. "International Relations: The Status of Foreign Concessions and Settlements in the Treaty Port of China." American Political Science Review 31.5 (Oct. 1937): 942-8.
*Bloch, Kurt. "The Basic Conflict Over Foreign Concessions in China." Far Eastern Survey 8.10 (May 1939): 111-6.
*Pictures of the "Treaty Temple" in Tianjin and Texts of the treaties, Wason Library, Cornell University []

ee also

* Unequal Treaties
* Imperialism in Asia
* 19th Century Protestant Missions in China
* William Bradford Reed

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