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The Tianjin Report
History of Tianjin (天津)
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What today is Tianjin City was originally but a rural area of little signifance, accept for its good fishing and the transport of sea and land produce to the cities and towns of the well populated coastline. The City of Beijing did exist but did not have much importance as it only became the Capital of China many centuries later.
The area only gained particular importance during the Sui Dynasty (581 AD - 618 AD), when the various waterways of China were connected into the system of the Grand Canal, which at the time reached as far north as the Tianjin Regions and its rivers. Its auspicious location increased its importance as connection between the hinterland and the Grand Canal in the west and the open sea's to the east.

Although the Grand Canal gained enormously in importance during the later centuries, with the ever increasing demand of the city of Beijing (established as a city in the Northern Song Dynasty and recreated by both the Yuan Dynasty (1272 AD - 1368 AD)  and the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD)), transport of grain, commodities and tribute from the south via the open sea route remained important. As may be noted, during the Yuan Dynasty Era when Beijing was known as Dadu (also: Khanbalik i.e. city of the Khan) and functioned as the Imperial Capital of China, the Grand Canal was not fully operational. While the Grand Canal was being improved and rebuilt, the necessary grain transports sending rice from the rich and fertile Yangtze River in the south had to be diverted to the overseas route. During this era, the reign of Kublai Khan, Tianjin was an important city which gained name as a crucial grain storage point.
During most of the subsequent Ming Dynasty neighboring Beijing was once more the Imperial Capital and the Ming Imperial machine built further on the infra-structure and logistical support bases already well established in the Yuan Dynasty. During the Yongle Reign of the Ming Dynasty, the Grand Canal was finally extended through Tongzhou (now an outer suburb of Beijing) to the south-east corner watchtower ("Red Gate" or Dongnan Jialou) of the City of Beijing itself. At the same time, Tianjin became the major storage center and supply depot for the city, situated exactly between the north point of the Grand Canal and the sea, from where the grain and tribute ships from the south arrived. Due to its strategic importance, the city of Tianjin was fortified with a defensive city wall and on the coastline at Dagu (Tagu or also Tanggu) a Fortress, garrison and substantial naval base was established.
At the time, there was hardly any international trade. For a long period in the 16th century overseas trade with neighboring nations was entirely forbidden (although smuggling did occur). As a result the coastal area's were harrassed and regularly invaded by Japanese Pirates and those who had lost their livelyhood when overseas shipping was outlawed. Nevertheless, the overseas grain shipments had to continue to keep the city of Beijing fed and supplied. With its huge population which included the royal house and its 10 thousand eunuch servants as well as some 1000 court ladies, a large flock of Mandarins, Government administrators, Manchu Noble families, literati, soldiers and dancers, artists and other talents this was no easy feat.

Although the first western visitors reached China near the very end of the 16Th Century, Tianjin stayed devout of their influence for many years thereafter. With the first western contacts with China dominated
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China Report - Colonialism - Growth of Colonies & Japan after 1801 AD
A Map drawing of the Eurasian continent , parts of North-East Africa and the Middle East in the 19Th Century between 1801 AD and 1900 AD. Focal points are the expansion of western colonial posessions of Portugal, Britain and France, as well as  Russia moving from West to East. Labeled seperately is the later Rise of the Empire of Japan in the East.
Included in this Map are the main cities across the continent with their brief histories and events during the 19Th Century. Marked in Colors for clarity are the various colonial and imperialist Nations. As relating to China; special attention is payed to so called Treaty Ports. The First Treaty Ports were forced open by Britain in the year 1841 AD, but counted over 80 in total by the end of the 19Th Century. The most important Treaty Ports in China are marked and described with a short history where the map allows.
Map China and Far East Colonies after 1801 AD
Colonialism - 1912 World Map of Colonial Possessions & Trade Routes.
A Map drawing of the World depicting the Colonial Possessions as they were distributed in 1912 AD. Superimposed and marked in colors are subsequent changes in Influences Spheres, colonies and possessions due to World War I ( 1914 AD - 1918 AD).
Included in this Map are the main cities across the continents with their brief histories and events during the late 19Th Century and early 20Th century, where relevant. Marked in Colors for clarity are the various colonial and imperialist Nations. As relating to China; special attention is payed to so called Treaty Ports. The First Treaty Ports were forced open by Britain in the year 1841 AD, but counted over 80 in total by the end of the 19Th Century.
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After the establishment of an "International Quarter within the city of Tianjin, and the official signing of the "Treaty of Tianjin" in 1858 AD, the city got a heavy make-over. Foreigners ruled the city, foreign companies established themselves and a Foreign Community created its very own residential neighborhood. Tianjin became the biggest financial center in north China, in the nation only second to Shanghai, the worlds largest port and trading center. Overtime, infrastructure was greatly developed and at the end of the 19Th century railroads were developed in China, with many in north China connecting with the all important industrial and financial center of Tianjin.

In the 20th century Tianjin, flourished an "International City" A world important Trading harbor and foreign enclave. A substantial German District with concording distinct European styled architecture remains from this era, although in the huge metropolis of today,
It was not until the reign of Qianlong Emperor (Reign: 1735 AD - 1796 AD) that the upcoming British with their world Empire started knocking on the door, demanding their rights of entry and (equal) trade (not tribute). Famously the Qianlong Emperor bluntly turned down the British request, after having an uncomfortable first meeting with the chosen British Emmissary in the year 1792 AD.
The Chinese had no need for what they saw as inferior products and wares and furthermore in general the Chinese would rather had been rid of these odd looking ruffians. The Chinese Court was only little aware of the dangers the Foreigners posed.
Not only was their religion seen as harmful and detrimental to social stability, it was duely noted that the British were different sort of westerners altogether. They did not come to preach, but demanded trade rights and even worse diplomatic equality which was a concept that was considered nearly alien inside the Qing Imperial Machine.

Underpinning their insistince, and confirming Chinese suspicions, the British Embassy arrived onboard a powerful warship, notably the 64 gun ship HMS Lion. Furthermore, the Embassy did not travel through the south first, but delivered itself right upon the Imperial Doorstep landing at the Tanggu Ports outside of Tianjin City. It was a clear cut case of what later would be dubbed "gun diplomacy", although at the time the Chinese side was certainly not about to let on to the fact that the message had been read and received.
As if this was not enough to antagonize the Chinese Court, unlike his various Jesuit Predecessors and even the Papal Emmisary, the Earl McArtney made it clear he would not cooperate with Court Protocol, especially the part of Kowtowing (bowing) to the Emperor and hs Throne.
The Brits were sent back home emtyhanded in 1794 AD, with the request to not hurry their return. However, mere hoping would not turn the British away indefinitely. In fact, the McArtney Embassy to Beijing turned
out to be merely a prelude of the woes that would befall the Chinese Qing Empire in the years to come.
It would go too far to discuss the entire development of Chinese contacts with western nations throughout the dawn of what would become the Colonial Era here, however the implications of the process would be great for the City of Tianjin as well as the entire nation.

In 1840 AD, the first "Opium War" between China and the British delivered Hong Kong Island as well as entry into Guangzhou (Canton) to the sparkling British Crown, leaving China utterly powerless to reply defend its rights. Although a humiliating "Peace" Treaty was signed, another war triggered in 1856 AD took the festering international conflict right up to the City of Tianjin. Already noted by International traders and warriors as the gateway to the Chinese Capital, the city was bombarded and invaded in 1856 AD forcing China to sign over many of its rights to the port and city of Tianjin to an alliance of western nations led by Britain. It was a shocking new beginning for the city.
While China lost out enormously, the Qing Court refused to give in to the ultimate British demand (now backed by other Foreign Powers ("Me too-ism") of opening "Legations", Foreign Embassies on the doorstep of the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) in Beijing.
While the foreigners were refused the desired access to and foothold in the Capital, they had to contend with their "international concession" in the adjoining port city of Tianjin instead. Thus, between 1856 AD - and the years 1900 to 1902 AD, Tianjin became the focus of foreign attention in China, much more so than almost any city along its lengthy coastline.
Where in the beginning Macau and Canton (Guangzhou) were the (very modest) points of connection, now Shanghai and a bit later Tianjin gained prominence over the others, although business and foreign presence was booming all over the (mainly coastal) provinces.
this section makes up but a small part of an otherwise modern and very Chinese city.
China Report - Maps - Rise of European Colonialism in Asia 17Th Century
A Map drawing of the Far East -China, Japan, Korea, Phillippines, Indo-China, Burma, India and Indonesia- in between 1600 AD and 1700 AD. Depicting the Rise of European Colonialism in Asia in the 17Th Century before the start of the Industrial Revolution. Clearly shown - Extensive Dutch trading posts and colonial Territory in South- and South-East Asia (Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Moluccas) with The Netherlands enjoying its "Golden Age" , - British Trading Posts in India and Ceylon, - French- and Portugese Trading Posts and Colonial Territories in India and the East-Indies Islands. Japan "discovered" by De Vries, Captain of the VOC "(United) East-Indies Trading Company" (Dutch) in 1643 AD. Not much later  Japan would close itself to western influences and only accept trade with the Dutch, who were allowed one small Trading Post in Nagasaki Harbor (Deshima).
Map China and Far East Colonies during 17Th Century
by the Portugese, who jealously kept out any of their early competitors, the "Middle Kingdom" (ZhongGuo = China) went about its own ways without much interference for well over a century more. The Portugese contacts were run exclusively through the minute island
settlement of Macau, and later through Guangzhou (Canton) in current day Guangdong Province, thus the "first" foreigners traveled through south China and were transported by ways of the Grand Canal to Beijing, never to bother with the nearby port of Tianjin. Throughout the Qing Dynasty Era (1644 AD - 1911 AD), the city of Beijing remained the Capital of China and thus the situation remained largely as before. The only Chinese frustration were the continued religious activities of Jesuit Missionaries who insisted upon converting Chinese subjects to a strange foreign faith which contradicted Chinese traditions in many fundamental ways. The Roman Catholic Church was the first western power to seek In-depth contacts with the Chinese and the Chinese Court, hoping to convert the Nation. Although their middle-men, the Jesuit Priests, brilliantly succeeded in establishing a thorough foothold at court, their presence remained ever contested. The Christian presence remained a fragile one during the first 100 years of these contacts, and by the time of the turn into the 17th century the reigning Kangxi Emperor was thoroughly frustrated by the official communications he received from Rome. Hence, in the years 1703-1705 AD the first Roman Catholic Papal Mission (De Tournon) to China was undertaken in order to resolve differences. Or so the Catholic Church of Rome thought. The Whole mission was bound to be a disaster due to the opposing and entrenched world views set to be colliding.
De Tournon was expelled from China, as were a large number of the Missionaries present within the Capital and the Chinese Provinces, thus ensuring another century of relative seclusion for those within the Empire.
Asia Report - Historic Map Asia + British Empire 1897 AD
A Map overview of the World in 1897 AD depicting the extenses of the British Empire in North America, Africa, the Mediteranean Sea and the Middle East, Asia and the Far East. British Power is at its highpoint. British Territory includes India, Burma, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikim and other strong-points scattered around. British Controls Hong Kong and has large influence in other Chinese Treaty Ports. Tibet and the bulk of China have come under pressure from Britain. In the next few years parts of Tibet will be annexed.
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This page was last updated on: May 31, 2017
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