Treaty of Tientsin

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Treaty of Tientsin
Signing the Treaty of Tientsin.jpg
Signing of the treaty between Britain and China
Traditional Chinese 天津條約
Simplified Chinese 天津条约

Several documents known as the "Treaty of Tien-tsin" were signed in Tianjin (Tientsin) in June 1858, ending the first part of the Second Opium War (1856–1860). The Second French Empire, United Kingdom, Russian Empire, and the United States were the parties involved. These unequal treaties opened more Chinese ports (see Treaty of Nanjing) to the foreigners, permitted foreign legations in the Chinese capital Beijing, allowed 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.


The Xianfeng Emperor authorized negotiations for the treaty on May 29, 1858. The treaty with the British was signed less than a month later on June 25.[1]


Major points

  1. Great 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 Newchwang, Tamsui (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. Religious liberty to all Christians in China.
  6. China was to pay an indemnity to Britain and France in 2 million taels of silver respectively, and compensation to British merchants in 3 million taels of silver.
  7. 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 "" (), meaning "barbarian".


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.[2]

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 shared British land grants and were actually invited to take land in Shanghai but refused because the land was thought to be disadvantageous.[3]

See also


  1. Wang, Dong. China's Unequal Treaties: Narrating National History. Lexington Books, 2005, p. 16.
  2. Johnstone (1937), p. 942.
  3. Johnstone (1937), p. 945.


Additional sources

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External links