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Tianjin Massacre, 1870

J. Megan Greene

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Eastern Asia » China

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

Key-Topics foreign interventionism, nationalism, revolution, riots

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01459.x


In 1870 tensions between Chinese residents of the northeastern port city of Tianjin (Tientsin) and western missionaries came to a head in a spontaneous eruption of anti-western protest dubbed the Tianjin Massacre. Sixteen French men and women and three Russians, including the consul and ten nuns, were killed in a single day as a crowd of Chinese responded violently to the western presence. The event represented the largest single anti-western protest in China prior to the Boxer Uprising of 1900 , although smaller-scale anti-Christian protests were not infrequent. As a consequence of the unequal treaties that China was compelled to sign between 1842 and 1858, the western presence in coastal China, particularly in the environs of the so-called treaty ports such as Tianjin, grew rapidly. The treaties gave westerners unprecedented rights to travel freely in China, engage in commerce with comparatively little restraint, and be governed not by Chinese laws but by the laws of their home countries. Numerous Catholic and Protestant missionaries took advantage of the new access to China that they were granted by the treaties, building churches, recruiting converts, and setting up schools, hospitals, and orphanages both in the treaty ports and farther inland. In Tianjin the western presence was perhaps even more visible and more hated than elsewhere because the city had been the site of humiliating ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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