World War II: China--Tianjin/Tientsin

World War II Tianjin Tientsin
Figure 1.--Here Chinese troops drill in Tientsin at a time of rising tensions after the Japananese seizure of Manchuria. This wire service photo was captioned, "Chinese troops, mostly young boys, on the march along the borders of the Japanese concession at Tientsin." It was dated February 26, 1932. After war broke out in 1937, much ounger boys woulf be recruited by the Chinese.

The main city in the Heibi city of northern China was Tianjin. It included both the city of Tianjin and the port of Tanggu. It was formerly called Tientsin. It is an industrial and commercial center, known for handmade silk and wool carpets. The Dagang oilfield is close by. Tianjin was opened to foreign trade in 1860 and foreign contries were awarded concessions there. Given its location in norther China, it was one of the first Chinese cities occupied by invading Japanese troops (July 30, 1937). The Japanese respected the foreign concessions for several years. This was interupted by the Tientsin Incident (April-August 1939). This could have resulted in an Anglo-Japanese naval war, except the British facing NAZI Germany moving toward war could not move the main battle fleet to the Pacific. The Japanese seized the foreign concessions until the outbreak of the Pacific War (December 1941). The Japanese after surrendering to the Allies (August 1945), withdrew from China and the city reverted to Chinese control.

The City

The main city in the Heibi province of northern China was Tianjin. It was formerly called Tientsin. The city is located at the junction of the Hai He River and the famed Grand Canal. It was the northern terminus of the Grand Canal which connected the Yellow River and Yangtze River. It is situated on the westerns coast of the Bohai Gulf, about 120 km southeast of Beijing. Thus it it is the principal port for Beihing. The originasl city was on the coast. Over time the silting and the drainage of marshes has noved the coast about 35 km from the center of the city. The port came to be caslled Tanggu. Tianjin developed as an industrial and commercial center, best known for handmade silk and wool carpets. The Dagang oilfield is close by.

Early History

Tianjin was first mentioned as a trading center and port under the Northern Song dynasty (960–1126 AD). Despite ins northerly locatioin exposed to barbarian raids, it was not walled until much lter (1404). The marshes along the coast were drained for agriculture suring the Qing dynasty (18th century). The Qing also constructed forts at Tanggu, near the mouth of the Hai He River in an effort to orotect the port.

Foreign Concessions (1860-1941)

The port defenses were not able to wth stad European naval artillery and well equipped armies. An Anglo-French force seized the port in the Second Opium War (1856–60). Tianjin was opened to foreign trade under terms of the Treaty of Nanking (1860). This is one of the treaties the Chinese refer to as the "Unequal Treaties". This resulted in the first foreigners settling in Tianjin. The Chinese eventually granted eight separate foreign settlements: Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Italy, and Germany. Charles "Chinese" Gordon was involved in setting up the British convession. China ceded a concession in Tientsin to Japan after te First Sino-Japanese War (1895). Each of the foreign concessins had their own administration and right of extra-territoriality. Rach developed its own destinctive styles of architecture based on styles in the home country. Mosdt of the importat banks were built in the British concession. The American novelist John Hersey, was born in Tianjinthe where his arents woirked as missionaries. It was as as a result of the European settlements that Tianjin began to become modern city. Nankai University was founded after World War I. The last emperor of China, Pu-Yi after beiung dethroned came to live in Tianjin, located as it was close to Masnchuria (1920s). The Qing were a Mnchurian dynasty. He would be the Japanese puppet ruler of Manchuria.

Boxer Rebellion (1900)

The Boxers briefly seized control of Tianjin. International troops commanded by British Lt. Gen. Alfred Gaselee recaptured Tianjin from the Boxer rebels at the Battle of Tientsin (July 13, 1900). The army then pushed on to capture Beijing and relieve the besieged foreign Legation Quarter. This article provides a more in-depth look at the Boxer Rebellion as well as its causes and aftermath. Herbert Hoover, future president of the Umited States, and his wife lived in Tianjin during the Boxer Rebellion. Another allied force seized the port again as part of the allied expedition landed to come to the relief of the foreign legations in Beijing during the Boxer Rebellion (1900). The Europeans landed here to begin the march inland.

Pu-Yi (1924)

Chaing Kai-shek increased pressure on Emperor Pu-Yi and surronded the city with an army commanded by Feng Yu-hsiang. Pu-Yi Fearing for his safety from the vasrious armed factions in the city, asked for asylum at the Japanese Embassy (1924). The Japanese granted asylum ad treated him cordially. The Japanese a few months lter moved him under their protection to their concession in Tientsin. At the time, Pu-Yi called it his "flight to freedom". Later he would describe it as "he entered the tiger's mouth". There the Jaoanese provide him and his entourage hospitality and protection. He resisted attempts by the Japanese to assist him in recovering his throne. Kuomintang (KMT) forces dynamited the Eastern Tombs of the Manchu rulers and lootied them (1928). TYhis horrified him. He presented protests to the KMT government to repair the tdamage. Finally he began to conspire for foreign assistaance to regain the Imperial Throne.

Manchuria (1931)

The Japanese Imperial Army (IJA) seized control of Manchuria. They set up the the puppet state of Manchuko using the last Manchu emperor--Pu Yi. Manchuria was part of China, but Chang Kai Shek who led the Kuomingtung (KMT) realizing that the Nationalist Army was not capable of dislodging the Japanese did not confroint them militarily.

Sino-Japanese Relations

Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated as aresult of the Japanese seizure of Manchuria. The Nationalist Army did not intervee with force, but anti-Japanese feeling spread throughout China. Students promoted a boycott of Japanese goods. The presence of a Japanese concession and the location close to Japanese-controlled Mabchuko meant tht tensions were high in Tianjin. Japanese Concession Police (JCP) arrested Chow Kui-chi, a 23-year old Chinese youth (February 9, 1932). He was staying at the Tientsin Hotel in the Japanese Concession. The JCP clained that confessed (presumaby under torture) ro be a member of the "Anti-Japanese Dare-to-die Corps" which was organized in Nanking (October 1931). He reportedly came to Tientsin to assasinate the Japanese Consul General and the Commanding Officer of the Japanese Troops in the city. He reportedly was found with two bombs and one Mauser. The JCO handed him over to the Public Safety Bureau of the Municipal Government.

Marco Polo Bridge Incident (March 1937)

The Japanese invasion of China proper, launching the Second Sino-Japanese, developed from a small border squirmish (July 1937). Some historians also date the beginning of World War II with the Japanese invasion. Fighting began with the Battle of Lugou Bridge, often referred to as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (July 7, 1937). The incident occurred during provactive Japanese military maneuvers. Precisely what occurred at the bridge is not know with any real certainty. There were casualties on both sides. It was enough for the Militarits to cast the invasion of China in terns necessary to avenge the Emperor's honor. The Japanese Kwantung Army turned this relatively small incident into a full-scale war between Japan and China. The Japanese Government, however, did not formally declare war.

Japanese Seize Tianjin (July 1937)

Given the city's location in norther China, it was one of the first Chinese cities occupied by invading Japanese troops (July 30, 1937). The Nationalists did not put up a major fight for the city, concerned that te Japanese could cut oiff and surround forced commoitted to defend the city. The Japanese respected the foreign concessions for several years.

Tientsin Incident (April-August 1939)

Relatively unevenful relations between the European concessiorares and the Japanese was interupted by the Tientsin Incident. Chinese nationalists assasinated the manager of the Japanese-owned Federal Reserve Bank of North China at Tienstsin's Grand Theatre (April 9, 1939). The Japanese authorities accused six Chinese living in the British concession of involvement. Events rapidly spiraled out of control. This could have resulted in an Anglo-Japanese naval war. The Japanese Army which had occupied Tientsin (except the foreign concessions) and most of northern China, blockaded the British and French settlements (June) escalating the incident into a major international issue. A wide range of issues complicated settlment, including Tientsin's role in the drug trade and Japan's frustration at its inability to successflly conclude the China Incident. The military searching for scaegoats blameed the Western powers, especially Britain. The British asd French hoped for American support which did not come. [Swann] The Japanese eventually demabded much more than the mere turning over of the suspects, but finally settled for this (August). The incident was finally resolved because the militarists in Japoan weere not yet in total control and the leadership was split. British for its part was facing NAZI Germany moving toward war could not move the main battle fleet to the Pacific.

Pacific War (1941-45)

The Japanese seized the foreign concessions until the outbreak of the Pacific War (December 1941). The Japanese after surrendering to the Allies (August 1945), withdrew from China and the city reverted to Chinese control.

Sources

Swann, Sebastian. Japan's Imperial Dilemma in China The Tientsin Incident, 1939-1940 (London Univ.: London, 1999).







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Created: 6:19 AM 3/20/2010
Last updated: 6:19 AM 3/20/2010