/tin"tsin"/; Chin. /tyen"jin"/, n.
Older Spelling. Tianjin.

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Chinese (Wade-Giles)  T'ien-ching,  or  (Pinyin)  Tianjin,  
      city and province-level shih (municipality), located to the east of Hopeh Province, at the northeastern extremity of the North China Plain. After Shanghai and Peking, it is the third largest municipality of China and, after Shanghai, the second most important manufacturing centre. It is the leading port of North China.

      Central Tientsin (the municipality's urban core) lies about 60 miles (96 kilometres) southeast of central Peking and about 35 miles inland from the Po Hai (Po Gulf), a shallow inlet of the Yellow Sea. Tientsin Municipality, like Peking and Shanghai, is under direct control of the State Council and covers an area of about 4,365 square miles (11,305 square kilometres).

      Tientsin (meaning literally Heavenly Ford) has been an important transport and trading centre since the Yüan (Mongol) dynasty (1206–1368). It was famous as a cosmopolitan centre long before the arrival of the European trading community in the 19th century. Its maritime orientation and its role as the commercial gateway to Peking fostered the growth of an ethnically diverse and commercially innovative population. The city is noted for its woven handicraft products, terra-cotta figurines, hand-painted woodblock prints, and extensive seafood cuisine.

Physical and human geography
The landscape
The city site
      Central Tientsin is located where the Tzu-ya and Hsin-k'ai rivers and the north and south sections of the Grand Canal (Pei Yün-ho and Nan Yün-ho, respectively) meet before merging into the Hai Ho (Hai River system) (Hai River), which then flows eastward to the Po Hai. The city stands at an elevation less than 15 feet (five metres) above sea level on a flat alluvial plain. Some low-lying areas east of the city are only about six feet above sea level, and the majority of the built-up area is below 12 feet.

      The municipality borders on the Po Hai to the east, Peking Municipality to the northwest, and Hopeh Province to the north, west, and south. Between 1955 and 1967 Tientsin was a subprovince-level city, which served as the capital of Hopeh Province. Its jurisdiction extended over the built-up urban core and eastward along the Hai Ho to include the port at T'ang-ku. At that time, Tientsin city was administratively separate from the Tientsin Special District, which had its seat at Yang-liu-ch'ing, southwest of central Tientsin.

      In 1967 Tientsin Municipality was made a first-order, province-level administrative unit, and the area under its immediate control was expanded to include counties (hsien) formerly under the special district. The city simultaneously became the special district seat but lost its position as provincial capital. In the early 1980s Tientsin Municipality was composed of 13 urban and suburban districts (ch'u) and five rural counties. The municipality was under direct jurisdiction of the central government in Peking.

      Despite Tientsin's proximity to the sea, it has a distinctly continental climate with sharp daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations. It is subject to the full effects of the cool, dry Siberian high-pressure system during the winter (October to April), while in the summer (May to September), the high pressure system over the North Pacific Ocean brings hot and rainy weather. Winter precipitation is minimal, and the air is dry, with relative humidity averaging 50 percent. In summer, moist, rain-bearing southerly winds prevail, and the average relative humidity exceeds 70 percent. The average annual temperature is 56° F (13° C), with a January average of 39° F (4° C) and a July average of 84° F (29° C). Severe winter storms are common, but typhoons seldom occur.

      The Hai Ho was long subject to frequent flooding. As the main outlet for the rivers of the North China Plain, it frequently became heavily silted during the spring and summer months; during the winter season its water level was often too low for navigation. Extensive water conservation began in 1897. The river was straightened to facilitate tidal action and to shorten the distance to the sea. Locks were constructed to regulate the flow of water from the river into its many canals, the river and the sand bars at its mouth were dredged, and silt-laden water was diverted into settling basins.

      Since 1949 multipurpose flood-control, irrigation, and navigation improvements have been made. Construction of the Kuang-ting Reservoir on the Yung-ting Ho near Peking has helped alleviate flood damage within metropolitan Tientsin. New diversion channels have also been built to control the floodwaters of the Ta-ch'ing and Tzu-ya rivers to the southwest.

Plant and animal life
      The marshy lakes and floodplains around Tientsin abound with numerous varieties of reeds, bulrushes, and shrubs, such as tamarisk. Closer to the seashore, Russian thistle, glasswort, and artemisia can be found. Freshwater fish (including silver and golden carp) are raised in ponds and marshy depressions.

The city layout
      The urban core of Tientsin extends for about seven miles from east to west and about nine miles from north to south. Ho-p'ing, the central district, is located on the west bank of the Hai Ho, just below the large bend of the Hai Ho. It is the main commercial and financial centre, and its two main streets of Ho-p'ing Lu (Ho-p'ing Road) and Chieh-fang Lu have several large department stores, restaurants, and hotels.

      The old “Chinese” city is situated immediately to the northwest of Ho-p'ing Lu. It is bounded by the four wide boulevards of Tung, Hsi, Pei, and Nan Ma-lu that follow the course of the old rectangular wall. The street pattern in the old city is winding and irregular, in contrast to the more regular gridded pattern in the foreign-developed zones to the south and west. The old city is subdivided into four smaller sections, each of which in traditional times had special marketing and commercial functions.

      North and west of the old city and continuing across the Nan Yün-ho is the mixed residential and industrial Hung-ch'iao District. It extends to the confluence of the Tzu-ya Ho, Pei Yün-ho, and Hai Ho. The northern outskirts contain workers' housing developments, and the area is best known for its domestic handicrafts.

      The southern and western neighbourhoods of Hsin-hua and Ho-hsi and the Nan-k'ai District were built on what (until it was drained) was marshy, low-lying land. Hsin-hua, at the bend of the Hai Ho well south of the central district, is the main trading, shipping, and administrative area. It has extensive shipping facilities and is the site of the customs office, the central post office, the harbour bureau, and the central police headquarters. Residential sections have been built in the southern part of this neighbourhood. Ho-hsi neighbourhood and Nan-k'ai District in the west and southwest are given primarily to residential and recreational use, and Nan-k'ai is also a major university centre.

      The eastern districts of Ho-pei and Ho-tung, east of the Hai Ho, centre on industry and transport. Ho-pei has a few technical and vocational educational institutions in addition to its residential quarters, while Ho-tung is mainly industrial.

Housing and architecture
      The provision of housing for Tientsin's work force has been a major concern of the municipal authorities. The emphasis since 1949 has been on suburban development, although residential areas in the urban core have also been rehabilitated. Major new residential and commercial construction was undertaken in the early 1980s in central Tientsin as a result of damage incurred in the T'angshan earthquake of 1976. Before World War II many of the suburban residential areas were built on marshy, poorly drained land subject to flooding, and sanitary conditions were especially bad. Most of the modern complexes have been constructed near industrial zones on the outskirts of the city.

      Many of the large commercial and administrative buildings in the central city were built by foreign concessionaires. They are typical of European and Japanese colonial architecture of the 1920s and 1930s, with buildings of contrasting architectural styles juxtaposed helter-skelter, without any plan. Some of the public buildings dating from the 1950s were built in imitation of the Soviet monolithic style, and housing complexes are usually standard multistory rectangular blocks. More recent commercial and residential construction follows modern design, with individual balconies and multicoloured facades.

The people
      The majority of the population lives in the central city, where densities are probably in the range of 15,000 to 75,000 persons per square mile (6,000 to 29,000 persons per square kilometre).

      Before 1949 most people were engaged in commercial or service occupations. Since then the occupational structure of the city has changed, and about half the population is employed by industry and only about one-fifth in commerce. The remainder are employed primarily in public services.

      Ethnic minorities compose a small proportion of the population; the largest groups are Tungans, Koreans, Manchus, and Uighurs. Most of them live in the central city in areas that have special historical associations. The largest single community of Tungans is in the northern suburb of T'ien-mu-ts'un.

The economy
      Since 1949 heavy industry has been developed and the existing industrial base consolidated for greater productivity. Major activities are the production of heavy machinery, chemicals, and iron and steel and shipbuilding and repair. The Tientsin Heavy Machine-building plant is one of China's largest manufacturers of mining equipment. Other products include machinery for textile mills and agriculture, machine tools, electrical equipment, bicycles, tractors, elevators, precision instruments, trucks, and watches.

      The chemical complex at Ta-ku, T'ang-ku, and also at Han-ku (north of T'ang-ku on the rail line to T'ang-shan) produces agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and petrochemical products, plastics, artificial fibres, dyestuffs, and paints. The Yung-li alkali products plant at T'ang-ku accounts for much of China's total output of purified soda, some of which is exported to Japan.

      Textiles are the chief light industry. Other such products include processed foods, hides, rubber goods, and paper. Tientsin's industry is largely under the jurisdiction of the municipality and is subject to local price setting, planning, and raw-material allocation.

      Financial services include branches of the Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, and The People's Insurance Company of China. Retail and wholesale trade is managed by commerce bureaus that are responsible to municipal and provincial authorities. Pricing and personnel matters are managed locally, while the distribution of commodities, long-range planning, and high-level financial management are handled by provincial-level bureaus responsible to Peking. A municipality-run General Trade Corporation formed in the early 1980s helps coordinate and improve the efficiency of domestic and foreign trade by assuming functions previously performed by central government agencies.

      Tientsin is North China's leading transport centre. The Ching-p'u railway runs south from Tientsin to Shanghai via Chi-nan, Shantung Province, and Süchow, Kiangsu Province. The Ching-shan railway runs north from Peking through Tientsin and Shan-hai-kuan on the Hopeh–Liaoning border to Shenyang, Liaoning Province. The lines are served in Tientsin by three railway stations, classification yards, and extensive maintenance and repair facilities.

      Heavily traversed inland waterways radiate to the south and southwest along the Grand Canal and Tzu-ya and Ta-ch'ing rivers; they connect the city with Pao-ting, Ts'ang-chou, and Heng-shui in southern Hopeh Province. The Ching-T'ang Kung-lu highway from Peking through Tientsin to T'ang-ku is the main all-weather freight road to the sea. Other main roads extend southward along the Ching-p'u railway into Shantung Province, westward to Shansi Province, and northward to Ch'in-huang-tao, northeastern Hopeh, and the Northeast (formerly Manchuria).

      Intraurban and suburban transport is extensive. Several dozen intraurban trolley, electric-trolleybus, and motor bus routes connect the city's railway stations and serve the near suburban districts. The first 7.5 miles (12 kilometres) of Central Tientsin's subway line was in operation by mid-1983. In addition, about two dozen long-distance motor bus routes connect the urban core with more distant rural areas.

      Tientsin is the main collection point and transshipment centre in North China for goods manufactured for export and is the chief port of entry for heavy machinery and other capital-intensive imports. Much of China's total foreign trade by value is handled through Tientsin's outport and fishing port of T'ang-ku.

Administrative and social conditions
      The Tientsin People's Congress is the city's chief administrative body. It's predecessor, the Municipal Revolutionary Committee, was established in 1967 during the political disruption of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–69). Prior to 1967 responsibility for the management of the city's affairs was shared by a number of bureaus under both party and governmental control.

      The Tientsin Municipal Planning Commission plays a key role in managing industry and commerce. It controls the supply and distribution of industrial raw materials, sets production levels, allocates funds for capital investments, determines manpower needs, supervises product research and development, and coordinates transportation, public works, and environmental policy.

Public utilities
      Major public works projects since 1949 have helped alleviate chronic flood damage and have improved the city's water supply and sewage disposal systems. Marshy, low-lying lands have been drained and converted to agricultural and recreational use, new roads have been constructed, and streetlights have been installed.

      The supply of fresh water has always been a problem because of the city's location near the sea at low elevation. Severe water shortages developed in the early 1980s because of industrialization, population growth, and drought that cut off the water supply from Miyun Reservoir northeast of Peking. These shortages were temporarily alleviated by diverting water from the Huang Ho, to the south, but construction was also undertaken to divert water from the Luan Ho, to the northeast. The project began in late 1981, and its initial stage was completed in late 1983. Swampy lowlands to the southwest have been drained; one of the most extensive was converted into the large recreational area of the Shui-shang Kung-yüan (Park on the Water).

      Electricity is generated by thermal power plants (fuelled with coal), and the city is connected by a power grid with Peking and T'ang-shan, Hopeh.

      Tientsin has many Western-style and Chinese hospitals, with separate facilities for children, workers, and members of ethnic minorities. After the Cultural Revolution,Tientsin also developed one of China's earliest and most effective urban planned birth programs. In 1973 an Office of Planned Births was established by the municipality and was granted status and authority equal to the Department of Public Health.

      Before the Cultural Revolution about one-sixth of Tientsin's population was enrolled in educational institutions. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, enrollments fell. By the late 1970s, to support China's modernization program, considerable investments had been made to improve and expand scientific and technical institutions, especially those supportive of petrochemical, iron and steel, and marine services and engineering industries. The general universities of Nan-k'ai and Tientsin are located in Nan-k'ai District, on the southwestern periphery of the city. Other higher educational institutions include the Polytechnic Institute, the Central Conservatory of art and music, a medical school, and a teacher training school. Work-study schools attached to factories supplement formal educational programs.

Cultural life
      The city has several museums and a major library. The Fine Arts Museum is noted for its collection of Yüan, Ming, and Ch'ing dynasty paintings, while the City Museum of History and the Tientsin Science Hall have more contemporary displays. The Tientsin Library is the municipality's largest library.

      Special exhibits are held at the Industrial Exhibition Hall and the National Minorities' Cultural Palace, and the People's Festival Hall is used for operas, plays, and concerts. The largest movie house is the Peace Cinema. There is also an astronomical observatory.

      There are several dozen parks and recreation centres. Victory Park and the Children's Park are in the centre of the city, and the Hsi-ku, Nan-k'ai, People's, Chien-shan, Shui-shang, and Pei-ning parks are in the urbanized area. Recreational clubs have also been built for industrial workers, and there are four stadiums.

Evolution of the city
      The marshy, poorly drained area surrounding contemporary Tientsin was sparsely populated until the Sung dynasty (960–1126), when the settlement of San Ch'a K'ou was built on the west bank of the Hai Ho. The original settlement was later joined by the larger town of Chih-ku, built on high ground at the confluence of the Tzu-ya and Hai rivers. Chih-ku grew rapidly as a port and commercial centre, and it became the chief storage, transfer, and distribution point for grain and other foodstuffs from central and southern China.

      In recognition of the importance of Chih-ku (then called Hai-chin) as a shipping centre, the Yüan (Mongol) government (1206–1368) established offices for the regulation of navigation and customs and expanded the town's warehouse and harbour facilities. The city also became a major salt producer when salterns were constructed along the Hai Ho.

      The development of modern Tientsin began during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), when the national capital was shifted from Nanking to Peking. In 1368 the settlement became a garrison town and was named T'ien-chin-wei (Defense of the Heavenly Ford). A large military base was built and a rectangular wall constructed in 1425. The town prospered as it became the main gateway to Peking, and its population was swelled by immigrants from Shantung, Kiangsu, and Fukien provinces.

      By the beginning of the Ch'ing (Manchu (Ch'ing Dynasty)) dynasty (1644–1911/12), Tientsin had become the leading economic centre of North China because of its location at the northern terminus of the Grand Canal (Ta Yün-ho). As better inland waterway connections were established, there was a steady increase in the city's volume of trade. Members of the first Dutch diplomatic mission to China in the mid-17th century commented favourably on the well-constructed 25-foot- (7.6-metre-) high wall surrounding the city and noted the many temples and the large commercial and marketing area.

      Economic prosperity declined temporarily during the mid-19th century when the European nations trading with China unremittingly pressed their demands for commercial and diplomatic privileges. The treaties of Tientsin, during the second Opium War (Opium Wars) (1856–60) against China, were signed by the British, French, and Chinese in 1858. They authorized, among other provisions, the establishment of British and French concessions in Tientsin. Between 1895 and 1902, concessions were given to Japan, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Belgium. Hostilities were resumed in Tientsin in 1860, and the city was shelled by the British and French; the Convention of Peking then declared Tientsin an open trading port. Ten years later, a violent expression of Chinese antiforeign feeling erupted in the city when the French Catholic orphanage and cathedral were attacked. In 1900, renewed antiforeign demonstrations led to the shelling and occupation of the city by Allied (Western) forces and the destruction of the old city wall.

      By the end of the 19th century, Tientsin had grown to more than 200,000 people, with about half the population residing within the old “Chinese” city. Living conditions for the Chinese were in sharp contrast to those in the spacious, well-tended European quarters that were distributed to the southeast and along the riverbanks.

      Tientsin became an important ocean shipping centre by 1900. The Huang Ho shifted its course, and the Grand Canal became silted up in the early 1850s, thereby restricting inland waterway traffic through the city, and shipping operations were shifted eastward along the banks of the Hai Ho. Facilities were also built at Ta-ku and T'ang-ku at the mouth of the Hai Ho.

The 20th century
      Under the Republic of China (1911–49), Tientsin became a special municipality (shih) under the direct administration of the National government. In 1935 the Japanese attempted to extend their control over North China by establishing an autonomous area in eastern Hopeh Province, which was to be administered by Japanese military authorities in Tientsin. A year later, they presented demands to the Chinese authorities that were designed to weaken Chinese control over the area. With the onset of the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45), the Japanese occupied Tientsin, and in 1939 they blockaded the British and French concessions in response to anti-Japanese demonstrations.

      During the Communist Revolution (1945–49), Tientsin remained under Nationalist control until mid-January 1949, when the city was captured by the Communists. Since then, Tientsin's growth as a trading and manufacturing centre has been responsive to internal development needs. Despite its proximity to Peking, the city retains a distinctive character, attributable to its functional and utilitarian origins.

Additional Reading
Kenneth G. Lieberthal, Revolution and Tradition in Tientsin, 1949–52 (1980), examines interrelations among economic development, administrative organization, and mass mobilization strategies during the early years of Communist control. Katherine Ch'u Lyle, “Report from China, Planned Birth in Tianjin,” China Quarterly, 85:551–67 (1980), documents family planning programs in the late 1970s.Baruch Boxer

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Universalium. 2010.

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