By the end of the 19th Century Tientsin was probably the most important commercial city in North China. Long a head of navigation on the Grand Canal, Tientsin became the hub of a growing railway network that was expanding to connect distant parts of China. Tientsin was also a major international trading city with shipping connections to all parts of Asia. All was not peaceful during this time. Disorder was simmering under the surface and anti foreign feelings ran high as the The Qing Empire was disintegrating An anti-French riot turned violent in 18. Twenty one foreigners and several Chinese were killed.
China, with a 5,000 year history of culture and literature, was not as successful when it came to railroads and international shipping. Those were in the hands of foreign companies. And likewise, many factories were controlled by foreign interests. By treaty, imports were taxed at 5% only of their assessed value, a tax collected by a foreign administered customs service. Because of extraterritoriality, which had been granted by the Chinese after they had lost the 2 opium Wars (dates), most foreign residents were not subject to Chinese laws.
To protect its own interests and that of other foreign nations, American Marines, naval units and forces from other countries landed in 1894-95 ostensibly to protect the American Consulate in Tientsin and their Legation at Peking. These continued from November 5, 1898 until March 15, 1899. In late 1899 the Boxer Rebellion began in Shangtung Province and spread across North China. The Boxers, or ''The Righteous and Harmonious Fists,'' were a religious society. Originally they had rebelled against the imperial government in Shantung in 1898. They practiced an animistic magic of rituals and spells which they believed made them impervious to bullets and pain. The Boxers believed that the expulsion of foreign devils would magically renew Chinese society and begin a new golden age. Much of their discontent, however, was focused on the economic paucity of the 1890's. They were a passionate and confident group, full of contempt for authority and violent emotions. Foreigners, missionaries, businessmen and travelers as well as Chinese Christians and merchants doing business with foreigners were attacked and murdered.
Provincial officials defensive action in the Yangtze Valley and South China contained the worst disorders to North China. In June 1900 about 400 multinational marines and sailors were dispatched from ships off Taku to Peking Their goal: to protect the Legation Quarter. Other forces went ashore to garrison the foreign concessions in Tientsin. In spite of the guards stationed in Peking the German Minister was assassinated on June 2. After his murder rail and telegraph connections with Tientsin were severed and the legations besieged. These events focused international attention on the Taku-Tientsin-Peking axis. Allied forces were sent in to protect the isolated foreign concessions in Tientsin and additional land and naval forces arrived by sea. They attacked and destroyed the Chinese forts at Taku and fought their way to Tientsin. The enlarged international force then took the Chinese city. Finally this international force, also comprising Jewish serviceman fighting in the Russian Army, fought its way across the plains to Peking and relieved the foreign legations after a 55 day siege. The Jewish servicemen who fell in these battles were buried In Tientsin, but their place of final burial is unknown. The so-called Boxer Protocol that followed the hostilities allowed the permanent stationing of foreign forces in Peking, Tientsin, and at several other points to guard the lines of communication between the capital and the sea.
Between 1900 and 1907 Tientsin was administered by an international commission. Under this administration the city's walls were demolished and various public works projects completed. By the end of 1903, Russia, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Austria-Hungary, and Italy had formal concessions at Tientsin. The anti-foreign sentiment in China was understandable. China, with its 5,000 year history of extraordinary cultural achievements was subjected to humiliating conditions. Most of the railroads and international shipping were in the hands of foreign companies. Many of the factories were controlled by foreign interests World War Two began in China on July 7-8, 1937 with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident near Peking. A few rifle shots were heard near the Bridge in suburban Peking, while a company of Japanese troops were engaged in a field maneuver. Japan, in accordance with the peace treaty signed after the 1900 Boxers Uprising, stationed a garrison in North China, of which the rifle company was a part. When a Japanese colonel in Peking was refused the right to search for a missing Japanese soldier in Wanping more shots were fired. The squabbles between China and Japan over the Marco Polo Bridge led to an undeclared war. After the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. On July 29, Japanese air forces bombed and destroyed most of Nankai University to discourage anti-Japanese elements, the students.