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Italian concession of Tientsin

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Title: Italian concession of Tientsin  
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Italian concession of Tientsin

The Italian World War I monument and the Piazza Regina Elena in the Italian Concession of Tientsin (ca. 1935)

The Italian concession of Tientsin (Chinese: 意式风情区; pinyin: Yì Shì Fēngqíng Qū) was a small territory (concession) in Tianjin, China, officially controlled by the Kingdom of Italy between 1901 and 1947.


Italian postage stamp for Tientsin

On 7 September 1901, Italy was granted a concession of 46 Has in Tientsin from the Chinese government. On 7 June 1902, the Italians took control of the concession, which was to be administered by an Italian consul.

After World War I Italy desired to add the former Austro-Hungarian concession which was adjacent to the Italian concession, and would have doubled its size. However, in 1917 China terminated the leases of Germany and Austria-Hungary concessions. The districts were converted into "Special Areas" under China control, with a separate administration from the rest of Tientsin.

But Italy requested the Austrian concession after WWI: it was obtained only in June 1928 and soon returned to Chinese authorities,[1] when the Second Special Area (the one of former Austrian concession) was in danger of war and occupation during the China civil war.

The Italian concession became the headquarters of the Italian Legione Redenta that had fought in 1919 against Soviet troops in Siberia and Manchuria. In 1935, the Italian concession had a population of about 6,261, including 110 Italian civilians and about 536 foreigners. [2]

The Italian Royal Navy stationed some vessels at Tientsin, like the river gunboats "Carlotto" and "Caboto".[3]


A map of the foreign concessions in Tientsin in 1912 showing the Italian concession. The adjacent Austro-Hungarian concession was added to the Italian after World War I.
Map of the Italian concession.

During the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, the Beijing Legation Quarter became the center of an international incident as it was besieged by Boxers for several months. After the siege had been broken by the Eight-Nation Alliance (that included Italy) at the end of the Battle of Peking, the foreign powers obtained the right to station troops to protect their legations under the terms of the Boxer Protocol. In addition, Italy obtained a concession in Tientsin, southeast of Peking.

On 7 September 1901, a concession in Tientsin was ceded to the Kingdom of Italy by the Qing Dynasty of China. On 7 June 1902, the concession was taken into Italian possession and administered by an Italian consul: the first was Cesare Poma and the last (in 1943) was Ferruccio Stefenelli.

Along with other foreign concessions, the Italian concession lay on the Pei Ho, southeast of the city centre.

In the late 1920s, the Italians even held small forts like the Forte di Shan Hai Kuan near the Great Wall of China in Manchuria[4] and in Hankow.

In 1925, Benito Mussolini created the Battaglione italiano in Cina and quartered it with soldiers of the San Marco Regiment in the new Caserma Ermanno Carlotto.[5] By 1935, the Italian concession had a population of about 6,261, including 110 Italian civilians and about 536 foreigners. The police were Chinese, while the officers were Italians. The Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy) stationed some vessels at Tientsin. There was even a football team in the Italian concession.[6]

During World War II, the Italian concession in Tientsin had a garrison of approximately 600 Italian troops on the side of the Axis powers. On 10 September 1943, when Italy signed an armistice with the Allies, the concession was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army.

Later in 1943, the Republic of China, or most other nations. The Wang Jingwei government fell when the Empire of Japan was defeated. At the same time, the Italian commercial concessions in the Shanghai International Settlement, Hankou and Beijing were ceded to the Republic of China.

On 2 June 1946, the Kingdom of Italy became the Italian Republic and, on 10 February 1947, by virtue of the peace treaty with Italy, the Italian concession was formally ceded by Italy to Chiang Kai-shek's Republic of China.

See also


  1. ^ "Italian occupation of former Austrian Concession". Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Grasselli, Enrico. "L’esercito italiano in Francia e in Oriente" p. 370-371
  3. ^ "Guido Samarani: "The Italian presence in China", p. 54". Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Trentoincina. "Italian Fort near the "China Great wall" (in Italian)". Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Caserma Carlotto photo
  6. ^ Trentoincina. "Football team". Retrieved 23 November 2014. 


  • Cucchi, G. Una bandiera italiana in Cina in «Rivista Militare», n. 6/1986
  • De Courten, L. - Sargeri, G. Le Regie truppe in Estremo Oriente, 1900-1901. Roma, 2005
  • Dikötter, Frank The Age of Openness China before Mao University of Chicago Press [1]. Berkeley, 2008 ISBN 9780520258815
  • Grasselli, Enrico. L’esercito italiano in Francia e in Oriente Corbaccio ed. Milano, 1934
  • Maurizio Marinelli, Giovanni Andornino, Italy’s Encounter with Modern China: Imperial dreams, strategic ambitions, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
  • Maurizio Marinelli, “The Triumph of the Uncanny: Italians and Italian Architecture in Tianjin”, In Cultural Studies Review, Vol. 19, 2, 2013, 70-98.
  • Maurizio Marinelli, “The Genesis of the Italian Concession in Tianjin: A Combination of Wishful Thinking and Realpolitik”. Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 15 (4), 2010: 536-556.
  • Mautone, Antonio. Trentini ed Italiani contro l'Armata Rossa. La storia del corpo di spedizione in Estremo Oriente e dei Battaglioni Neri. Temi editrice. Trento, 2003

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