Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

A bit of China that is forever Austro-Hungarian

Posted by Andy Hockley on 8 March, 2008

This morning (well, it was before lunch, but probably not technically morning), we went to an exhibition at the castle here in town of stereographic photos from the late 19th early 20th century (you know those 3d pictures that you have to look at through glasses one lens of which is red and one green). Anyway, some of the pictures were pretty fun, and in some cases the depth from the 3d effect worked really well (one of the Alhambra in Granada and one of the Danube in Budapest stood out – hoho). There were a couple from Transylvania – one or two in Brasov and a few in Cluj, but the others were from all over the place. Anyway, one really caught my eye, not because it was a particularly great shot, but because it purported to show the “Austro Hungarian Colony at Tien Shin, China”. “Hold on”, I thought to myself, and subsequently said to Erika, “there was an Austro Hungarian colony in China?”

On my return home I spent some time looking this up. This was tricky because the way the name of the Chinese town had been rendered was unhelpful, and because there is no wikipedia article on this colony (imagine! something that doesn’t have a wikipedia entry). Some concentrated searching however, led me to conclude that the town’s name is more often rendered as Tianjin, and that there was, in fact, a small bit (less than 1km²) of that city which was (for 16 short years) ruled from Vienna. Weird huh? This was all part of the fallout from supression of the Boxer Rebellion, apparently, in which 8 powers helped out, and all ended up with a bit of Tianjin to call their own. You can read about it here.

I’m now intrigued to imagine this city with it’s small corner of Habsburgian architecture which that article assures me is there.

Anyway, just thought I’d share.

One Response to “A bit of China that is forever Austro-Hungarian”

  1. Gadjo Dilo said

    Indeed, a fascinating historical anomaly; (though the photo further down the article you reference showing the Japanese soldier about to behead a native Chinaman, indicates that, as usual with imperialism, “fascinating” may not have been a term much used by the native inhabitants.)

    Incidentally, there was also an Austro-Hungarian bit of the Arctic Ocean; but it’s name, ”Franz Josef Land”, is rather a give-away, so you probably already know about it!

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