The Tientsin Accord or Li–Fournier Convention, concluded on 11 May 1884, was intended to settle an undeclared war between France and China over the sovereignty of Tonkin (northern Vietnam). The convention, negotiated by Li Hongzhang for China and capitaine de vaisseau François-Ernest Fournier for France, provided for a Chinese troop withdrawal from Tonkin in return for a comprehensive treaty that would settle details of trade and commerce between France and China and provide for the demarcation of its disputed border with Vietnam.
Chinese opposition to French efforts to clamp a protectorate on Tonkin led to the outbreak of an undeclared war between France and China towards the end of 1883. Chinese troops fought alongside Liu Yung-fu's Black Flag Army during the Sơn Tây Campaign (December 1883). Although Admiral Courbet's capture of Son Tay paved the way for the eventual French conquest of Tonkin, the French now had to deal with open opposition from China as well as the Black Flag Army. Having exhausted diplomatic efforts to persuade the Chinese to withdraw their armies from Tonkin, the French government sanctioned an attack by General Charles Millot on the fortress of Bac Ninh, occupied since the autumn of 1882 by China's Guangxi Army. In March 1884, in the Bắc Ninh Campaign, Millot routed the Guangxi Army and captured Bắc Ninh.
The Chinese defeat at Bac Ninh, coming close on the heels of the fall of Sơn Tây, strengthened the hand of the moderate element in the Chinese government and temporarily discredited the extremist 'Purist' party led by Zhang Zhidong, which was agitating for a full-scale war against France. Further French successes in the spring of 1884, including the Capture of Hưng Hóa and Thái Nguyên, convinced the Empress Dowager Cixi that China should come to terms, and an accord was reached between France and China in May. The negotiations took place in Tianjin (Tientsin). Li Hongzhang, the leader of the Chinese moderates, represented China; and Captain François-Ernest Fournier, commander of the French cruiser Volta, represented France. The Tientsin Accord, concluded on 11 May 1884, provided for a Chinese troop withdrawal from Tonkin in return for a comprehensive treaty that would settle details of trade and commerce between France and China and provide for the demarcation of its disputed border with Vietnam.
The original French text of the accord, in five articles, is given below.
Art. 1. La France s’engage à respecter et à protéger contre toute agression d’une nation quelconque, et en toutes circonstances, les frontières méridionales de la Chine, limitrophes du Tonkin.
Art 2. Le Céleste Empire, rassuré par les garanties formelles de bon voisinage qui lui sont données par la France, quant à l’intégrité et à la sécurité des frontières méridionales de la Chine, s’engage : 1° à retirer immédiatement, sur ses frontières les garnisons chinoises du Tonkin ; 2° à respecter dans le présent et dans l’avenir, les traités directement intervenus ou à intervenir entre la France et la Cour de Hué.
Art. 3. En reconnaissance de l'attitude conciliante du Gouvernement du Céleste Empire, et pour rendre hommage à la sagesse patriotique de Son Excellence Li-Hong-Chang, négociateur de cette convention, la France renonce à demander une indemnité à la Chine. En retour, la Chine s'engage à admettre, sur toute l’étendue de ses frontières méridionales limitrophes du Tonkin, le libre trafic des marchandises entre l’Annam et la France d’une part, et la Chine de l'autre, réglé par un traité de commerce et de tarifs à intervenir, dans l’esprit le plus conciliant, de la part des négociateurs chinois, et dans des conditions aussi avantageuses que possible pour le commerce français.
Art. 4. Le Gouvernement français s'engage à n'employer aucune expression de nature à porter atteinte au prestige du Céleste Empire, dans la rédaction du traité définitif qu’il va contracter avec l’Annam et qui abrogera les traités antérieurs relatifs au Tonkin.
Art. 5. Dès que la présente Convention aura été signée, les deux Gouvernements nommeront leurs Plénipotentiaires, qui se réuniront, dans un délai de trois mois, pour élaborer un traité définitif sur les bases fixées par les articles précédents.
Conformément aux usages diplomatiques, le texte français fera foi.
Fait à Tien-Tsin, le 11 mai 1884, le dix-septième jour de la quatrième lune de la dixième année du Kouang-Sin, en quatre expéditions (deux en langue française et deux en langue chinoise), sur lesquelles les Plénipotentiaires respectifs ont signé et apposé le sceau de leurs armes.
Chacun des Plénipotentiaires a gardé un exemplaire de chaque texte.
Signé : Ll-HONG-TCHANG. Signé : FOURNIER.
Eastman's English translation, modified slightly where it departs too far from the original French, is given below.
Article I: France undertakes to respect and protect against aggression by any nation whatsoever, under any circumstances, the southern frontiers of China bordering on Tonkin.
Article II: The Celestial Empire, reassured by the formal guarantees of good-neighbourliness accorded to her by France as to the integrity and safety of the southern frontiers of China, undertakes: (1) to withdraw immediately to her borders the Chinese garrisons in Tonkin; and (2) to respect, now and in the future, the treaties directly concluded, or to be concluded, between France and the Court of Hue.
Article III: In recognition of the conciliatory attitude of the Government of the Celestial Empire, and as a tribute to the patriotic wisdom of His Excellency Li Hung-chang, the negotiator of this convention, France renounces her demand for an indemnity from China. In return, China undertakes to permit, over the whole extent of her southern frontiers bordering on Tonkin, free traffic in goods between Annam and France on the one part and China on the other, to be regulated by a commercial and customs treaty, which shall be drawn up in the most conciliatory spirit on the part of the Chinese negotiators and under the most advantageous conditions possible for French commerce.
Article IV: The French government engages not to employ any expression which might demean the prestige of the Celestial Empire in the drafting of the definitive treaty which it will shortly contract with Annam, which will abrogate existing treaties respecting Tonkin.
Article V: As soon as the present convention has been signed, the two governments shall name their plenipotentiaries, who shall meet in three months' time to work out the details of a definitive treaty on the bases established by the preceding articles.
In accordance with diplomatic usage, the French text shall be binding.
Done at Tientsin on 11 May 1884, the seventeenth day of the fourth month of the tenth year of Kwang-hsu, in four impressions (two in French and two in Chinese), which the respective plenipotentiaries have signed and impressed with their official seals.
Each of the plenipotentiaries has retained one copy of each text.
Signed: Li Hung-chang. Signed: Fournier.
On 6 June 1884, pursuant to Article IV of the Tientsin Accord, the French concluded a fresh Treaty of Huế with the Vietnamese, which provided for a French protectorate over both Annam and Tonkin and allowed the French to station troops in both territories and to install residents in the main towns. The signature of the treaty, which replaced the punitive Harmand Treaty of August 1883, was accompanied by an important symbolic gesture. The seal presented by the emperor of China several decades earlier to the Vietnamese king Gia Long was melted down in the presence of the French and Vietnamese plenipotentiaries, betokening the renunciation by Vietnam of its traditional links with China.
In theory, the conclusion of the Tientsin Accord should have resolved the confrontation over Tonkin between France and China. Fournier was not a professional diplomat, however, and the agreement contained several loose ends. Crucially, it failed to explicitly state a deadline for the Chinese troop withdrawal from Tonkin. The French asserted that the troop withdrawal was to take place immediately, while the Chinese argued that the withdrawal was contingent upon the conclusion of the comprehensive treaty. In fact, the Chinese stance was an ex post facto rationalisation, designed to justify their unwillingness or inability to put the terms of the accord into effect.[ citation needed ] The accord was extremely unpopular in China, and provoked an immediate backlash. The war party called for Li Hongzhang's impeachment, and his political opponents intrigued to have orders sent to the Chinese troops in Tonkin to hold their positions.
The intransigence of the Chinese hardliners resulted in a bloody clash between French and Chinese troops near Bac Le on 23 June 1884, which plunged both countries into a fresh crisis. China's refusal to pay an indemnity for the Bắc Lệ ambush led directly to the outbreak of the Sino-French War on 23 August 1884.
The Sino-French War, also known as the Tonkin War and Tonquin War, was a limited conflict fought from August 1884 through April 1885. There was no declaration of war. Militarily it was a stalemate. The Chinese armies performed better than in other nineteenth-century wars and the war ended with French retreat on land. However, one consequence was that France supplanted China's control of Tonkin. The war strengthened the dominance of Empress Dowager Cixi over the Chinese government, but brought down the government of Prime Minister Jules Ferry in Paris. Both sides were satisfied with the Treaty of Tientsin. According to Lloyd Eastman, "neither nation reaped diplomatic gains."
The Black Flag Army was a splinter remnant of a bandit group recruited largely from soldiers of ethnic Zhuang background, who crossed the border in 1865 from Guangxi, China into northern Vietnam, then during the Nguyen dynasty. Although brigands, they were known mainly for their fights against the invading French forces, who were then moving into Tonkin. With the sanction of both Vietnamese and Chinese authorities, the Black Flags joined the Vietnamese regular forces, stemming French encroachment beyond the Red River Delta. The Black Flag Army is so named because of the preference of its commander, Liu Yongfu, for using black command flags. The army was officially disbanded in 1885 as a result of the Treaty of Tientsin between the French and the Qing. However, remnants of the army continued to wage a guerilla war against French colonial authorities for years.
Jules Patenôtre des Noyers was a French diplomat.
The Treaty of Huế, concluded on 25 August 1883 between France and Vietnam, recognised a French protectorate over Annam and Tonkin. Dictated to the Vietnamese by the French administrator François-Jules Harmand in the wake of the French military seizure of the Thuận An forts, the treaty is often known as the 'Harmand Treaty'. Considered overly harsh in French diplomatic circles, the treaty was never ratified in France, and was replaced on 6 June 1884 with the slightly milder 'Patenôtre Treaty' or 'Treaty of Protectorate', which formed the basis for French rule in Vietnam for the next seven decades.
The Treaty of Huế or Protectorate Treaty was concluded on 6 June 1884 between France and Annam (Vietnam). It restated the main tenets of the punitive Harmand Treaty of 25 August 1883, but softened some of the harsher provisions of this treaty. The treaty, which formed the basis for the protectorates of Annam and Tonkin, and for French colonial rule in Vietnam during the next seven decades, was negotiated by Jules Patenôtre, France's minister to China, and is often known as the Patenôtre Treaty. The treaty was signed on the Vietnamese side by Phạm Thận Duật and Tôn Thất Phan, representatives of the emperor Tự Đức’s court. It is known in Vietnamese as Hòa ước Giáp Thân 1884, or Hòa ước Patenotre.
The Battle of Gia Cuc, fought on 27 and 28 March 1883, was a battle in the Tonkin Campaign between the French and Vietnamese, during the period of undeclared hostilities that preceded the Sino-French War.
The Battle of Cầu Giấy or Paper Bridge, fought on 19 May 1883, was one of the numerous clashes during the Tonkin Campaign (1883–86) between the French and the Black Flags. A small French force under the command of capitaine de vaisseau Henri Rivière attacked a strong Black Flag defensive position near the village of Cầu Giấy a few miles to the west of Hanoi, known to the French as Paper Bridge. After initial successes, the French were eventually enveloped on both wings, and were only with difficulty able to regroup and fall back to Hanoi. Rivière and several other senior officers were killed in the action.
The Sơn Tây campaign was a campaign fought by the French to capture the strategically important city of Sơn Tây in Tonkin from Liu Yongfu's Black Flag Army and allied contingents of Vietnamese and Chinese troops. The campaign was one of several clashes between the Tonkin Expeditionary Corps and the Black Flag Army during the Tonkin campaign (1883–1886), and took place during the period of undeclared hostilities that preceded the Sino-French War.
The Tonkin Expeditionary Corps was an important French military command based in northern Vietnam (Tonkin) from June 1883 to April 1886. The expeditionary corps fought the Tonkin Campaign (1883–86) taking part in campaigns against the Black Flag Army and the Chinese Yunnan and Guangxi Armies during the Sino-French War and the period of undeclared hostilities that preceded it, and in important operations against Vietnamese guerrilla bands during the subsequent 'Pacification of Tonkin'.
The Bắc Lệ ambush was a clash during the Tonkin Campaign in June 1884 between Chinese troops of the Guangxi Army and a French column sent to occupy Lạng Sơn and other towns near the Chinese border. The French claimed that their troops had been ambushed by the Chinese. The incident led to the Sino-French War.
The Bắc Ninh Campaign was one of a series of clashes between French and Chinese forces in northern Vietnam during the Tonkin campaign (1883–86). The campaign, fought during the period of undeclared hostilities that preceded the Sino-French War, resulted in the French capture of Bắc Ninh and the complete defeat of China's Guangxi Army.
The Fujian Fleet founded in 1678 as the Fujian Marine Fleet was one of China's four regional fleets during the closing decades of the nineteenth century. The fleet was almost annihilated on 23 August 1884 by Admiral Amédée Courbet's Far East Squadron at the Battle of Fuzhou, the opening engagement of the Sino-French War.
François Oscar de Négrier was a French general of the Third Republic, winning fame in Algeria in the Sud-Oranais campaign (1881) and in Tonkin during the Sino-French War.
The Tonkin campaign was an armed conflict fought between June 1883 and April 1886 by the French against, variously, the Vietnamese, Liu Yongfu's Black Flag Army and the Chinese Guangxi and Yunnan armies to occupy Tonkin and entrench a French protectorate there. The campaign, complicated in August 1884 by the outbreak of the Sino-French War and in July 1885 by the Cần Vương nationalist uprising in Annam, which required the diversion of large numbers of French troops, was conducted by the Tonkin Expeditionary Corps, supported by the gunboats of the Tonkin Flotilla. The campaign officially ended in April 1886, when the expeditionary corps was reduced in size to a division of occupation, but Tonkin was not effectively pacified until 1896.
The Capture of Nam Định, a confrontation between the French and the Vietnamese, was one of the early engagements of the Tonkin Campaign (1883–86). In a brief campaign in the last week of March 1883, Commandant Henri Rivière captured the citadel of Nam Định, the second-largest city in Tonkin, with a flotilla of gunboats and a battalion of marine infantry.
The Pacification of Tonkin (1886–1896) was a slow and ultimately successful military and political campaign undertaken by the French Empire in the northern portion of Tonkin to re-establish order in the wake of the Tonkin campaign (1883 1886), to entrench a French protectorate in Tonkin, and to suppress Vietnamese anti-French uprising.
The Capture of Hưng Hóa was an important French victory in the Tonkin Campaign (1883–86).
Charles-Théodore Millot was a French general who distinguished himself in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and the Tonkin Campaign (1883–86). His victories at Bắc Ninh and Hưng Hóa brought to an end the two-year undeclared war in northern Vietnam between France and China, and paved the way for the conclusion of the Tientsin Accord between the two countries on 11 May 1884. Millot resigned as general-in-chief of the Tonkin Expeditionary Corps shortly after the outbreak of the Sino-French War on 23 August 1884 and returned to France.
The Tonkinese Rifles were a corps of Tonkinese light infantrymen raised in 1884 to support the operations of the Tonkin Expeditionary Corps. Led by French officers seconded from the marine infantry, Tonkinese riflemen fought in several engagements against the Chinese during the Sino-French War and took part in expeditions against Vietnamese insurgents during the subsequent French Pacification of Tonkin. The French also organized similar units of indigenous riflemen from Annam and Cambodia. All three categories of indigenous soldiers were known in Vietnam as Lính tập,
The Treaty of Tientsin, signed on June 9, 1885, officially ended the Sino-French War. The unequal treaty restated in greater detail the main provisions of the Tientsin Accord, signed between France and China on May 11, 1884. As Article 2 required China to recognize the French protectorate over Annam and Tonkin established by the Treaty of Hue in June 1884, which implicitly forced China to abandon its claims to suzerainty over Vietnam, the treaty formalized France's diplomatic victory in the Sino-French War.