Pistol Diplomacy

Thus, traditional isolationist tendency of the Chinese and their distrust of the aliens were continually fueled during the XIX c. and eventually grew into a steady hatred. The infamous Tientsin massacre of 1870 offers a graphic example:

"A serious disturbance apparently having been nipped in the bud, Ch'ung-hou began to draft a proclamation to pacify the inhabitants of the city. Shortly after noon, however, he was suddenly informed that a brawl had begun at the Catholic church between some converts and a group of bystanders. Just as he was deputing soldiers to quell the riot, the French consul arrived at the yamen and Ch'ung-hou went out to greet him.

"Fontanier, accompanied by his chancellor, M.Simon, was armed with two pistols and in an ugly mood. Upon seeing Ch'ung, he began to use abusive language and, in an act of incredible folly, shot at the Chinese official, fortunately without hitting him. Fontanier was then seized by the onlooking attendants, and Ch'ung-hou, finding it inconvenient to wrangle with him further, withdrew for the moment into the yamen. The consul then entered, and, shouting furiously, started to make a shambles of the room's contents.

"When his fury had abated somewhat and he prepared to go, Ch'ung-hou advised him that since popular feeling was enraged and a mob of several thousand Chinese -- including members of the gentry and official classes -- had gathered in the streets outside, he had best not leave the yamen. The Frenchman, according to Ch'ung, replied that he was not afraid of the Chinese common people and angrily stalked out into the crowd.

"Outside Fontanier encountered the Tientsin magistrate, purportedly on his way back from having suppressed the disturbance at the church. The consul again fired his pistols, missing the magistrate, but fatally wounding one of his attendants.

"Whether the hideous atrocities which followed were pre-meditated, as the "immense majority" of contemporary foreigners seemed to feel, or not, they were now inevitable. Fontanier and Simon were ripped open on the spot. The crowd then plundered and set fire to the French consulate, the orphanage, the church, and other Catholic properties, and killed and savagely mutilated every Frenchman that could be found..."[11]

[11] P. Cohen. China and Christianity. Harvard Univ. Press, 1963, p.232-233