Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Tsêng Chi-tsê
TSÊNG Chi-tsê 曾紀澤 ( 劼剛), Dec. 7, 1839–1890, M ar. 12, diplomat, a native of Hsiang-hsiang, Hunan, was the elder son of Tsêng Kuo-fan [q. v.]. When about a year old he was taken to Peking where his father was in office, and so did not leave the capital for his ancestral home until 1853. Thereafter his father was chiefly occupied in the suppression of the Taiping Rebellion. Tsêng Chi-tsê occasionally visited his father's various headquarters, and sometimes accompanied him on tours of inspection, but did not take an active part in military campaigns. Though he made no effort to qualify for the official examinations, he nevertheless received a liberal education. He familiarized himself with the Classics, history, literature, music and archery, and achieved some skill in painting and calligraphy. At the same time he had some grasp of Western science and of the English language. One of his trusted European friends was Samuel Halliday Macartney (see under Kuo Sung-tao) who later accompanied him on his mission to Russia. When his father died, in 1872, Tsêng Chi-tsê inherited the hereditary rank of hou 侯 and therefore was given in the West the appellation Marquis. In 1878 he was appointed minister to England and France as successor to Kuo Sung-tao [q. v.]. He sailed from Shanghai on November 22, 1878; arrived in Paris on January 4, 1879; and presented his letters of credence six days later. He proceeded to London on February 4, and on March 20 presented his credentials at the Court of St. James.
During his seven years of diplomatic service in Europe the most outstanding achievement of Tsêng Chi-tsê was the conclusion with Russia, in February 1881, of the Treaty of St. Petersburg. Rebellious uprisings among the Mohammedan groups of Chinese Turkestan had already begun in 1862. By 1867 Yakoob Beg (see under Tso Tsung-t'ang) emerged as conqueror and as ruler over Kashgar and Yarkand. In 1867 Tso Tsung-t'ang [q. v.] was charged with the task of putting down these Mohammedan rebels. But the distance being great, and the means of transport limited, he had to proceed slowly. In the meantime Russia took advantage of the chaotic situation to move troops into Kuldja and occupy the territory of Ili (1871), giving aSsŭrances, however, to the Chinese government that the territory would be restored when China was in a position to maintain order in that area. Apparently Russian officials were then of the opinion that China would not be able to resume control. Nevertheless, Tso Tsung-t'ang slowly but surely pushed forward his military campaign. By 1878 the whole territory was pacified and Russia was informed that China was ready to resume the administration of Ili. Ch'ung-hou [q. v.] was appointed ambassador plenipotentiary to Russia, presenting his credentials at St. Petersburg in January 1879. As the Treaty of Livadis, negotiated by Ch'ung-hou, was regarded in China as a complete failure, and was received there with consternation, it was renounced by the Chinese government on February 19, 1880. On February 12 Tsêng Chi-tsê was appointed minister to Russia in the hope of being able to conclude a new treaty. Leaving London on July 14, he arrived at St. Petersburg on July 30 and presented his credentials at Tsarskoe Selo on August 22. As the people of both nations were indignant, and war seemed imminent, the negotiation of a new treaty was exceedingly difficult. A work, entitled 金軺籌筆 Chin-yao ch'ou-pi gives a full account of the conferences held from August 4, 1880 to February 23, 1881 between Tsêng Chi-tsê and Nicolas de Giers 格爾斯, Russian minister of foreign affairs; Baron de Jomini 熱梅尼, a member of the council of that ministry; and Eugene C. Butzow 布策, the Russian minister to China. This record, with an appendix containing the text of the Treaty St. Petersburg as annotated by Tsêng Chi-tsê, was printed in 1887. The Treaty of Livadia was finally annulled, and the Treaty of St. Petersburg was signed on February 24, 1881. By this new treaty China, gained a large strip of territory including the Tekkes Valley and the mountain passes between Ili and Kashgaria. Changes were made in regard to trade routes and customs, and additional Russian consulates were authorized in China. In return, China agreed to pay Russia, for the expense of occupation, nine million metallic roubles instead of the five million previously arranged. The treaty was generally regarded as a diplomatic triumph for China.
There was also the question of Annam. In 1874 a treaty of peace and alliance and a commercial treaty were signed between Annam and France, which amounted, in effect, to a transfer of Annam's allegiance from China to France. Annam continued, however, to send tribute to Peking. Early in 1880 Tsêng Chi-tsê was instructed by the Chinese government to inquire about the status of Annam. Repeated aSsŭrances had been given by France that she had no designs on Tongking but, with a. change of administration, the French policy altered. On August 25, 1883 another treaty was signed by which Annam accepted the status of a French protectorate. Though warfare broke out here and there between China and France (see under Liu Ming-ch'uan and Fêng Tzŭ-ts'ai), negotiations were intermittently carried on with China until a treaty was signed at Tientsin on June 9, 1885 by Li Hung-chang [q. v.] and Patenôtre (see under Tsêng Kuo-ch'üan). Meanwhile Tsêng Chi-tsê's term as minister to France ended in the spring of 1884. On July 18, 1885 he and Lord Salisbury signed at London an additional article to the Chefoo Convention (see under Li Hung-chang) concerning an increase of the tax levy on the importation of opium. In the same year Tsêng was recalled and Liu Jui-fên [q. v.] was made his successor. Tsêng was then ordered to assist in the newly-formed Board of Admiralty (see under I-huan) and, while waiting in London for his successor to arrive, began negotiations for the purchase of warships. As England was then taking steps toward the annexation of Burma, Tsêng was simultaneously charged with making overtures in this matter, though a convention was not concluded until later.
Before leaving London Tsêng Chi-tsê wrote an article which appeared in the January issue (1887) of the Asiatic Quarterly Review under the title "China, the Sleep and the Awakening". In it he described the existing state of China and forecast her future policies. He arrived at Shanghai on October 18, 1886, and reached Peking on December 11. Appointed to serve in the Tsungli Yamen, he was made junior vice-president of the Board of War, and later (1887) became a senior vice-president of the Board of Revenue. He also served (1885–90) on the Board of Admiralty.
In 1889 he was charged with the administration of the Yung-wên Kuan (see under Tung Hsün). His death at the age of fifty-two sui was a severe loss to China. He was granted full posthumous honors and was canonized as Hui-min 惠敏. Being progressive in his ideas, and liberal in his understanding and appreciation of things Western, he met with frequent opposition from his more conservative colleagues. Some of them even attributed his premature death to his reliance on Western medicine.
The complete works of Tsêng Chi-tsê, entitled Tsêng Hui-min kung ch'uan-chi (公全集) were first printed by the Kiangnan Arsenal (see Ting Jih-ch'ang) in 1893 and were reprinted lithographically at Shanghai in 1894. The material is distributed under the following titles: Tsêng Hui-min kung tsou-i (奏議), 6 chüan, comprising his memorials; Tsêng Hui-min kung wên-chi (文集), 5 chüan, consisting of his writings in prose; 歸樸齋詩鈔 Kuei-p'u chai shih-ch'ao, 4 chüan, his poems; and 使西日記 Shih Hsi jih-chi, 2 chüan, the diaries he kept during his terms as a diplomat in Europe.
[1/452/3b; 2/58/29b; 5/15/17b; 19 hsin-hsia 28b; Ch'ing-chi wai-chiao shih-liao (see under I-hsin); Boulger, D. C., The Life of Sir Halliday Macartney; Martin, W. A. P., A Cycle of Cathay; Cordier, Henri, Histoire des relations de la Chine avec les puissances occidentales; see bibl. under Tsêng Kuo-fan.]