During the 18Th and 19Th Century the small street gained much in importance when it became the central street of what would soon
Local Traffic at the intersection of Zheng Yi Road(=Lu), Minsheng Bank, and Former Legation Street.
A view down Zheng Yi Road, Canal Street, today a lush park-like lane.
Ornamental Detail of the European Styled Minsheng Bank building on the corner of Zheng Yi Road and East Legation Street.
Schematic Map of the 1900 AD Legation Quarter and its defenses - Includes location of former Legations and other Legation Quarter Monuments.
History of Foreign Legations Street of Beijing
Dongjiaomin Lane, or later (Foreign) Legations Street was originally called Dongjiang Mi Lane.
However, after the first Opium War of 1840 to 1842 AD, the name of the street was changed to Dongjiaomin Lane, diplomatic alley, as foreign envoys started taking up their stations at this strategically located spot inside the City Walls of the Imperial City and within reach of the Imperial Palace.
Not much later, after another round of Chinese humiliation in the foreign provoked Second Opium War of 1860 to 1862 AD, the
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grow as the Foreign Legations Quarter of Beijing. During this period, the Legations were a restricted part part of the City, where no Chinese were allowed to reside nor take up Business. Special Entrance needed to be gained at guarded gates into the Legations Quarter, as it was known.
Running from West to East, the former Legations Street it is crossed by several small south-north lanes. The main one of these is Zheng Yi Lu, or Zheng Yi Road, a street that at the time of the Legations was the Canal running south from the Imperial City to the so-called Water Gate of the Outer Wall of the Ming Dynasty.
A former Colonial building formerly belonging to the Yokohama Specie Bank stands on the corner of Zheng Yi Lu and East Legation Street.
Go explore Zheng Yi Lu and try to find the exact spot where the former bridge across the Canal was located.
One of Beijing's Central Cities' EMS Offices is located at the corner of Qianmen
Up North along Zheng Yi Lu's Northern Section are more Legations Remnants among which the Main Gate of the former Japanese Embassy. This gate leads into the highly secretive compound of the Beijing Public Security Bureau and is richly decorated in communist style as well as heavily guarded.
The entire compound is lined by a high wall with continous
Entrance to the former Yokohama Specie Bank at 4a Zhengyi Lu of the Legations Quarter.
A view to the East along Legations Street from the Bank and corner of Zheng Yi Lu.
foreign diplomatic corps began to build legations along DongJiaoMin Lane. Soon the new name adopted for the street would be Legations Street.
After the so-called Boxer War and the fall of the City to armies from no less than 8 foreign countries Foreign and Chinese high officials negotiated for 9
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months in the various Legations of Dongjiaomin Lane until the Qing government was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of 1901 on Sept. 7, 1901.
From the Zheng Yi Lu intersection continue West towards to find the Beijing Police Museum, the former Hong Kong Bank, the remaining walls of the former Dutch Legation and end at TiananMen Square.
Former French Post Office at East Legations Street
The Former French Post Office is located at number 19 and is currently in service as the popular local Sichuanese Restaurant JingYuan.
West of the Capital Hotel Main Tower and more particularly of its rear exit road stood the Kierulfs Store.The Kierulf's Store was a Danish Establishment of
Rue Marco Polo or "Customs Street" at the Beijing Legations
As mentioned above, the Rue Marco Polo at the time was also known as "Customs Street" after the Customs Office that stood North up this Street until 1900 AD.
Today the street is named TaiJiChang Dajie'.
Follow TaiJiChang Dajie' up North to head towards Wanfujing Street, the Main Shopping Bonanza of Beijing today (although Malls are everywhere in Beijing Nowadays).
Along the Route North one gets more views of the Buildings of the Former French Legation on the corner of former Rue Marco Polo.
Next is the not-much-advertized Central Party Office of the Beijing Communist Party of China Branch. It was refurbished in 2013 and looks brandnew today. As you may have expected by now here the Gate is once more Guarded and Photography is expressely forbidden. There is a guard on duty 24/7 so, there is little opportunity for snapshots.
Rue Hart , named after the honest broker in service of the Chinese State, is across.
Jardine Matheson Co. at the Beijing Legations
The site across and South of the Former French Legations was formerly location of the large Headquarters of the capitalist giant International British Firm Jardine Matheson & Co headed by D.G.M Bernard.
In the 19Th Century the Jardine Matheson Company was an opium trader and its founder, William Jardine, one of the driving forces behind the commercial opening of Hong Kong, Macau and later other so-called Treaty Ports. Its founder William Jardine was a no-nonsense no-remorse business type. Although the company soon withdrew from the Opium
St.Michaels - French Legation Cathlic Church
Next up on the West across the intersection with former Marco Polo Road, now the wide and spacious Taijichiang Jie, stands St.Michaels Church. This small but interesting Church was the former Church of the French Legation, and was at the time known as the Pehtang Cathedral. In early history, the location had been granted by the Kangxi Emperor (Reign: 1661 AD - 1722 AD) of the Qing Dynasty to the Jesuits who were the most helpful scientists and advisors at his court, and had been in the hand of the Jesuit Order for years. When the jesuits were disbanded on orders of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome the site remained the location of a christian church, akbeit under a new and different denomination of Christianity, an obscure point which may not have been fully appreciated by the Chinese side.
At the Times of the Legations, before but certainly after the Boxer War, the DongjiaoMin Catholic Church was part of the French Legation and also served as the Roman Catholic Church Headquarters in Beijing. Although Pere Favier, the French Roman Catholic Bishop of Peking asked the French Foreign Minister for guards to be sent to protect the Cathedral in events leading up to the Boxer War in Beijing, it was destroyed during the Boxer War and the battle for the Legation Quarter and the City of Beijing
However, as soon as the fighting seized and a new humiliating treaty was imposed on the now dying Qing Court and the Chinese Nation, plans for reconstruction of the all important and most symbolic building was discussed.
Thus, the Church as it stands today was reconstructed in the immediate aftermath of the 1900 AD crisis and ensuing war. (Read More in the 3 Page Article + photos!).
Trade because it became less profitable after legalization and its 2nd partner, Donald Matheson had severe moral objections, during the 20Th Century and the Time of the Legations its international operations had expanded into shipping, railways, manifacturing and property and real estate. Jardine Matheson had started with the smuggle and later trade on Hong Kong, but would expand to have offices in every major Treaty Port, its interest extending to well within the Chinese hinterland. The Old Section of Shanghai even has its own Keswick Road. The Road in Shanghai is named after William Keswick, the Chairman S.M.C. 1865/6 of Jardine Matheson and Co. Ltd.
Through its activities Jardine Matheson was one of the driving forces behind the opening up of China, and its later
Security Camera watching the Wall of the Former French Legation compound at Former East Legation Street.
A view West from St.Michaels Church corner. The Main Tower of the Capital looms high over East Legation Street in the background.
China Report - Historic Map - China (Qing) Empire in 1910 AD
An non-Chinese but western-made Map of the Ching Dynasty Chinese Empire in the year 1910 AD. In this Map of 1910 AD Ching Dynasty China is depicted as in its smallest boundaries and definition. Most notably Manchuria, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, all 3 huge territories nominally under Chinese Control and under Chinese Sovereignty
are depicted as separate area's. The Map includes locations of most so-called "Treaty Ports", the internationall opened Chinese Harbors under Foreign Control as well as the borders of the British-Indian Territories, Russian and Japanese Empire and the French Colony of Annam.
The Pastor of St.Michaels Church bidding goodbeyes to a Church Member at DongjiaoMin Alley.
The Wall surrounding the former Belgian Legation and the wooden signboard proclaiming the historic significance of this spot.
cultivation as a market and receiver of western produced goods and services.
The Company was an instrument of British Colonialism and nothing less.
The company is still internationally active and powerful today. Among things it has since long been the owner of Jardine Fleming Merchants Bank. Jardine Fleming is one of those old names that just keeps re-appearing, just like HSBC, the Hong Kong Bank of Today.
HSBC also had a branch in the Legations Quarter, however in the 1980's remnants of this building in the Legations were destroyed during construction of the Capital Hotel.
View of the North and Rear Gate of Zhijin Guesthouse, the former Belgian Legation.
The Wall and European Style features continue Eastward from Zhijin Guesthouse along East Legation Street in the direction of the Tongren Hospital.
The Route further down former East Legation Street leads to ChongwenMen Inner Street (Chongwenmen Nei Dajie'), which is the road leading north from the Former ChongwenMen Gate) - now a wide intersection, where just to the North the last remnant of the Legations Quarter can be found at DongDan Park.
That is, although Dongdan Park was created as part of the new architecture of Beijing in 1955 AD, parts of its grounds occupy the site which was previously, in the time of the Legations, the grounds of the former German Hospital in the Beijing Legations.
As a reminder of the early functions of this area today, the Beijing Hospital, of reputable name, stands due West of DongDan Park, whereas the TongRen Hospital stands South of it at the end of this street.
If you are staying in a hotel in the Legations, at least you will be assured of quick medical assistance if any such need arises.
A local citizen leaving the housing estates that lie along the North rim of eastern east Legations Street
(Dong JiaoMin Alley). This is the former location of the Italian Legation in Beijing, which was raised to the ground during the intense fighting of the summer of 1900 AD. Among things, the Chinese bombarded the Legation Quarter with cannon from the City Wall to the South.
View of East Legations Street towards ChongwenMen Nei(=North) Dajie'.
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Former Spanish Legation in Beijing
Just East of the corner and Minsheng Bank stands the Beijing Dongjiaomin Xiang(=Alley) Hotel at number 23. Much of the ancient dividing lines between Legations compounds are repeated here as this is exactly the site of the
Satellite Image Map of Chongwen District and the southern-most part of DongCheng District, clearly showing the extend of West- and East-Legations Street and the Legation Quarter of Beijing.
Dongjiaomin Xiang No.23 is the address of the former Spanish Legation !
Due East of Kierulf's stands the Capital Hotel, partially occupying the grounds of the former Hong Kong (and Shanghai Trading) Bank and partially occupying the grounds of the Former German Legation of Beijing.
The Main Tower of the Capital Hotel with its Northern Facade built to stand right along Dongjiaomin Xiang occupies the exact spot of the former Hong Kong Bank Branch on this Street in the Legations Quarter 0f 1900 AD.
former Spanish Legation in Beijing. Its back reached the Japanese Legation Walls. Not more is known on the Spanish Legation,
Across from No.23 is the former location of the Kierulfs Store. The corner of which currently is marked by the green sign of a muslim restaurant.
Beyond the Post Office, to the East lie the Mansions and buildings of the Former French Legation proper.
Todays buildings and Mansions are not the historic ones but have been constructed after the 1900 AD War.
Former Hong Kong Bank at the Beijing Legations
Around the turn of the 20Th Century the Hong Kong Bank was firmly established as an instrument of British Colonial Interests in China giving it huge business opportunities. A position at the bank was much coveted, and usually employees settled into a comfortable life in the Legations.
Although in the siege of the summer of 1900 AD many of the buildings of the original legations quarter had been laid to waste, surprisingly the Hong Kong Bank and the Peking Hotel (which later moved to the corner of Wanfujing Street and East Eternal Peace Avenue) were the only buildings left undamaged in the British and American Legations after the War, enabling the Bank to continue operations forthwith.
Among the first financial and contradictory consequences of the post-Boxer period was Sir Robert Hart's successful arrangement with the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation of a loan of Ts 10,000 (Silver Taels) a month for the chief Chinese negotiator, Prince Ch'ing [I-K'uang], an obvious but apparently unavoidable bribe.
of Beijing, which are still a regular (spring) Fenomenon.
Hillier lived in China for a long time but needles to say, after turning blind, Hillier left his Beijing post and returned home to Europe and alledgedly a heathier climate. What became of him thereafter is unknown.
Move along further to the East on East Former Legations Street while enjoying the shade of the large trees and the quiet of this important and secured Office Area in Beijing. Although you are in the center of the megametropolis of Beijing, the streets of the Legation Quarter are fairly calm at most times. Traffic in this section is remarkably low which allows one to dwell back into the athmosphere of yesterdays and Colonial Times. Although much has changed since one can still get a fairly good idea of where everything was and where which Nation had posted its local Command a.k.a. Embassy or Business Headquarters.
Prince Xu Tong was an important person who was part of the Royal Family. Xu played a leading Role against the Foreigners in the Uprising.
Su Wang Fu, the Former Residence of Prince Su
A spacious compound located along the southern edge of the Legations, Xu Wang Fu was one of the many Mansions of the Imperial Clan built in the City of Beijing since the establishement of the Imperial Palace in 1420 AD. During the Ching Dynasty all such princes' mansions in the City were built have the same basic architecture and were constructed using the same standard methods. All Imperial Mansions, naturally, were constructed of the building materials including polished stone, the finest timber and superior brickwork.
Not much more can be found on the Beijing Hong Kong Bank of the time of the Boxer War except for the odd fact that its Manager was one Mister Hillier, a person allegedly blinded by the unhealthy dust storms
but lately the new Hotel on its former grounds seems to be quite popular. Hotel Business in Beijing as a whole has been booming just as China's economy of course.
After the 1901 AD Treaty, ending the "Boxer War", the Palace Mansion was turned over to foreigners. It became the locations of the barracks to the British Embassy. Proof of it being a Belgian Legation has yet to be found ! Read More on the Former Su WanFu, Mansion of Prince Su, on the Pages dedicated to the former Residence of Prince Xu in Beijing.
View of Green Legations and More remnants of Legations. In the background along DongjiaoMin Street stands the Former French Post Office.
View along Tree Shaded former East Legations Street in April 2005.
Friendly Guards on Station at a hind gate into residential apartments, part of the Central Party and City Government Bureaucracy.
Next up in the List of Former Legations remnants to be seen and visited are the substantial grounds and buildings of the Former French Legations in Beijing.
Remnants of the French Legations in current day Beijing
In 1910 AD, when the Ching Dynasty finally succumbed to influx of Foreigners and modern ideas, France was the number 2 Western Colonial Power in Asia and the wider world. It was only surpassed by the worlds number One Nation, Britain and its British (Overseas) Empire of Colonies.
Although, there was much strive and much competition among the participating Nations of Japan, Russia, France, the United States of America, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and even more,
in 1900 AD when the Boxer Rebellion and subsequent War occured, France was the number 2 at the Top of the Game.
The Legation remnants of today fully reflect this high position as the French Legation is among the largest in the entire Quarter.
The Former French Legation Grounds included The Peking Hotel (Grand Hotel de Beijing), The French Post Office, the extensive Legation Grounds with several Mansions on it and last but not least the French Cathedral of the Legations further down the road across the intersection with what the French called "Rue Marco Polo".
As an interesting illustration of the mis-understandings and frictions of the Time, the French may have regarded it as their section of the Legations Quarter and re-named the Streets in French accordingly, everyone else on Business in Beijing at the Time - the citizens of other colonial nations - seem to have called it Customs Street, as the Maritime Customs Office run by Mister Hart (see Rue Hart) for the Ching Government was located North up the Street from the "French Cathedral, a.k.a. St. Michaels Church.
Detail of the Front of the Former French Post Office, identifying it as a Historical Landmark under City and State Protection.
Front Details of the French Post Office in April 2005.
With close attention one can still make out part of the French Postal Service logo in this re-used shard of Glass on the side of the building.
Study this building closely and see if you can find out what is part of history and what was
added at a later time.
Much of the exterior remains ori-
ginal albeit bare of French markings.
Step inside for a stylish meal if you have gone hungry from all the hiking around the Legations and other sections of Beijing.
At lunch time the restaurant is frequented by local Government Ministry staffers and the like, in the evenings there is a mixed crowd depending on season. Although the restaurant is located in a rather secluded and hidden away street in this area of Beijing, there are usually enough visiting and appreciating folks to keep a nice atmosphere. Meanwhile you could study the interiors of this original Post Office and see what is else is left.
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Mouse over Image - The Views in both directions along former East Legations Street as seen from the French Post Office turned Restaurant.
Plaquette on the Front of Number 15, designating the Former Post Office a National Historic Relic in Beijing.
Looking up at the Front & Details of todays JingYuan Restaurant.
Basicly the building consist of a Main Dining Hall and several large side-rooms for more private diner occassions. Some of the original lay-out and function can be surmised from the interior. Today, the kitchens are in the back of the building, where more of the original grounds extend. Not much can be found reminding directly of the Post Office however.
This fact is very possibly due to its important but somewhat politically dubious functions in the days of the Legations.
During the turbulent days of the Boxer War, the third large and the most popular of three attempts to exclude Foreigners from their influences on and in China, the French Post Office was the nerve center of communications.
The French Post Office was the very place where the Telegraph Lines connected, keeping the Legations in Vital Contact with the outside world, and thus ensured of the protection of their Foreign Governments. The Legations themselves were not equipped with telegraph lines, nor had radio been invented. Thus, the French Post Office was the only and crucial line to the outside world. Its installations would be put to good use in the events of the 1900 AD Boxer War.
In 1894 AD, one Australian became a special correspondent in China for the influential Times Magazine and Newspaper.
Adjacent the Former French Post Office stands a 1st Mansion of the Former Legations. This was actually part o/t destroyed Japanese Legation and now a part o/t Grounds of the Beijing City Municipality Government and the Beijing Communist Party Branch.
This Australian named Morrison traveled a famous 3000 miles through China from Shanghai eventually to wind up in Beijing at the times of the Boxer Events.
Morrisson would become one of the first world-renowned reporters by the sending of his telegraphed reports on the events of the Summer of 1900 AD.
In early June of 1900 AD, “Times” published an “SOS” from its special correspondent Morrison who was himself inside the Beijing Legations. His short but rapidly transmitted cable had a huge impact on the Political Situation, a first sign of the powers of future "mass media". The Times report, published widely had more impact than any urgent messages send by the foreign diplomats to their respective Governments. The front page of influential papers carried news about the situation in Beijing and the British legation in China. Partially in response to Public Pressure at Home, partially used as an instrument to justify foreign policy, the Times Report by the hand of Morrison became an important element for the British government to send expeditionary troops to China. The rest is History described in our Main Report on the Beijing Legations Quarter.
On June 18, 1900, the British “Times” carried a dispatch by Morrison, which was the last piece of news to be cabled from Beijing before foreign legations the YiHoTuan Boxers cut the cable connections and the Siege of the Legations was on. The dispatch was written on June 14.
Thick grey walls make a good view impossible, besides - on this stretch of the former Legations Street security is higher and no photography is allowed or encouraged. The wall itself is rigged with security cameras and the security of this building is so high because this is the Beijing Residence where Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia
History of the Former French Legation Compound at the Beijing Legations
On the left and north side of the Road is the site of the Former French Legation in Beijing.
On the 13th July of 1900 AD part of the French Legation was blown up by mines, a sneeky way of attack the boxer rebels had turned to after losing dismally in initial skirmishes with the heavily armed Legations Guards from various nations among which French, British, American, Austro-Hungarian, Japanese and Russians.
Today the main gate of the
The Intersection of Former East Legation Street and Former Rue Marco Polo a.k.a. "Customs Street". Across Lie the grounds of what is rumoured to be the Belgian Legation but more likely was the Svedish Legation.
former French Legation stands at No 15, a big red and solid looking entrance guarded 24 hours a day by a pair of stone lions and impassive security guards. The buildings in the Legation were destroyed during the Boxer Rebellion, which involved not only mine attacks but continuous artillery shelling from Chinese Troops posted on top of the nearby City Walls. The result was devastating and in the end there were few buildings left standing in this Street. The Gate and the lions are all that remain today.
lived in exile during 1970 AD to 1975 AD. Later the Prince returned when in 1979 AD Cambodia was attacked by Vietnam ousting the unusually vile, violent, inhumane and criminal Khmer Rouge regime to which the Prince had lend his legitimacy.
More importantly today the compound is partially in use by the Public Security Bureau and partially empty and abandoned. Or so it appears at least. Next Door on both sides lie residential apartments in use by the Beijing Party Elite and Families. Therefor, a close watch is kept at all Times.
Although no photogrpahy is allowed and otherwise there seems little to see, you may catch a glimpse of a protester in front of the Party Building. This would be an extremely rare event that we have so far observed but once. In case this happens one may be tempted to take photo's of the events unfolding, however this may land you in trouble with the always available police and other persons representing authority. After all, this is a high security zone and the National Public Security Bureau Headquarters is less than a block away from this location.
View of the intersection of East Legation Street and Taijichiang Road with some of the structures of the former French legation seen in the background.