International Conference on Urban Cultural Heritage and Architectural Conservation of Tianjin 天津市社会科学界第九届（2013）学术年会天津大学分会 – 暨第二届天津城市建筑文化遗产保 护国际研讨会 edition:2 location:Tianjin University, School of Architecture date:16-18 September 2013
Contrary to most Western countries, Belgium, a world-leading industrial nation in the nineteenth century, promoted another kind of imperialism that was not based on military power but on technological knowhow. Tianjin was the only treaty port in China where Belgium obtained a concession in 1902. Belgian did not develop their concession (it was returned to China in 1931), but were active in all the other concession areas, especially the French and British ones.
This paper will present two Belgian construction and transportation companies that developed transnational business in Tianjin, for both Western and Chinese clients. The Compagnie de Tramways et d’Élairage de Tientsin (CTET), founded in 1901, built the first electric transport in China. The Crédit Foncier d’Extrême-Orient (CFEO), founded in Tianjin in 1904, had a construction department that designed, built and maintained infrastructure as well as hundreds of buildings of all types in Tianjin and also had a brick factory.
Except Belgian bankers, traders and missionaries, the Belgian architects and engineers active in Tianjin until the late 1940s were agents of modernity and technological transfers. Present Tianjin conserves relics of this shared heritage.