Opium Wars

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Opium Wars,

1839–42 and 1856–60, two wars between China and Western countries that marked the shift of wealth and power from East to West. The first was between Great Britain and China. Early in the 19th cent., British merchants began smuggling opium into China in order to balance their purchases of tea for export to Britain. In 1839, China enforced its prohibitions on the importation of opium by destroying at Guangzhou (Canton) a large quantity of opium confiscated from British merchants. Great Britain, which had been looking to end China's restrictions on foreign trade, responded by sending gunboats to attack several Chinese coastal cities, killing many civilians in the process. China, unable to withstand modern arms, was defeated and forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing (1842) and the British Supplementary Treaty of the Bogue (1843). These provided that the ports of Guangzhou, Jinmen, Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai should be open to British trade and residence; in addition Hong Kong was ceded to the British. Within a few years other Western powers signed similar treaties with China and received commercial and residential privileges, and the Western domination of China's treaty ports began. In 1856 a second war broke out following an allegedly illegal Chinese search of a British-registered ship, the Arrow, in Guangzhou. British and French troops took Guangzhou and Tianjin and compelled the Chinese to accept the treaties of Tianjin (1858), to which France, Russia, and the United States were also party. China agreed to open 11 more ports, permit foreign legations in Beijing, sanction Christian missionary activity, and legalize the import of opium. China's subsequent attempt to block the entry of diplomats into Beijing as well as Britain's determination to enforce the new treaty terms led to a renewal of the war in 1859. This time the British and French occupied Beijing and burned the imperial summer palace. The Beijing conventions of 1860, by which China was forced to reaffirm the terms of the Treaty of Tianjin and make additional concessions, concluded the hostilities.

Bibliography

See A. Waley, The Opium War through Chinese Eyes (1958, repr. 1968); H.-P. Chang, Commissioner Lin and the Opium War (1964); P. W. Fay, The Opium War, 1840–1842 (1975); S. R. Platt, Imperial Twilight (2018).

References in periodicals archive ?
Shijie Guan, "Chartism and the First Opium War," History Workshop 24 (Autumn 1987) p.
To the Chinese, the return of the colony grabbed by Britain in the Opium Wars, is `a grand family reunion' ending `one and a half centuries of shame'.
The Second Opium War (1856-1860), led by an Anglo-French coalition, ended in further ignominy for the Chinese: Beijing's famed Old Summer Palace was gutted as a reprisal for the torture of a British mediation team; the treaties signed to conclude the war forced China to open full-scale trading relations with the West, legalise opium trade throughout the country, cede Kowloon and pay a total indemnity of 5 million ounces of silver to the British and the French.
This book is a survey of much of the most important Chinese elite thought of the 1600s, 1700s, and early 1800s - the "late imperial China" of the two and a half centuries before the outbreak of the Opium War - in terms of what its author sees as that thought's unprecedentedly rigorous efforts to revitalize and restore the primacy of Confucian ritualism.
Principal wars: Crimean War (1853-1856); Second Opium War (1856-1860); Egyptian War (1882); World War I (1914-1918).
Memorial temples dedicated to him were erected in Foochu city, his home in Fukien, and where the destruction took place on the Pearl River in 1840, now the site of the Opium War Museum.
River of Smoke (2011) by Amitav Ghosh (John Murray, 20 [pounds sterling]) The story of the role that merchants played in starting the first Opium War
At the outbreak of the first Opium War, in 1838, a storm breaks over the Indian Ocean.
The treaty brought about an end to the three-year First Opium War between Britain and the Qing Dynasty, which was ruling China.
The First Opium War was officially ended by the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, and it revealed two things.
It claimed that British and French troops looted the antiques from a Chinese palace during the second Opium War 140 years ago.