Opium Wars

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Opium Wars,

1839–42 and 1856–60, two wars between China and Western countries. 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. 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 (Yuan ming yuan). 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.


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).

References in periodicals archive ?
The Mathew Street gallery is hosting the first ever public showing in the UK of an exhibition from China showing how computer magic has re-created an Imperial Palace destroyed during the Opium Wars.
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 provoked the Third Opium War with the British once again taking the Taku forts, but this time proceeding upriver to the military occupation of Beijing in October 1860.
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 (1859-1860); Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864); First Mahdist, War (1883-1885).
1842: The Treaty of Nanking was signed, ending the Opium War (1839-42) between China and Britain, and ceding the island of Hong Kong to Britain - the neighbouring "New Territories" were added on a 99-year lease in 1898.
His notion of modern China begins with the Opium War of 18539-42 and ends with the May Fourth Movement of 1919, after which the Chinese Communist Party appears on the scene and history becomes "contemporary.
The treaty brought about an end to the three-year First Opium War between Britain and the Qing Dynasty, which was ruling China.
The guards walked a total of 169 steps, which symbolized 169 years since 1840, a watershed in China's history when the country lost the Opium War to Britain.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said: "Everyone knows the objects were plundered by the joint Anglo-French forces during the Second Opium War.
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.