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 ?
In fact, the first Opium War began in 1840 when the young Queen Victoria (she was then just 21) was faced with a fiscal quandary eerily like the one engaging Trump and Xi today: a trade imbalance.
The war was the Second Opium War, which culminated in 1860 with the palaces being ransacked, first by French and then British troops.
A section of the ruins of the old Summer Palace as they stand today Captain, later Colonel, Harry Lewis Evans, a picture dated 1857, three years before the culmination of the Second Opium War and the fall of the Summer Palace.
Over one-and-a-half centuries after the defeat of the Opium Wars, China are still looking for the way to make it great again.
Drawing upon the Sino-British exchanges and clashes around the two Opium Wars, this essay discusses how free trade and the rule of law, as discursive and institutional practices, shaped De Quincey's idea of taming Qing China.
Many had fled from the hunger and poverty induced by opium wars, corruption, and bullying by the Western powers.
As a result of the two Opium Wars (1) and the massive Taiping Rebellion, (2) American views of China shifted in the direction of profits and souls.
From the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century to the Chinese president spending two nights at Buckingham Palace as the guest of Queen Elizabeth II, Sino-British relations have come a long way indeed.
The past-life stories in The Incarnations are culled from some of the bloodiest moments in Chinese history, from the invasion of Genghis Khan to the Opium Wars and the Cultural Revolution.
NORMALLY, most of us would take the "Let the benighted lie" attitude when coming across comments made by those that are clearly beyond enlightenment, but I would make an exception in the case of Gerry Doyle, who said bringing the Opium Wars into the discussion of democracy, Hong Kong and China was "laughable" (Support democracy, ECHO, January 12).
Had they continued their foreign expeditions learnt new scientific knowledge that Europe was to offer in coming centuries they would not have felt helpless against invading navies of the West during Opium Wars and later.
The work is divided into three parts, the first covering the history of tea from its discovery and naming through its literary documentation, trade, and influence on such famous political developments as the Opium Wars and the American Revolution.