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 ?
Though a bit detached from the Opium War, William Gladstone remained a major contributor to the imperial project during the 1830s and 1840s, along with Palmerstone as politician, Edward Gibbon Wakefield as theorist, not to mention Jeremy Bentham and J.
5) Appropriating this explanation, during (and after) the Opium War (1839-42) many believed firmly that the English barbarians could neither bend their knees nor run fast, and therefore should not be able to fight ashore.
What I wanted to try to do with this book is try to tell a tale of the Opium War which looked from both the Chinese and British perspectives.
His long years of service to the English East India Company and later British consular authorities in China would also involve him in what many have criticized as compromising or hypocritical ventures, such as his services as an official for the British during their occupation of coastal territory in the Opium War.
The ambiguities and agency of the Parsis were clearly evident in the period prior to and following the Opium War, and both ultimately underscored their subservient place within the imperial economic and sociopolitical order.
The Opium Wars were also justified on the basis that Chinese were not Christian or European, and were an inferior race.
The British took control of Hong Kong in 1842, when China was forced to relinquish Hong Kong to Great Britain after the Opium War.
Born out of the evil and shame of the Opium War, Hong Kong today commands pride.
He does, however, affirm Skinner's evaluation of dramatic growth after the Opium War and expand on his assessment of the precarious state of the early twentieth-century economy.
Other works include The No^O Plays of Japan (1921), Introduction to the Study of Chinese Painting (1923), The Opium War through Chinese Eyes (1958), and The Ballads and Stories from Tun-huang (1960).
Great Britain considered this a hostile action and so began the Opium War.
If the West criticises China, the Chinese government can press what you might call the Opium War button: It reminds the Chinese people that the West has always been full of schemes [such as the Opium War] and therefore not to be trusted," Lovell says.