The opium war and the treaty of Nanking (nanjing)
The Opium War (1839-42) was a decisive turning point in Chinese history, when the British badly defeated the Chinese over the Chinese boycott of opium trade. It was followed by a series of military defeats of China in the rest of the 19th century: the Second Opium War (1858-60); the Sino-French War (1884-85); the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), and finally, the retaliation of the Eight Allied Forces against China (1900-01).
The Opium War shattered the Chinese conception of themselves and the outside world. Up to 1839, even in the letter to Queen Victoria by Commissioner Lin Tse-hsu, who was in charge of dealing with the sale of British opium in China, the view of the outside world did not change significantly from half a century earlier, the time of Emperor Chien-lung (Qian Long). A closed, self-complacent, agrarian and self-sufficient Chinese economy finally encountered the taste of an aggressive, rapidly industrializing society that would not bow to any one else. It was a shock that would send reverberations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. China's defeat in the series of wars, while fostering nationalism, would inflict a tremendous dent on the Chinese sense of their cultural identity. Serious questionings of Chinese culture and government would eventually follow, and unlike Japan that would strive to hold onto some "national essence," the Chinese, in the 20th century, would seek the destruction of such an essence, namely, Confucian learning: the systematic teachings by Confucius, a Chinese scholar who lived 2500 years ago. They would also usher in a regime change: replacing the Manchu imperial government with a republic in 1911. Even till today, China remains sensitive to any sign of instigation that hinted at its historical humiliation. Therefore, when the Chinese embassy was mistakenly bombed in Belgrade by American bombers in an attempt to capture Slobodin Milosevich in 1999, Chinese stormed the American embassy in Beijing to protest against "American imperialism," as if the historical wound of national humiliation was still raw.
The Opium War and result:
The Opium War was started by the British over Chinese banning of opium trade: the British merchants petitioned the British parliament to send troops to retaliate against the Chinese government because it banned British opium, grown in India, to be sold in China.
- Historically, Britain bought Chinese tea, silk, and Chinaware, but China, a self sufficient economy as Emperor Chien Lung alleged in 1793, bought little from Britain. Finally, Britain found a niche in the Chinese market: opium, which caused many Chinese, from the emperor's son to the pauper, to be addicted, leading to Chinese banning of opium in 1839.
- After the defeat, China was required to do the following:
- Pay Britain twenty-one million dollars.
- Open five Chinese ports to Britain for trade.
- Allow Britain one-sided most-favored nation status.
- Allow British subjects extraterritoriality in China.