Treaty of Nanjing: the end of the war that left China at the mercy of the United Kingdom

On August 29, 1842, China and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Nanjing, marking the end of the Opium War.

Considered the first unequal treaty to which Western powers subjected the Chinese Empire, the agreement included the Chinese cession of Hong Kong to Great Britain.

The Opium War or “Anglo-Chinese” was a military conflict that pitted the British and Chinese Empires between 1939 and 1842.

Its cause was the commercial interests that created the British opium smuggling in India and China, and the efforts of the Chinese Imperial Government to impose laws against the dealers.

The protectionist policy of the Chinese Empire restricted trade with Europe to the port of Canton and required that its products could only be purchased with silver, a currency that the British imported from America and other European countries.

China’s trade policies turned the trade balance with Europe in its favor. The United Kingdom failed in its attempt to access the Chinese market and British merchants pressured their government to force the opening of the Asian empire.

Thus arose the trafficking of opium, an addictive substance that the British produced in the Indian area under their rule.

Although the opium trade was illegal in both China and the United Kingdom, it took place with the tactical consent of the British authorities, eager to limit the loss of silver reserves.

In China, the drug was known for its benefits, but the authorities had not foreseen the devastating effects that its addiction could cause. Smuggling and consumption expanded remarkably rapidly in Chinese territory, generating large revenues for the United Kingdom and threatening Chinese social cohesion.

China’s response, through the Daoguang Emperor, was to order the seizure of all opium in foreign hands in Canton, and the expulsion of the dealers.

The United Kingdom had tipped the trade balance in its favor with the sale of opium, and the seizure and destruction of more than 20,000 boxes of opium, valued at five million pounds, triggered the armed conflict.

When London heard the news, in the early 1840s, it made a formal declaration of war, sending 16 warships with 4,000 men to Chinese shores, and sent a list of demands to Beijing.

The Chinese Empire refused to comply with British orders, launching into a war in which it was overwhelmed by the military superiority of the West, which devastated different Chinese bastions.

British naval dominance put China in check, which sent a delegation from Nanking on August 14, 1842 to meet the European fleet.

After a few weeks of negotiations, the Chinese emperor authorized the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, an agreement signed on board the British warship HMS Cornwallis.

The treaty ended the first Opium War and put China at the mercy of foreign influence, marking a turning point in its history and the beginning of the final decline of the Qing dynasty.

China granted the United Kingdom strategic points for trade and recognized British sovereignty over Hong Kong Island.

The Treaty of Nanjing is considered unequal due to its submission to the will of Imperial China.

On August 29, 1842, China and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Nanjing, marking the end of the Opium War.

History is also news. Radio Profile. Script by Nicolás Ziccardi and voiceover by Pita Fortín.

by Radio Profile

Image gallery

Related articles

Sergio Massa intervened in the fight between Mercado Pago and the BCRA and asked...

Since the morning of this Wednesday, September 27, rumors began to circulate that the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic would reverse the...

They follow Messi: FIFA also packs his suitcases and disembarks in Miami

Since Lionel Messi moved all his talent to Miami, the eyes of the world are on what is happening with Inter Miami. Following...

The tantalizing scent of rain or freshly baked bread: why can certain smells transport...

My father was a carpenter, meaning I have spent a great deal of my life surrounded by wood, saws, plans...