British Imperialism in China | Guided History
At the same time, the UK boasts the sort of links with the Party-State that have recently fallen under intense scrutiny in Chinese influence. The first Opium War (–42) was fought between China and Britain; or the Anglo-French War in China, was fought by Britain and France. UK and Chinese ministers celebrate 40th anniversary of scientific relations The China International Import Expo saw the UK delegation, led by Dr Liam Fox.
Britain and other European countries undertook the opium trade because of their chronic trade imbalance with China. Consequently, Europeans had to pay for Chinese products with gold or silver. The opium trade, which created a steady demand among Chinese addicts for opium imported by the West, solved this chronic trade imbalance.
The country traders sold the opium to smugglers along the Chinese coast.
The gold and silver the traders received from those sales were then turned over to the East India Company. In China the company used the gold and silver it received to purchase goods that could be sold profitably in England.
The amount of opium imported into China increased from about chests annually in to roughly 1, chests in and then to about 10, per year between and The weight of each chest varied somewhat—depending on point of origin—but averaged approximately pounds By the amount had grown to some 40, chests imported into China annually. The balance of payments for the first time began to run against China and in favour of Britain.
How China-UK relations have evolved
Meanwhile, a network of opium distribution had formed throughout China, often with the connivance of corrupt officials. Levels of opium addiction grew so high that it began to affect the imperial troops and the official classes.
The efforts of the Qing dynasty to enforce the opium restrictions resulted in two armed conflicts between China and the West, known as the Opium Warsboth of which China lost and which resulted in various measures that contributed to the decline of the Qing. The first war, between Britain and China —42did not legalize the trade, but it did halt Chinese efforts to stop it.
In the second Opium War —60 —fought between a British-French alliance and China—the Chinese government was forced to legalize the trade, though it did levy a small import tax on opium.
The forecast for British-Chinese relations in a storm on the horizon
By that time opium imports to China had reached 50, to 60, chests a year, and they continued to increase for the next three decades. Other Western countries quickly demanded and were given similar privileges.
The second Opium War In the mids, while the Qing government was embroiled in trying to quell the Taiping Rebellion —64the British, seeking to extend their trading rights in China, found an excuse to renew hostilities. In early October some Chinese officials boarded the British-registered ship Arrow while it was docked in Canton, arrested several Chinese crew members who were later releasedand allegedly lowered the British flag.
Later that month a British warship sailed up the Pearl River estuary and began bombarding Canton, and there were skirmishes between British and Chinese troops. Trading ceased as a stalemate ensued. In December Chinese in Canton burned foreign factories trading warehouses there, and tensions escalated. The French decided to join the British military expedition, using as their excuse the murder of a French missionary in the interior of China in early After delays in assembling the forces in China British troops that were en route were first diverted to India to help quell the Indian Mutinythe allies began military operations in late In May allied troops in British warships reached Tianjin Tientsin and forced the Chinese into negotiations.
The treaties of Tianjinsigned in Juneprovided residence in Beijing for foreign envoys, the opening of several new ports to Western trade and residence, the right of foreign travel in the interior of China, and freedom of movement for Christian missionaries.
In further negotiations in Shanghai later in the year, the importation of opium was legalized. The British withdrew from Tianjin in the summer ofbut they returned to the area in June en route to Beijing with French and British diplomats to ratify the treaties.