Opium War Essay

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Opium War Information The Opening of China The War, although entitled "The Opium War" was in fact not about opium at all. As President John Quinay Adams said, "The seizer of a few thousand chests of opium smuggled into China by the Chinese government was no more the cause of the Opium War than the throwing overboard of the tea in the Boston harbour was the cause of North American Revolution."3 In the race to colonize the world, China represented the last prize in the Far East for European countries. The Opium War was the first step designed to open China along with its markets and resources for exploitation. The War itself physically opened China. However, it was the aftermath of the War that exposed China, economically, socially, politically and ideologically to the outside world. The unequal treaties signed after the Opium War were the primary mechanisms to open China. Treaties and Their Effects The Treaty of Nanjing (August, 1842) and supplement treaties (July and October 1843) signed between the British and the Chinese were the first of the humiliating "unequal treaties". It radically increased the openings for trade in China and expanded the scope of British activities. The treaties opened five ports, Canton, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Linbou and Shanghai to conduct foreign trade as treaty ports. A war indemnity of 21 million Mexican dollars was to be paid by the Chinese government. Hong Kong was surrendered to the British, giving the British a base for further military, political and economical penetrations of China. The surrender of Hong Kong breached China's territorial integrity. The Treaty stated that all custom duties must be negotiated with other countries. It therefore took away China's control of its own customs. Furthermore, the import duties were lowered from 65% to 5%, this effectively shattered China's home industries. The Nanjing Treaty

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