The Opium War: The Qing Dynasty: The Last Imperial Dynasty Of China

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The Opium War: The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was the last imperial dynasty of China. Established by Manchu invaders in 1644, China faced unprecedented growth and destruction. Whilst China’s economy and population blossomed, domestic and international policies converged, effectively rendering China a semi-colonial status, and ushering in a century of humiliation. Since the sixteenth century, China actively engaged in trade with the West. For many Europeans, Chinese products such as silk and porcelain were extremely coveted. In the case of Britain, Chinese tea became a central part of Britain’s national identity. By 1785, British tea imports had reached over fifteen million pounds, and one tenth of British revenue came from Chinese tea taxes. However, as western trade expanded in China during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Manchu leaders became increasingly concerned for China’s national security. Viewing the increased prevalence of foreign traders as a potentially destabilizing force, the Qing…show more content…
The Opium War (1839-1842) was now in full effect. For the British, the war was seen as an upholding of free trade, and national honor (in the face of the backwards Chinese), while for the Chinese the war was viewed as a fight against opium and British authority. With the advancement of British troops in northern China, the Qing emperor became increasingly dissatisfied with Commissioner Lin, leading to his expulsion and exile. Although Lin was quickly replaced by a new governor general Ch’-i-shan, he too was dismissed when agreements made between the British forces and himself were deemed inadequate (i.e. the Ch’uan-Pi Convention). Unmatched to the modernized military power of Britain, the Qing government began to realize its inadequacies. In February 1841, Canton was besieged only to be lifted on the payment of six million dollars, and by August, Xiamen and Dinhai were occupied by the
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