opium wars & treaty port system

Posted: July 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

Beginning of European contacts :

  1. arrival of the Portuguese 1st, followed by Spanish, dutch, English & French.
  2. establishment of contacts with the Chinese through canton, which was preferred by the Europeans because of its strategic position.
  3. making canton the only ‘open port’ for European trade by the Chinese emperor in 1757, & imposition of a number of restrictions upon the Europeans.

Meaning of opium wars & treaty port system:

  1. “opium wars” were the anglo – Chinese wars fought between 1840 – 42 & 1856 – 58.
  2. they were waged by England against China ostensibly to protect her opium trade, but really to achieve the greater object of acquiring a political footing & extra – territorial rights.
  3. “treaty port system” was the system in which the Europeans were allowed to trade with china through the specific ports.
  4. through the system, the Europeans forcibly opened the gates of china to the inroads of European colonialism & imperialism.

1st opium war:


  1. superior attitude of the Chinese towards Europeans
  2. monopoly privileges of the “co-hong” merchants.
  3. desire of the new british merchants to find new markets.
  4. foreign resentment against tariff irregularities in china.
  5. resentment against application of the Chinese law of talion or eye – for –eye.
  6. clash of Chinese & English interests over the question of opium trade (activities of Lin Tse – hsu)
  7. immediate cause – Kowloon Incident.


  1. 1st phase = april 1840 – January 1841
  2. 2nd phase = February 1841 – may 1841
  3. 3rd phase = june 1841 – August 1842.

Consequences (treaty of Nanking) :

  1. opening of 5 treaty ports to the west.
  2. revision of tariff rates in a fair & regular manner.
  3. acceptance of the principle of equality (abolition of kowtow)
  4. payment of a large war indemnity system
  5. abolition of the “co-hong” system.
  6. british to co-operate in suppression of contraband goods, particularly opium.

2nd opium war :

Causes :

  1. dissatisfaction of the Europeans with the outcome of the treaty of Nanking.
  2. resentment of the Chinese against the continuing opium trade & the ‘pig trade’.
  3. growing desire of the Europeans to extend Chinese market for their goods.
  4. desire of the Christian missionaries to travel & propagate their religion freely in the interior of china.
  5. European desire to have diplomatic representation at Chinese imperial court.
  6. immediate cause – Lorcha Arrow Incident.

Consequences (treaty of Tientsin) :

  1. opening of ten more treaty ports.
  2. maintenance of European resident ministers at perking
  3. toleration of Christianity in china
  4. revision of tariff rates favorable to Europeans
  5. permission to European warships in all treaty ports.
  6. legalization of opium trade.

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