China wars

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1839–42 and 1856–60.

Otherwise known as the ‘Opium wars’. Opium was grown in British India and was one of the few commodities that China was prepared to trade. In 1839 the imperial Chinese government attempted to block the trade. The resulting war was an unequal conflict, with the Chinese having no answer to British fire‐power. The treaty of Nanking gave Britain Hong Kong. China then collapsed into a brutal civil war known as the Tai Ping rebellion (1850–64). Other powers took advantage of this, and in 1857 British and French forces occupied Canton. Although repulsed at the Taku Forts in June 1859, the Anglo‐French force captured them next year, and founded the naval base at Port Arthur (modern Luda). After the convention of Peking had ceded Kowloon to Britain, the Imperial Summer Palace at Peking was destroyed in reprisal for Chinese barbarities.

Subjects: British History.

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