The Second China War: 1856-1860

1st Edition

D. Bonner-Smith, A.C. Dewar

Routledge
Published April 25, 2019
Reference - 469 Pages
ISBN 9781911423201 - CAT# K400002

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Summary

The causes of the Second China War were complex; one factor went back deep into China’s past when the country was the predominant power in the Far East and had developed a civilisation that, culturally and technically, was far ahead of that of Europe. This gave them a superiority complex which they retained when the country turned in on itself and cut itself off from the rest of the world at the end of its golden age which occurred around the end of the 15th century. They were still maintaining this attitude at the time of the events with which this volume is concerned, regarding the Europeans as barbarians and an inferior race.

The other major factor was the European, predominantly British need to find markets for the ever increasing volume of manufactured goods. A further factor was the breakdown in the Chinese system of government, which was beginning at that time. British relations with China were governed by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking that had ended the First China War, more often called the Opium War. Under this treaty Britain was permitted to establish a number of trading stations, of which the most important was at Canton. However relations were never good, though conducted with very polite formality, there were violations of the treaty – on both sides – and Britain’s deployment of its military strength led to hostilities that became an undeclared war.

The papers in this volume portray an immensely complicated situation diplomatically, politically and militarily. Suffice it to say that Britain, with other foreign powers, prevailed and trade with China was subsequently opened up.

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