Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Treaty of Nanking

The Treaty of Nanking , signed 29 August, 1842, was the which marked the end of the First Opium War between the and Empires of 1839-42.

Conclusion of the Treaty

In the wake of China's defeat in the Opium War, representatives from the and Qing Empires negotiated a peace treaty aboard the British warship in Nanjing. On 29 August 1842, British representative Sir Henry Pottinger and Qing representatives, Qiying, Ilibu and Niujian, signed the Treaty of Nanking. The treaty consisted of thirteen articles and was ratified by Queen Victoria and the Daoguang Emperor ten months later.


Foreign trading

The fundamental purpose of the treaty was to change the framework of foreign trade which had been in force since 1760. The treaty abolished the monopoly of the Thirteen Factories on foreign trade in Canton and instead five ports were opened for trade, , Amoy , Foochow , Ningpo and Shanghai , where Britons were to be allowed to trade with anyone they wished. Britain also gained the right to send consuls to the treaty ports, which were given the right to communicate directly with local Chinese officials . The treaty was the first in a series of treaties, often referred to as "Unequal Treaties", which China concluded with Western nations in the 19th century. The treaty stipulated that trade in the treaty ports should be subject to fixed tariffs, which were to be agreed upon between the British and the Qing governments .

Reparations and Demobilization

The was obliged to pay the British government 6 million silver dollars for the opium that had been confiscated by Lin Zexu in 1839 , 3 million dollars in compensation for debts that the Hong merchants in Canton owed British merchants , and a further 12 million dollars in for the cost of the war . The total sum of 21 million dollars was to be paid in installments over three years and the Qing government would be charged an annual interest rate of 5 per cent for the money that was not paid in a timely manner . This left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Qing government instilling a fierce hatred of the British among its population.

The Qing government undertook to release all British prisoners of war and to give a general amnesty to all Chinese subjects who had cooperated with the British during the war .

The British on their part, undertook to withdraw all of their troops from Nanjing and the Grand Canal after the emperor had given his assent to the treaty and the first installment of money had been received . British troops would remain in Gulangyu and Zhoushan until the Qing government had paid reparations in full .

Cession of Hong Kong

The Qing government agreed to cede the island of Hong Kong to the British Queen "in perpetuity" in order to provide British traders with a harbour where they could unload their goods . Pottinger was later appointed the first governor of Hong Kong.


Since the Treaty of Nanking was only a brief peace treaty with very general stipulations, the British and Chinese representatives agreed that a supplementary treaty be concluded in order to work out more detailed regulations for relations between the two empires. Consequently, on 3 October 1843, the supplementary Treaty of the Bogue was concluded at Bocca Tigris outside Canton.

Nevertheless, the treaties of 1842-3 left several unsettled issues. In particular it did not resolve the status of the opium trade with China, which was profitable for the British and devastating to the Chinese. Although the explicitly banned Americans from selling opium, the trade continued as both the British and American merchants were only subject to the legal control of their consuls. The opium trade was later legalized in the Treaties of Tianjin, which China concluded after the Second Opium War.


Although the Treaty of Nanking in itself did not depart very far from contemporary in Europe, the treaty proved to be only the first in a series of treaties which China concluded with Western nations in the nineteenth century and would in due course be referred to as an "." The treaty created a new framework for China's foreign relations and overseas trade, which would last for almost a hundred years. Although China regained tariff autonomy in the 1920s, extraterritoriality was not formally abolished until 1943.

One of the most lasting legacies of the treaty was the crown colony of Hong Kong. In 1860, the colony was extended with the Kowloon peninsula and in 1898, the Convention of Peking further expanded the colony with the 99 year lease of the New territories. In 1984, the governments of the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China concluded the , under which the sovereignty of the leased territories, together with Hong Kong Island and ceded under the Convention of Peking , was to the PRC on July 1, 1997.

No comments: