History of China's Second Opium War against England
History of China's Second Opium War against England

The first Opium War smoothly spilled over into a civil war, which suited foreigners very much, as it further weakened the already plundered country and reduced the likelihood of success of the liberation movement.

In addition, the British believed that not all of their interests in the region were satisfied, so they were looking for an excuse to unleash a new war.


But if a pretext for war is needed, then it will always be found. This was the reason for the seizure by the Chinese authorities of a ship that was engaged in piracy, robbery and smuggling.

The ship "Arrow" was assigned to Hong Kong, which by that time the British had already appropriated for themselves, and therefore sailed under the English flag. This was enough to unleash the so-called Second Opium War (1856-1860).


In 1857, the British captured Guangzhou, but then they started having problems in India, and they stopped the invasion. In 1858, negotiations were resumed with the participation of the United States, France and Russia.

As a result of the Tianjin Agreements, China was forced to open six more ports for foreigners, gave foreigners the right to free movement around the country and free missionary activities.

All foreigners accused of any crime from that day on could not be convicted under Chinese law. They should have been handed over to the local consulates, who themselves decided what to do with it.

The emperor pulled as best he could with the signing of this agreement, so in 1860 the Anglo-French troops reached Beijing and barbarously plundered the imperial summer palace, threatening to destroy all of Beijing.


Then the Chinese were forced to sign the now "Beijing Agreement", according to which China again had to pay a large indemnity, transfer part of its territories to the Europeans, the Chinese could be exported to Europe and its colonies as cheap labor, and several more ports had to be opened for foreigners.

It should be noted that the Russian general Nikolai Ignatiev played an important role in the signing of the Peking Treaty, as a representative of Russia.

For help in negotiations with foreigners, which took place in the "Russian mission", where the general achieved the allies' abandonment of the plans to occupy Beijing, the Chinese Emperor agreed to clarify the border with Russia, as a result of which the left bank of the Amur and Ussuri with all coastal harbors to Posiet Bay and the Manchurian coast to Korea.

In the west, the border along the Nor-Zaisang lake in the Heavenly Mountains was significantly corrected in favor of Russia. Russia also received the right to overland trade in the Chinese possessions, as well as the right to open consulates in Urga, Mongolia and Kashgar.


Previously, the opium trade was simply not paid attention to, but as a result of the Beijing agreements it became simply legal. This has had a twofold effect. On the one hand, the British continued to plunder the country, but on the other hand, very soon there was nothing to plunder.

The snake began to devour its own tail. As English newspapers wrote: "The obstacle is not the lack of demand in China for English goods … The payment for opium absorbs all the silver, much to the detriment of the general trade of the Chinese … The manufacturers have no prospects for trade with China."

Opium began to be grown directly in China, resulting in tens of millions of consumers and a million hectares of opium plantations. China had every chance to turn into an abandoned desert and be wiped off the face of the earth as a separate state.


A bit unexpected, but despite the fact that it was the income from the sale of opium that initially served as a source of financial support for the communists in the early years of the founding of the Communist Party of China, it was the dictator Mao Zedong who subsequently managed to stop the seemingly inevitable end of the great country with super-harsh measures.

Small traders and consumers were given the opportunity to earn honest labor, while the large ones were either executed or imprisoned.

Perhaps this is also why, despite the obvious cruelty of his reforms and terror, Mao Zedong is still revered in the People's Republic of China. For he still managed to revive the already practically dead corpse of the country and breathe new life into it.


Today, the Chinese regard the period of the Opium Wars as a national tragedy, calling those times "a century of humiliation." If before the Opium Wars the Chinese considered their country to be a great power capable of living independently without interfering in big world politics, today they look at the world more realistically. They also opened their eyes to the Europeans, their values ​​and goals, which today allows the Chinese to more accurately assess international relations and their role in them. Perhaps we can say that the opium wars, albeit in such a sad way, had such a positive impact on the development of China.

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