We are approaching last period of Qing dynasty and end of imperial China after almost 2000 years of imperial history. Jiaqing Emperor who inherited throne ruled between 1796 and 1820. During his rule China experienced a rebellion of extremist White Lotus Sect but it was surpassed in 1804 after ten years. Jiaqing is known for anti-Christian policies since he still considered jesuits and other missionaries as threat to Chinese society and stability of empire. He issued and amendment to Qing Code a provision which punishes jesuits if caught on Chinese territory by death. Also provision prohibited conversion to Christianity for Han and Manchu people and if they reject to give up Christianity they were sent to Kashgar or Turpan to become slaves of Uighur lords and beys. After Jiaqing died this policy was continued by Daoguang Emperor. Daoguang Emperor inherited an empire in stagnation surrounded almost by new foreign powers which were colonizing Asia slowly. Internally China was stable in terms of society and economy despite stagnation. Pressure on China to open its markets for foreign trade was rising but China was closing itself more being afraid of disruption of its culture and stability. Britain mostly was pressuring China to open its trade since China didnt want to buy from it but only sold tea to it. East India Company was buying large amounts of tea from Guangzhou port and selling it to Britain earning large amounts of money. But it had deficit in exports and wanted to increase exports and found opium to be most profitable. For East Indian Company was more important to sell and earn than ethics of commodity such as opium. Opium was harvested in British colonized India and Britain didnt know where to sell it in big amounts. Chinese didnt want any commodities but only wanted silver for tea what was unsustainable for Britain. So they found opium as good option which would attract people. Meantime in Xinjiang there was a rebellion initiated by Jahangir Khoja in 1826. There increased dispute between Uighur and Hui people and it led to rebellion. At beginning Turkic rebels were successful by capturing Kashgar and Turpan but later were defeated. Hui fought alongside of Chinese troops this time.
First Opium War
In 1839 First Opium War started which symbolized beginning of 1 century of humiliation of China and beginning of an end of Chinese empire. Opium sales were secretly partially tolerated when they were in small amounts sold by British since middle of 18th century. But its amount was rising since more and more households got addicted to opium and it was becoming more and more profitable for British while for Chinese it was becoming bigger problem which could create more and more less productive addicted and unethical people. 1500 tons annually were smuggled into China through Guangzhou. Chinese special imperial commissioner in Guangzhou sent letter to British Queen which never arrived asking to stop opium smuggling in Guangzhou. Local government in Guangzhou in 1839 confiscated large amount of opium from British warehouse. These days drunk British sailor killed Chinese villager and British merchants rescued him and refused him to give him in front of Chinese court. In October of the same year Chinese authorities entered British merchant ships and threw away all opium into water. Chinese fleet blocked Pearl River in order to prevent British to arrive to Guangzhou. But in November 1839 British forces attacked Chinese blockade and war started. Battles were held at Guangzhou and Hong Kong. British used only 20 000 soldiers of this were 7000 Indian colonial forces. They used only 70 ships. Chinese had there 200 000 soldiers and much more ships but they were severely defeated. Thing is that British had much more advanced rifles and stronger ships while Chinese used outdated guns and wooden ships because of isolation they did not advance. Guangzhou and Hong Kong were captured by British in 1841 and battles continued alongside Southeastern coast. In 1841 in Battle of Xiamen Chinese were defeated too despite heroic defense British landing was successful. Final battle was at Chinkiang which ended by British capturing of Nanjing in 1842. Emperor Daoguan asked for peace treaty. Losses on British side were not big about 350 people while Chinese lost 19 000 people.
Nanjing Treaty of 1842 was first unequal treaty that China had to sign. Its provisions were following: 1) China must open fully for trade Guangzhou, Ningbo, Tianjin, Fuzhou and Shanghai for foreign trade including opium2 ) Cohong a Chinese guild which conducted trade with British and mediated in Sino-British trade since 18th century is abolished, 3) Foreign merchants can keep warehouses in open ports and merchants got granted extraterritoriality 4) British consuls can be present in all open ports to supervise freedom and protection of British merchants, 5) Hong Kong port is completely given under British crown as colonial territory and 6) China must pay high reparations to Britain.
This defeat proved that China isnt anymore dominant world power and isnt invicible. This war showed that China is backward now in terms of technology. It was first sign that Qing dynasty is not most superior and that Middle Kingdom isnt center of the world anymore and Chinese people started to lose trust into Qing dynasty. After this treaty Chinese reputation in world fell and became vulnerable to demands of other countries which eyed their interest on weakened China. At same time Sikh empire invaded Chinese Tibet in 1841 but already until 1842 Sikhs were defeated and expelled.
Soon USA took opportunity in 1844 and forced China to accept treaty which grants extraterritoriality for US merchants in 4 open ports, allows them to build own churches and hospitals in these 4 cities and establishment of US consuls in 4 cities. It is known as Wanghia treaty. French did same with treaty in Whampoa in same year 1844 and by this treaty China had to allow missionaries in port towns. In 1850 Daoguang Emperor died and was succeeded by Xianfeng Emperor. Also Russian Empire used chance for expanding its imperialistic aims and imposed treaty of Kulja( 1851) by which China had to completely open Ningyuan and Huiyuan for caravan trade.
Second Opium War and looting of Yuanmingyuan
In 1856 even bigger humiliation of China started. There was ongoing civil war known as Taiping rebellion about which we will speak later. Brits wanted to use chance of it and gain more in pressuring China. In 1856 Chinese army captured ship Arrow in port of Guangzhou suspecting for piracy. They arrested crew members. British consulate in Guangzhou demanded immediate release and apology. Chinese officials did not release all members of crew and British fleet attacked Guangzhou soon. Than Chinese army burnt all opium in warehouses held by British merchants. British attack on Guangzhou was delayed until 1857 since they had rebellion in their colony India and it was at that moment priority for them. French also joined British forces as they wanted to revenge for recent murder of French missionary in China. He was killed in Guangxi because this area was still closed for foreign presence. By end of 1857 British governor of Hong Kong and consul in Guangzhou demanded immediate release of remaining crew from Arrow and apology from imperial officer Ye Mingchen. Crew was released but there was no apology so British and French navies started bombing of Guangzhou. So battle of Guangzhou was ongoing between Chinese against British and French navies. Already on 1st January 1858 Guangzhou was occupied by British and French forces. Ye Mingchen was captured and exiled to Calcutta where he died from starvation.
Russia used a chance and threatened China to accept new revisionist treaty which cancelled Treaty of Nerchinsk( 1689). In May 1858 new Aigun Treaty was signed as Russia imposed new imperialist aims. Russia occupied large portions of Manchuria which are today part of Russia. Russia needed this territories as it wanted to secure more areas on Pacific and balance against Japan. Russia included this area in TransSiberian rail project and started building new ports. Next month in june 1858 China was forced to signed treaty in Tianjin under threat of British and French navies to storm Tianjin. Before that at Battle of Dagu forts Chinese troops were defeated and British and French troops captured Dagu a core strategic point next to Tianjin. Provisions of treaty were following: 1) China opens for complete free and low tax trade except in previous ports in Newchang, Tamsui, Nanjing and Hangzhou, 2) reparations of 6mln taels, 3) foreigners can move freely in all China for seeking trade, 4) missionary activities allowed in all China, 5) legalization of opium, 6) foreign vessels can use Yangtze for traveling, 7) establishment of British, Russian, French and US legations in Beijing, 8) no more use of word barbarian for official communication with westerners, 9) extraterritoriality granted to citizens of foreign powers who come to trade in China, who come as diplomats or missionaries. After signing treaty British and French forces left Dagu.
Emperor Xianfeng was persuaded by some ministers to cancel the humiliating treaty. Xianfeng sent Mongol general Sengge Rinchen with large army composed of Han, Manchu and Mongols to strengthen Dagu fort. In June 1859 they attacked sailing British and French ships on which were envoys on road to Beijing supposed to enter new embassies. British, French and US navies were bombarding fort Dagu and launching landings but were unsuccessful. They were severely defeated and British army felt humiliated after defeat by weaker force for them. After Chinese victory at Dagu Xianfeng cancelled Tianjin treaty. Already in 1860 large scale British, French and US invasion started on Dagu. In third battle of Dagu Chinese forces were defeated because foreigners brought more troops this time and used very advanced cannons. Brits finally surpassed rebellion in India so could deploy more troops against China. Dagu was taken and Tianjin and forces proceeded towards Beijing. At that time in August 1860 Chinese authorities sent delegation to Tianjin to British envoy but he rejected them. Also British forces kidnapped prefect of Tianjin. Chinese forces than captured Parks a British envoy and severely tortured and killed some members of his delegation. This caused even bigger British outrage.
A 10 000 Chinese army was defending Beijing on a canal from coming forces from direction of Tianjin. In september 1860 battle of Baliqiao bridge occurred in which Chinese forces were severely destroyed by advanced Franco British cannons. Franco British troops entered Beijing in October 1860 and entered Forbidden City. Before that Emperor Xianfeng escaped to Chengde Resorts 300km from Beijing and left Prince Gong to negotiate. British and French were considering how to crackdown Chinese self-confidence and punish for resistance. Despite release of Parks they did not want to give up idea and deeply defeat China culturally. First they thought to burn Forbidden City but realized that it may delay negotiations so they turned against Summer Palaces. French troops entered Yuanmingyuan and looted everything precious. A day after British troops burned Yuanmingyuan, almost all pavilions, villas and European Mansion. Looting and destruction of Yuanmingyuan is considered as one of most humiliating experiences for China in its history and one of most hypocritical and barbaric deeds of British and French. For Chinese it meant that they have lost superiority in world and respect towards their culture from side of foreigners. It proved that their culture is destroyable and not valued by those who invade them. It showed that they are not number one in terms of power and despite rich culture they are not respected and that invaders will use all means to put them down. For foreigner invaders it meant to put China down and show China that it is not superior or in position to resist anymore. Simply it was most hypocritical and vandal way of showing power by destroying cultural objects.They knew that China will fall if they use such coercive and destructive method. It is hypocritic because UK, France presented themselves as civilized superior nations while they considered China as barbarian one. They saw themselves as civilized, superior and advanced but behaved barbarically by destroying achievements of others. Even more shameful is looting and taking precious items from palaces and by this way they appeared to be more barbaric than those who they called barbaric. Some European scholars of that time condemned behavior of Britain and France. Famous French 19th century poet Victor Hugo severely condemned this action and called Britain and France ordinary thieves. Today still this topic stays in memory of Chinese people as humiliation and a thing that Britain and France try not to speak. Some items have been returned to China by end of 20th century and few still not. Quite big damage experienced Yiheyuan palace too( Summer Palace) too.
Consequences of Opium Wars
After this China decided to confirm previous Tianjin Treaty. Prince Gong signed so called Peking Convention which was confirming Treaty of Tianjin and giving up to Russia both banks of Amur and additional 350 000 square miles of Manchuria to Russia . Russia forced China to give up this territories as Russia promised it will persuade Anglo-French troops to leave Beijing if China does so. So it happened. Also Tianjin treaty included leasing to Britain Kowloon peninsula in addition to Hong Kong territories.
Sovereignty, respect and power of China severely dropped after Second Opium War. It became a country that did not have control of its own affairs and territory in full scale. Foreign merchants could move freely to sell opium everywhere. Missionaries could move freely to spread Christianity and they often misbehaved and humiliated Chinese religions and beliefs. Chinese officials could not restrict their movement or behavior since it was pushed to guarantee immunity for them in front of Chinese law.
Corruption, unrests, disagreement among conservative and more open minded officials about reforms, aversion towards foreigners, poverty, opium addiction were everyday life of post 1860 China. Ceremonies of worshipping Heaven were not so confident like before and more and more people started suspecting in Mandate of Heaven not only for Qing dynasty but as a concept. Many questions about power of China appeared as in Second Opium War despite 200 000 soldiers China was defeated by 14 000 British and 7000 French soldiers. They realized that quality is more important than quantity. Attempts of cooperation with foreigners, industrialization, restructuring of state institutions and modernization of army started in second half of 19th century. They established for the first time Ministry of foreign affairs for better foreign cooperation. More about this reforms will be in next part about internal and social affairs. Problem was here that reforms could not be speeded due to lack fo money, different stances among key figures and suspecting of people about innovations from abroad. More about it will be later in next part.
Thanks to few modernized army groups and partial industrialized areas and more willingness to cooperate China more or less avoided foreign pressure for some time and prevented complete colonization. Margary crisis of 1874 when British diplomat Margary and his 4 Chinese servants were killed by villagers. By treaty from 1876 in Chefoo where China bind itself to punish perpetrators of crime and reduce taxes for British merchants. In some areas French and British forces and companies gave some help by employing people and by supporting industrialization and modernizing army.
First Sino-French War
Between 1882 and 1885 Sino French war occurred over Vietnam. Vietnam was still tributary vassal of China while France was capturing and colonizing its southern areas. Therefore Chinese sent troops to North Vietnam. Li Hongzhang a Chinese diplomat offered joint control of northern Vietnam but French rejected and Chinese entered battle with French. They were defeated and forced to sign a treaty to allow France full control of Vietnam and as compromise China does not have to pay reparations. But already in 1884 Chinese court rejected treaty and launched offensive in Tonkin. On land China was defeating France and bringing it a big casualties but on sea at battle of Fuzhou Chinese navy was defeated. Russia and Japan threatened China to stop war with France and accept treaty so China had to do that. France and China dealt in Paris in 1885 about restoring previous treaty. It was signed in Tianjin same year. This event showed that China maintained more or less better position than in previous period since it found that it must cooperate more in order to achieve compromise and avoid more damage from still more powerful rivals. China also strengthened position and won few battles thanks to partially modernized army.Also rivals saw that China cant be fully colonized and therefore they must make compromises too. Example except this one is St. Peterburg’s Treaty of 1881 when Russia returned some parts of Xinjiang taken by Russia during Dungan revolt. But still China had to pay reparations and accept expanding of consular network of Russia. About it will be in next part since it is issue of internal affairs more.
Still weak China was used by Portugal when demanded to prolong lease of Macau. It happened in 1887.
First Sino-Japanese War
After losing protectorate over Vietnam stayed Korea a last Chinese protectorate. But imperial Japan saw Korea as a good spot to strengthen its influence. Japan after successful Emperor Meiji industrial reforms and army modernization got so many ambitions in strengthening its power beyond own islands. Taking Korea over from China was great opportunity since China was too weak. China did not want to lose Korea at all costs since it was its last vassal out if Chinese territories with significant importance. China felt confident thanks to modernized army while Japan felt confident with rise of national pride and ambitions to be mighty imperialist state. Korea was divided between pro Chinese King of Joseon dynasty and some pro modernization elite which was for cooperation with Japan. In 1884 pro Japanese reformists tried to overthrow king but Chinese troops commanded by Yuan Shikai saved king. That year Li-Ito Convention was signed which agreed for both troops to withdraw from Korea. But in 1894 Japan was not ready for compromise anymore. Kim Ok Kyun a pro Japanese Korean was assassinated in Shanghai by Chinese agents and his body was sent back to Korea to scare rebels. At that moment Korean king invited Chinese troops to help him deal with rebellion. Japanese saw this as breach of Li-Ito Convention and sent troops to Korea and bombed Chinese fleet. War officially started in August 1894. Even Western officials predicted Chinese victory since army was much larger as Chinese participated with 600 000 soldiers while Japanese with 250 000. But Japanese troops were more confident and better equipped since they had faster modernization and did ont have so much internal problems like China. Near Korean coast battle of Pungdo occurred in which Chinese ships were sunk. First major land battle was at Seongwan in Korea also in summer 1894 where Chinese troops were defeated. In september Japanese forces attacked Pyongyang and expelled Chinese troops from that city. After this defeat Chinese started withdrawal from Korea. Soon occurred naval Battle at Yalu river near its flow in Yellow Sea where Chinese fleet was severely defeated. In October 1894 Battle of Jiuliancheng occurred when Japanese troops attacked Chinese forces at Sino-Korean border and defeated them again. Japanese forces entered China. Next battle was at Lushunkou( later known as Port Arthur and todays Dalian) where Japanese forces won again captured town and massacred 20 000 soldiers and civilians. This event is known as Port Arthur Massacre and one of first massacres that Japanese committed in China. When they captured areas of Manchuria by beginning of 1895 Japan launched invasion on Shandong province by sea and clashed with Chinese navy at Weihaiwai and defeated it. After that Prince Gong abolished Admirality Board since its fleet was destroyed completely. At beginning of 1895 at Yingkou in Manchuria Chinese were defeated again. Japanese troops were approaching Beijing and Chinese court asked for peace. In April 1895 Shimonoseki Treaty was signed. Its provisions were: 1) China recognizes full independence of Korea, 2) China fully gives up Pescadores islands, Taiwan and Liaodong peninsula with full property, weaponry and forts of that area., 3) 200 000 0000 of taels China must pay and 4) Shashi, Chongqing, Suzhou and Hangzhou opened for fully free trade with Japan and granting extraterritoriality for Japanese citizens in China.
In sum this defeat was one of biggest humiliations of China since China always considered Japan as less powerful and less culturally developed country as China saw itself as main power in Asia. China lost its last tributary state Korea. Even more confidence of China fell and confidence of reforms fell down. It was obviously that Japan would impose own trade aims. Also it was obvious that Japan becomes dominant imperialistic power in Asia what caused concern of some states. While Britain was ally of Japan but also of Russia and France of that time Russia when it comes to European affairs Britain was not concerned with rise of Japan. Russia, France a rivals of Germany in Europe agreed together to intervene against Japan. Under a threat of war they demanded from Japan to return back Liaodong peninsula to China and asked China to pay 30 000 000 additional taels. Russia needed Port Arthur as it wanted to strengthen its position in Far East and wanted to expand rail from Harbin to Port Arthur.It was supposed to be part of TransSiberian rail.Russia asked China to lease Liaodong under justification to protect it from Japan but de facto it was Russian occupation of these territories. Also Germany, France and UK in next few years asked China to lease some more territories in order to use opportunity of already weakened China. In 1898 Germany leased Qingdao and Weihai and some more territories of Shandong province. Guangzhouwan was taken by France also in 1898. In 1898 Britain and China signed Convention on extension of lease of Hong Kong territories+Kowloon and some more territories around Hong Kong. All lease treaties were supposed to be binding for 99 years. Intervention and revision of Sino-Japanese treaty angered Japanese and their nationalism and imperialism rose even more. In 1905 they occupied Korea wholly and aimed to challenge Russian interests in Manchuria what caused their war. Before complete occupation of Korea it was manipulated by Japan and had to open ports for free trade under Japanese provisions. Mostly active against Japanese forces was Beiyang army.
Special situation occurred on Taiwan. Leadership of Taiwanese representatives of Qing government rejected to give up to Japanese rule and proclaimed own republic. Republic was known as Republic of Formosa or Democratic State of Taiwan. It was one of first republics in Asia. Parliament, government and ministries were established. President was Tang Ching Sung and Commander of Army Liu Yung Fu. They declared they will later fight until death than fall in Japanese hands. Their 75 000 thousand army was fighting for several months but after battle at Taian they were severely defeated and soon island fell completely in Japanese hands. This events were roots of todays disputes about Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan with self-proclaimed and unrecognized authorities on todays Taiwan and dispute between China and Japan over Diaoyou islands which were Chinese until 1895.
Shortly China after Sino-Japanese war lost its power even more and it was proved that its modrnization efforts were too small. Also China fell even more and was almost colonized by foreign powers.
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