happening in her country. This letter is significant because it was a first attempt to bridge the gap of understanding between Britain and China. The language used portrayed China and Britain as equals and was a peaceful attempt to cease the opium crisis from continuing. However, historiansbelieve it is possible that Queen Victoria never received the letter, hence the problem persisted. For four years, Britain continued to destroy the Chinese coast, and in 1841, assumed control of Nanjing. After this, China had no choice but to agree to the Treaty of Nanjing the following year. 14Lin Zexu, “Letter to Queen Victoria” Source 13.0 - Lin.pdf.
The Treaty of Nanjing was a “peace agreement” constructed by British in order to create a stable relationship between the governments and the people of Britain and China. It covered both social and economic disputes, but certain articles ensured that Britain would receive major economic benefits. For example, Article IV states that “the Emperor of China agrees to pay the sum of Six Million dollars as the value of Opium which was delivered up at Canton in the monthof March 1839”15. Most articles included clauses in which China were to pay Britain money for opium, or release prisoners who clearly violated the Chinese law. The Treaty only benefit the British, however, it was the only way in which China officials knew they could stop the destruction happening within their country. They signed the Treaty, and kept the a relatively civil relationship with Britain, until the Second Opium War. The Second Opium War The Second Opium War took place in 1857 and started for very similar reasons as the first, the Chinese had not allowed Britain access to the city of Canton. With the Treaty of Nanjing in effect, China had allowed for trade to take place outside of the city walls but had no intention of allowing them in through the main port. One day, a Chinese police officer boarded a British boat which had been improperly registered. They took twelve citizens into custody as well as three well-known pirates hired by British merchants. The British official on duty demanded a written apology, but after China refused, the British began attacks on Canton Harbor. Similar to the first Opium war, the military technology hosted by the British was too forceful for China’s military. The battle was Britain and France vs. China, with the European side15“The Treaty of Nanjing (Nanking), 1842” Article IV,
hosting 3,500 people against China’s 20,000. Even though China had more people, the Europeans had, “cavalry, disciplined professional soldiers, and the new breach loading Enfield rifles” against the Chinese who used bows and arrows16. Eventually, Britain was able to take overCanton as well as Peking, where the Summer Palace was located. After four years of this war, Britain made it so China was forced into another series of unequal treaties. This time, they were forced to enter into a free trade agreement with Britain and had to succumb to Western influence - this was strongly outlined in the Treaty of Tianjin.