- Second Opium War
Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Second Opium War
caption=Upper North Taku Fort in 1860.
casus=Chinese boarding of British-registered ship the "Arrow"
Treaties of Tianjin
flagicon|France French Empire
James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin
Jean-Baptiste Louis Gros
Auguste Léopold Protet
Opium War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, [Michel Vié, "Histoire du Japon des origines a Meiji", PUF, p.99. ISBN 2130528937] was a war of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandand the Second French Empireagainst the Qing Dynastyof Chinafrom 1856 to 1860.
"Second Opium War" is the term most popular in the
PRC. It shows the continuation of a historical process of China's colonisation according to the Marxist view (which played the decisive role in the picking of the name, while being not quite objective). The importance of the opium factor in the war is disputed, so many historians prefer the other terms. The "Arrow War" refers to the name of a vessel which became the starting point of the conflict.
The 1850s saw the rapid growth of
imperialism. Some of the shared goals of the western powers were the expansion of their overseas markets and the establishment of new ports of call. The French Treaty of Huangpuand the American Wangxia Treaty both contained clauses allowing renegotiation of the treaties after twelve years. In an effort to expand their privileges in China, Britain demanded the Qing authorities renegotiate the Treaty of Nanjing(signed in 1842), citing their most favoured nationstatus. The British demands included opening all of China to British merchants, legalizing the opium trade, exempting foreign imports from internal transit duties, suppression of piracy, regulation of the coolietrade, permission for a British ambassador to reside in Beijingand for the English-language version of all treaties to take precedence over the Chinese.
Qing Dynastycourt rejected the demands from Britain, France, and the US.
On 8 October 1856 Qing officials boarded the "Arrow", a Chinese-owned ship (a lorcha) that had been registered in
Hong Kongand was suspected of piracyand smuggling. Twelve Chinese subjects were arrested and imprisoned. The British officials in Guangzhoudemanded the release of the sailors, claiming that because the ship had recently been British-registered, it was protected under the Treaty of Nanjing. Only when this was shown to be a weak argument did the British insist that the "Arrow" had been flying a British ensignand that the Qing soldiers had insulted the flag. As China insisted that it did not hang out the national flag at that time, negotiations eventually broke down. In fact, the registration of the nationality of the "Arrow" already had the time limit hence she did not have the right to fly the colours of the Crown at this time, and her crew's arrest by the Qing authorities was lawful in any case. Faced with fighting the Taiping Rebellion, the Qing government was in no position to resist the West militarily. This came to be known as the "Arrow" Incident. [Tsai, Jung-fang.  (1995). Hong Kong in Chinese History: community and social unrest in the British Colony, 1842–1913. ISBN 0231079338]
Although the British were delayed by the
Indian Mutiny, they responded to the "Arrow" Incident in 1857 and attacked Guangzhou from the Pearl River. Ye Mingchen, the governor of Guangdongand Guangxiprovinces, ordered all Chinese soldiers manning the forts not to resist the British incursion. After taking the fort near Guangzhou with little effort, the British Army attacked Guangzhou.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, there was an attempt to poison the entire European community in January. However, local bakers, who had been charged with lacing bread with
arsenicbungled the attempt by putting an excess of the poison into the dough, in sufficient quantities to be detected. Criers were sent out with an alert, averting disaster. [John Thomson 1837–1921, [http://irc.aa.tufs.ac.jp/thomson/vol_1/mother/102.html Chap on Hong Kong] , Illustrations of China and Its People (London,1873-1874)]
The new parliament decided to seek redress from China based on the report about the "Arrow" Incident submitted by
Harry Parkes, British Consul to Guangzhou. France, the USA, and Russiareceived requests from Britain to form an alliance.
France joined the British action against China, prompted by the execution of a French
missionary, Father August Chapdelaine("Father Chapdelaine Incident"), by Chinese local authorities in Guangxi province. ["Religion Under Socialism in China" by Zhufeng Luo, Chu-feng Lo, Luo Zhufeng p.42: "France started the second Opium War under the pretext of the "Father Chapdelaine Incident." [http://books.google.com/books?id=cEfiZlUpI5oC&pg=PA42&dq=Chapdelaine+Incident&sig=ACfU3U3db79rYMbZPmvLXmQcniKmw4T9JA] ] ["Taiwan in Modern Times" by Paul Kwang Tsien Sih p.105: "The two incidents that eventually caused a war were the Arrow incident and the murder of the French Catholic priest, Abbe Auguste Chapdelaine"] ["A History of Christian Missions in China" p.273by Kenneth Scott Latourette: "A casus belli was found in an unfortunate incident which had occurred before the Arrow affair, the judicial murder of a French priest, Auguste Chapdelaine" [http://books.google.com/books?id=stdJAAAAMAAJ&q=Chapdelaine+Incident&dq=Chapdelaine+Incident&pgis=1] ]
The USA and Russia sent envoys to Hong Kong to offer help to the British and French, though in the end they sent no military aid.
The British and the French joined forces under Admiral Sir
Michael Seymour. The British army led by Lord Elgin, and the French army led by Gros, attacked and occupied Guangzhou in late 1857. Ye Mingchen was captured, and Bo-gui, the governor of Guangdong, surrendered. A joint committee of the Alliance was formed. Bo-gui remained at his original post in order to maintain order on behalf of the victors. The British-French Alliance maintained control of Guangzhou for nearly four years. Ye Mingchen was exiled to Calcutta, India, where he starved himself to death.
The coalition then cruised north to briefly capture the
Taku Fortsnear Tianjinin May, 1858.
Treaties of Tianjin
In June 1858 the first part of the war ended with the
Treaties of Tianjin, to which France, Russia, and the United Stateswere parties. These treaties opened eleven more ports to Western trade. The Chinese initially refused to ratify the treaties.
The major points of the treaty were:
# Britain, France, Russia, and the United States would have the right to establish diplomatic
legations (small embassies) in Peking(a closed city at the time)
# Ten more Chinese ports would be opened for foreign trade, including
Niuzhuang, Danshui, Hankou, and Nanjing
# The right of all foreign vessels including commercial ships to navigate freely on the
# The right of foreigners to travel in the internal regions of China, which had been formerly banned
# China was to pay an indemnity to Britain and France in 2 million
taels of silver each
# China was to pay compensation to British merchants in 2 million taels of silver for destruction of their property
Treaty of Aigun
On 28 May 1858, the separate
Treaty of Aigunwas signed with Russia to revise the Chinese and Russian border as determined by the Nerchinsk Treatyin 1689. Russia gained the left bank of the Amur River, pushing the border back from the Argun River. The treaty gave Russia control over a non-freezing area on the Pacific coast, where Russia founded the city of Vladivostokin 1860.
Continuation of the war
In June 1858, shortly after the Qing Court agreed to the disadvantageous treaties, more hawkish ministers prevailed upon the Xianfeng Emperor to resist encroachment by the West. On 2 June 1858, the Xianfeng Emperor ordered the Mongolian general
Sengge Rinchento guard the Dagu Fort in Tianjin. Sengge Richen reinforced the Dagu Forts with added artillery. He also brought 4,000 Mongolian cavalry from Chahar and Suiyuan.
In June, 1859, a British naval force with 2,200 troops and 21 ships, under the command of Admiral Sir
James Hopesailed north from Shanghai to Tianjinwith newly-appointed Anglo-French envoys for the embassies in Beijing. They sailed to the mouth of the Hai Riverguarded by the Dagu Fort near Tianjin and demanded to continue inland to Beijing. Sengge Rinchen replied that the Anglo-French envoys may land up the coast at Beitang and proceed to Beijing but refused to allow armed troops to accompany them to the Chinese capital. The Anglo-French forces insisted on landing at Dagu instead of Beitang and escorting the envoy to Beijing. On the night of 24 June 1859, a small batch of British forces blew up iron obstacles that the Chinese had placed in the Baihe River. The next day, the British forces sought to forcibly sail into the river, and shelled Dagu Fort. They encountered fierce resistance from Sengge Rinchen's positions. After one day and one night's fighting, four gunboats were lost and two others severely damaged. The convoy withdrew under the cover of fire from a naval squadron commanded by Commodore Josiah Tattnall. Tattnall's intervention violated U.S. neutrality in China. For a time, anti-foreign resistance reached a crescendo within the Qing Court.
In the summer of 1860, a larger Anglo-French force (11,000 British under General
James Hope Grant, 6,700 French under General Cousin-Montauban) [Encyclopedie Larousse Illustree, 1898, Cousin-Montuaban article] [Le Figaro, Hors-Serie "Pekin", Feb. 2008] with 173 ships sailed from Hong Kong and captured the port cities of Yantaiand Dalianto seal the Bohai Gulf. Then they carried out a landing near at Bei Tang(also spelled Pei Tang), some km to mi|3|spell=UK from the Dagu Fort on 3 August, which they captured after three weeks' on 21 August. After taking Tienstin on 3 August, the Anglo-French forces marched inland toward Beijing. The Xianfeng Emperor then dispatched ministers to for peace talks, but relations broke down completely when a British diplomatic envoy, Harry Parkes, was arrested during negotiations on 18 September. He and his small entourage were imprisoned and tortured (some were murdered by the Chinese in a fashion that infuriated British leadership upon discovery in October). The Anglo-French invasion clashed with Sengge Rinchen's Mongolian cavalry on 18 September near Zhangjiawan before proceeding toward the outskirts of Beijing for a decisive battle in Tongzhou District.
On 21 September, at the
Battle of Palikao, Sengge Rinchen's 10,000 troops including elite Mongolian cavalry were completely annihilated after several doomed frontal charges against concentrated firepower of the Anglo-French forces, which entered Beijing on 6 October.
Burning of the Summer Palaces
With the Qing army devastated, Emperor Xianfeng fled the capital, leaving his brother, Prince Gong, to be in charge of negotiations. Xianfeng first fled to the
Chengde Summer Palaceand then to Jehol in Manchuria."The Rise of Modern China", Immanual Hsu, 1985, pg. 215.] Anglo-French troops in Beijing began looting the New Summer Palace (Yihe Yuan) and Old Summer Palace(Yuan Ming Yuan) immediately (it was full of valuable artwork). After Parkes and the surviving diplomatic prisoners were freed, Lord Elgin ordered the Summer Palaces destroyed starting on 18 October. Beijing was not occupied; the Anglo-French army remained outside the city.
The destruction of the
Forbidden Citywas discussed, as proposed by Lord Elgin to discourage the Chinese from using kidnapping as a bargaining tool, and to exact revenge on the mistreatment of their prisoners.Endacott, George Beer. Carroll, John M.  (2005). A Biographical Sketch-book of Early Hong Kong. HK University press. ISBN 9622097421] Elgin's decision was further motivated by the torture and murder of almost twenty Western prisoners, including two British envoys and a journalist for " The Times". The Russian envoy Count Ignatiev and the French diplomat Baron Gros settled on the burning of the Summer Palaces instead, since it was "least objectionable" and would not jeopardize the treaty signing.
Chinese historians Who|date=August 2007 have argued that the destruction was a cover-up for widespread looting. That the Summer Palaces was looted before being destroyed is certain but it is not surprising. Elgin was acutely sensitive to the charge of looting Fact|date=August 2007, as it was his own father, Thomas Bruce (1776–1841), who, from 1799 to 1803, removed from the
Acropolisin Greece what are now known as the Elgin Marblesto Britain, where they remain to this day, a subject of rancor between the Greek and British governments.
After the Xianfeng emperor and his entourage fled Beijing, the June 1858 Treaty of Tianjin was finally ratified by the emperor's brother, Yixin, the
Prince Gong, in the Convention of Pekingon 18 October 1860, bringing The Second Opium War to an end.
The British, French and - thanks to the schemes of Ignatiev - the Russians were all granted a permanent diplomatic presence in Beijing (something the Qing resisted to the very end as it suggested equality between China and the European powers). The Chinese had to pay 8 million taels to Britain and France. Britain acquired Kowloon (next to Hong Kong). The opium trade was legalized and Christians were granted full
civil rights, including the right to own property, and the right to evangelize.
The content of the Convention of Peking included:
# China's recognition of the validity of the Treaty of Tianjin
# Opening Tianjin as a trade port
# Cede No.1 District of
Kowloon(south of present day Boundary Street) to Britain
# Freedom of religion established in China
# British ships were allowed to carry indentured Chinese to the Americas
# Indemnity to Britain and France increasing to 8 million taels of silver a piece
# Legalization of the opium trade
Two weeks later, Ignatiev convinced the Manchu to sign a "Supplementary Treaty of Peking", in which the Manchu signed away some 300,000 to 400,000 square miles (777,000–1,036,000 km²) of land to the Russians. The defeat of the Imperial army by a small Anglo-French military force (outnumbered at least 10 to 1 by the Manchu army) coupled with the flight (and subsequent death) of the Emperor and the burning of the Summer Palace was a shocking blow to the once powerful Qing Dynasty. "Beyond a doubt, by 1860 the ancient civilization that was China had been thoroughly defeated and humiliated by the West." [
Immanuel C.Y. Hsu"The Rise of Modern China", 6th ed., Oxford University Press, 2000: 219.]
Footnotes and references
* Jack Beeching, "The Chinese Opium Wars" (1975), ISBN 0-15-617094-9
* Bonner-Smith and E. Lumley, "The Second China War", 1944.
* W. Travis Hanes III and Frank Sanello, "The Opium Wars", 2002, ISBN 0-7607-7638-5
* Immanual Hsu, "The Rise of Modern China", 1985.
* Henry Loch, "Personal narrative of occurrences during Lord Elgin's second embassy to China 1860", 1869.
* Erik Ringmar, [http://ringmar.net/europeanfury/ "Fury of the Europeans: Liberal Barbarism and the Destruction of the Emperor's Summer Palace"]
* J.W. Wong, "Deadly Dreams: Opium, Imperialism, and the Arrow War (1856-1860) in China", (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 1998.
The Second Opium War in popular media
* cite book
first = George MacDonald
last = Fraser
year = 1986
Flashman and the Dragon
publisher = Knopf
location = New York, NY
id = ISBN 0-394-55357-8 — A portion of the memoirs of the fictional
Harry Paget Flashmanrecounting his adventures during the Second Opium War and Taiping Rebellion.
Imperialism in Asia
Charles George Gordon
British military history
Taku Forts#Second Opium War
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