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The Treaty of Nanking or Treaty of Nanjing, signed 29 August 1842, was the unequal treaty which marked the end of the First Opium War between the British and Qingmarker Empires of 1839–42. The treaties forced China to lower its tariffs.

In the wake of China's military defeat, with British warships poised to attack the city, representatives from the British and Qing Empires negotiated aboard HMS Cornwallis anchored at Nanjingmarker. On 29 August 1842, British representative Sir Henry Pottinger and Qing representatives, Qiying, Ilibu and Niujian, signed the Treaty of Nanjing. The treaty consisted of thirteen articles and was ratified by Queen Victoria and the Daoguang Emperor nine months later. As one historian notes, a "most ironic point was that opium, the immediate cause of the war, was not even mentioned.

Terms

Foreign trade

The fundamental purpose of the treaty was to change the framework of foreign trade which had been in force since 1760 (Canton System). The treaty abolished the monopoly of the Thirteen Factoriesmarker on foreign trade (Article V) in Canton and instead five ports were opened for trade, Cantonmarker (Shameen Islandmarker until 1949), Amoy (Xiamenmarker until 1930), Foochow (Fuzhoumarker), Ningpo (Ningbomarker) and Shanghai (until 1949), 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 (Article II). 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 (Article X).

Reparations and demobilization

The Qing governmentmarker was obliged to pay the British government six million silver dollars for the opium that had been confiscated by Lin Zexu in 1839 (Article IV), 3 million dollars in compensation for debts that the Hong merchants in Canton owed British merchants (Article V), and a further 12 million dollars in compensation for the cost of the war (VI). 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 percent for the money that was not paid in a timely manner (Article VII).

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

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 (Article XII). British troops would remain in Gulangyu and Zhoushanmarker until the Qing government had paid reparations in full (Article XII).

Cession of Hong Kong

The Qing government agreed make the island of Hong Kong a crown colony, ceding it to the British Queen "in perpetuity" in order to provide British traders with a harbour where they could unload their goods (Article III). Pottinger was later appointed the first governor of Hong Kong.

In 1860, the colony was extended with the Kowloonmarker peninsula and in 1898, the Second Convention of Peking further expanded the colony with the 99 year lease of the New Territories. In 1984, the governments of the United Kingdommarker and the People's Republic of Chinamarker (PRC) concluded the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong, under which the sovereignty of the leased territories, together with Hong Kong Island and Kowloon (south of Boundary Street) ceded under the Convention of Peking (1860), was scheduled to transfer to the PRC on 1 July 1997.

Aftermath and legacy

Since the Treaty of Nanjing was brief and with only general stipulations, the British and Chinese representatives agreed that a supplementary treaty be concluded in order to work out more detailed regulations for relations. On 3 October 1843, the supplementary Treaty of the Bogue was concluded at Bocca Tigrismarker outside Canton.

Nevertheless, the treaties of 1842-3 left several unsettled issues. In particular it did not resolve the status of the opium trade. Although the American treaty of 1844 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.

The Nanking Treaty ended the old Canton System and created a new framework for China's foreign relations and overseas trade which would last for almost a hundred years. Most injurious were the fixed tariff, extraterritoriality, and the most favored nation provisions. These were conceded partly out of expediency and partly because the Qing officials did not yet know of international law or understand the long term consequences. The tariff fixed at 5% was higher than the existing tariff, the concept of extraterritoriality seemed to put the burden on foreigners to police themselves, and most favored nation treatment seemed to set the foreigners one against the others. Although China regained tariff autonomy in the 1920s, extraterritoriality was not formally abolished until 1943.

Notes

References

  • Fairbank, John King. Trade and Diplomacy on the China Coast: The Opening of the Treaty Ports, 1842-1854. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953.
  • Têng Ssu-yü. Chang Hsi and the Treaty of Nanking, 1842. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944.
  • R. Derek Wood, 'The Treaty of Nanking: Form and the Foreign Office, 1842-1843', Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History (London) 24 (May 1996), 181-196.


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