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 Qing Empires of
The treaties forced China to lower its
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 Nanjing.
29 August 1842, British representative Sir Henry Pottinger
, Ilibu and Niujian,
signed the Treaty of Nanjing. The treaty consisted of thirteen
articles and was ratified by Queen Victoria
nine months later.
As one historian notes, a "most ironic point was that opium, the
immediate cause of the war, was not even mentioned.
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 Factories on foreign trade (Article V) in Canton and instead
five ports were opened for trade,
Canton (Shameen Island until 1949), Amoy (Xiamen until 1930),
Foochow (Fuzhou), Ningpo
(Ningbo) and Shanghai (until 1949),
where Britons were to be allowed to trade with anyone they
Britain also gained the right to send consuls to the
, 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
government 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
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
The British on their part, undertook to withdraw all of their
troops from Nanjing and the Grand
after the emperor had given his assent to the treaty and
the first installment of money had been received (Article XII).
troops would remain in Gulangyu and
Zhoushan until the
Qing government had paid reparations in full (Article
Cession of Hong Kong
The Qing government agreed make the island of Hong Kong
, 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.
the colony was extended with the Kowloon 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 Kingdom and the People's Republic of China (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
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
Tigris 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
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
China concluded after the Second Opium
The Nanking Treaty ended the old Canton
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.
- 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.
- TÃªng Ssu-yÃ¼. 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.