How did the Treaty of Nanjing affect China?

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The Treaty of Nanjing was extremely important in Chinese history. First of all, it ended the First Opium War (1839–1842) between China and Britain. In addition, it marked the beginning of a series of humiliating "unequal treaties" that were forced upon China during subsequent decades. In fact, China's "unequal" treatment...

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The Treaty of Nanjing was extremely important in Chinese history. First of all, it ended the First Opium War (1839–1842) between China and Britain. In addition, it marked the beginning of a series of humiliating "unequal treaties" that were forced upon China during subsequent decades. In fact, China's "unequal" treatment at the hands of the West and Japan did not really come to an end until the Communists seized control of the country in 1949.

Opium had caused the war between Britain and China. Although the opium trade was illegal in Britain, London insisted on its right to sell the drug in China. This caused a widespread addiction in China, so the Chinese government attempted to halt the trade. Supplies of the drug were destroyed by the Chinese at Canton, and Britain retaliated by launching a full-scale war. After China's defeat, Britain continued and even expanded its sale of the drug in China. Britain's forced sale of opium to China was morally reprehensible.

Other provisions of the Treaty of Nanjing were harsh, too. The treaty opened five Chinese cities to British trade. Hong Kong was ceded to Britain. China had to pay reparations. The United States and France demanded and negotiated "unequal" treaties of their own within a few years.

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The Treaty of Nanjing and the following supplementary Treaty of the Bogue had profound effects on China. Most significantly, the treaty put an end to the Canton System which China had previously imposed to control trade with foreign nations. This previous system restricted nearly all foreign trade to the port of Canton. With the treaty, foreign merchants were permitted to conduct their business freely over great swaths of the country. Furthermore, the treaty imposed fixed tariff rates that greatly favored British merchants at the expense of the Chinese. This tariff, in particular, resulted in a decline in local Chinese manufacturing as cheap foreign goods began flooding into the country.

The Treaty of Nanjing also established extraterritorial zones within China in which British merchants would not be subject to local laws and courts. The Chinese also lost Hong Kong to the British, who established it as a colony of the English Crown.

The Treaty of Nanjing was a major humiliation to the Chinese. It was one of several "unequal treaties" that China signed during this period. This, and other treaties like it, helped to erode confidence in the Qing Dynasty. It fostered a high level of resentment of Western powers and fueled a movement in Chinese nationalism that eventually culminated in the overthrow of the imperial system in 1927.

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The Treaty of Nanjing stemmed from the First Opium War between Britain and China, which the latter lost. The Opium War began when the Chinese government destroyed thousands of barrels of opium that belonged to British merchants.

The treaty had various effects on China. For instance, China was indebted to Britain and had to pay for the lost opium. For this reason, the Chinese government paid Britain a total of $21 million as compensation. In addition, Hong Kong ended up becoming Britain’s colony under the rule of Queen Victoria. Moreover, China agreed to give Britain extraterritoriality. Also, China had to give five treaty ports, including Shanghai and Canton, to the British and had to allow them to trade and live there.

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The impact of the Treaty of Nanjing was very much like the impact of the Opium War, since the Treaty of Nanjing came out of the Opium War.

In this treaty, the British were given Hong Kong, as well as free access to five ports.  In these five ports, the British residents had the right of extraterritoriality.  That is, they were not subject to Chinese law.

In immediate terms, these were not all that important.  However, they represented the beginning of a series of humiliating episodes in which the Chinese were forced to open up more and more to the West.

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