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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.
The Treaty of Nanjing signed in 1842, after China’s defeat in the Opium War, fundamentally altered the structure of Qing relations with the Western powers. Hong Kong was ceded to the British and the Canton trading system was abolished, with five Chinese cities, Canton, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Ningpo and Shanghai, opened to British merchants. Consulates were also allowed to be opened in these cities, which were known as treaty ports. In addition, the Qing government had to pay 6 million taels of silver as compensation for the opium destroyed in 1839 by Lin Ze Xu and a further 12 million taels for the military expenses incurred by the British. The crucial clause of the “most favoured nation” was also included in the 1843 supplement - any new concessions offered by the Qing to other foreign countries must also be given to the British. This prevented the Qing government from playing off one foreign power against another. The signing of the treaty saw the beginning of a series of unequal treaties which were imposed by the Western powers on China, further weakening the Qing regime.
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