When were the Opium Wars?

The Manchus ruled China for more than 250 years, from 1644 until 1912. This time is known as the Qing dynasty. In the early 1800’s, British merchants started to trade opium illegally from India to China. Despite the fact that the additive dangers of opium were well known, the British government backed the merchants. They wanted to force China to accept more open trade.

The first Opium War broke out in 1839, and was started when Chinese officials seized 20,000 chests of opium in Guangzhou. It ended with the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. Under the terms of this treaty, Hong Kong became a British colony and more Chinese ports were opened up to European trade. A second Opium War (1856 to 1860) extended the trading rights of European nations in China. Under Manchu rule, all Chinese males had to follow the tradition of wearing their hair in a pigtail. It was seen as a sign of loyalty to the Qing dynasty.

Fact File:

The skyline of modern Hong Kong. The island of Hong Kong came under British control in 1842, and Britain later gained part of the nearby Kowloon Peninsula. Control of Hong Kong passed back to the Chinese government in 1997.


Picture Credit : Google