Imperialism In China
Imperialism hit China through the British. China had a trade surplus with Britain prior to the 1800s due to their strict limits on foreign traders. European merchants were restricted to a small area in Southern China where the Chinese sold them silk, porcelain, and tea in exchange for gold and silver. Due to this method Britain had a trade deficit with China. By the late 1700s however, there were developments that would transform China's relations with the Western world. China had entered a period of decline and the Industrial Revolution made the need to expand markets for European goods even greater and at the same time it gave the West superior military power.
Lin Zexu was a Chinese official that wrote a message to Queen Victoria of Britain condemning their practice of sending in Opium to China being fully aware of its harm to people that use and have it banned in their own country and he attempts to cut off Opium trade with Britain.
Opium is a drug that was being traded with China by Britain for Chinese tea and silver. The Chinese were giving Britain a ton of silver for Opium and it ended up disrupting the economy because of people getting addicted to Opium and they just wanted to keep on buying more and more to satisfy their need for the drug.
The Chinese government outlawed Opium and executed Opium drug dealers. They told Britain to stop trading Opium and the British refused and insisted on the right for free trade. In 1839 Chinese warships fought with British merchant ships which triggered the Opium war. The British retaliated with their gunboats loaded with the latest firepower and they quickly beat the Chinese forces and their outdated fighting methods and firepower.
After the British won the Opium war they forced China to sign the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 which had China give Britain a huge indemnity for their losses in the war. It also required China to open up their ports to anyone and let Britain have 5 ports open to them for their right to live by their own rules and for them to be tried in their own courts. Britain also gained the right to Hong Kong. This was only one of the future forced and unfair treaties that oppress China.
The Taiping Rebellion started in 1850 and lasted until 1864 and was the most devastating revolt by peasants in history. The leader of the rebellion, Hong Xiuquan, wanted the well hated Qing dynasty to end. The rebels took control of large parts of China and held out for 14 years. However with the help of regional governors and generals, the government was able to crush the rebellion. The rebellion had almost toppled the Qing dynasty. It had caused the deaths of 20 to 30 million Chinese. During the rebellion, Europeans were able to pressure China and Russia had seized some lands up in the North.