NOTES


A reference to the war of aggression waged against China by colonialist Britain from 1840 to 1842. Beginning at the end of the 18th century, Britain smuggled great quantities of opium into China. This traffic not only subjected the Chinese people to drug addiction but also represented a massive drain on the country's silver reserves. Towards the end of 1838 the Qing government sent Lin Zexu as an imperial commissioner to Guangzhou to put a stop to opium-smoking and the opium trade. In June the following year Lin ordered the public burning of more than 1.15 million kilogrammes of opium confiscated from British and American merchants engaged in the illegal traffic. In 1840, under the pretext of protecting its trade with China, Britain launched a war of aggression against China. The Qing government vacillated and compromised. Only the people and some of the Chinese troops rose in resistance. The British troops harassed and invaded the coastal areas of Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces and went on to capture Wusong at the mouth of the Yangtze and other places upriver, posing a direct threat to Nanjing. In August 1842 the Qing government was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Nanjing. From then on China was reduced to a semi-colonial country.