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Treaty of Nanking
Signing of the Treaty of Nanking
Traditional Chinese 南京條約
Simplified Chinese 南京条约

The Treaty of Nanking (also spelt Nanjing in pinyin) was signed on 29 August 1842 to mark the end of the First Opium War (1839–42) between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Qing Dynasty. It was the first of what the Chinese called the unequal treaties because Britain had no obligations in return.[1]

In the wake of China's military defeat, with British warships poised to attack the city, representatives from the British and Qing Empires negotiated aboard HMS Cornwallis anchored at Nanking. On 29 August 1842, British representative Sir Henry Pottinger and Qing representatives, Qiying, Ilibu and Niujian, signed the treaty. It consisted of thirteen articles and was ratified by Queen Victoria and the Daoguang Emperor nine months later.



Foreign trade

The fundamental purpose of the treaty was to change the framework of foreign trade which had been in force since 1760 (Canton System). The treaty abolished the monopoly of the Thirteen Factories on foreign trade (Article V) in Canton and instead five ports were opened for trade, Canton (Shameen Island until 1949), Amoy (Xiamen until 1930), Foochow (Fuzhou), Ningpo (Ningbo) and Shanghai (until 1949), where Britons were to be allowed to trade with anyone they wished. Britain also gained the right to send consuls to the treaty ports, which were given the right to communicate directly with local Chinese officials (Article II). The treaty stipulated that trade in the treaty ports should be subject to fixed tariffs, which were to be agreed upon between the British and the Qing governments (Article X).

Reparations and demobilization

The Qing government was obliged to pay the British government six million silver dollars for the opium that had been confiscated by Lin Zexu in 1839 (Article IV), 3 million dollars in compensation for debts that the Hong merchants in Canton owed British merchants (Article V), and a further 12 million dollars in compensation for the cost of the war (VI). The total sum of 21 million dollars was to be paid in installments over three years and the Qing government would be charged an annual interest rate of 5 percent for the money that was not paid in a timely manner (Article VII).

The Qing government undertook to release all British prisoners of war (Article VIII) and to give a general amnesty to all Chinese subjects who had cooperated with the British during the war (Article IX).

The British on their part, undertook to withdraw all of their troops from Nanking and the Grand Canal after the emperor had given his assent to the treaty and the first installment of money had been received (Article XII). British troops would remain in Gulangyu and Zhoushan until the Qing government had paid reparations in full (Article XII).

Cession of Hong Kong

The Qing government agreed make Hong Kong Island a crown colony, ceding it to the British Queen "in perpetuity" to provide British traders with a harbour where they could unload their goods (Article III). Pottinger was later appointed the first governor of Hong Kong.

In 1860, the colony was extended with the Kowloon peninsula and in 1898, the Second Convention of Peking further expanded the colony with the 99 year lease of the New Territories. In 1984, the governments of the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China (PRC) concluded the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong, under which the sovereignty of the leased territories, together with Hong Kong Island and Kowloon (south of Boundary Street) ceded under the Convention of Peking (1860), was scheduled to transfer to the PRC on 1 July 1997.

Aftermath and legacy

Since the Treaty of Nanking was brief and with only general stipulations, the British and Chinese representatives agreed that a supplementary treaty be concluded in order to work out more detailed regulations for relations. On 3 October 1843, the supplementary Treaty of the Bogue was concluded at Bocca Tigris outside Canton.

Nevertheless, the treaties of 1842–43 left several unsettled issues. In particular it did not resolve the status of the opium trade. Although the American treaty of 1844 explicitly banned Americans from selling opium, the trade continued as both the British and American merchants were only subject to the legal control of their consuls. The opium trade was later legalized in the Treaties of Tianjin, which China concluded after the Second Opium War.

The Nanking Treaty ended the old Canton System and created a new framework for China's foreign relations and overseas trade which would last for almost a hundred years. Most injurious were the fixed tariff, extraterritoriality, and the most favored nation provisions. These were conceded partly out of expediency and partly because the Qing officials did not yet know of international law or understand the long term consequences. The tariff fixed at 5% was higher than the existing tariff, the concept of extraterritoriality seemed to put the burden on foreigners to police themselves, and most favored nation treatment seemed to set the foreigners one against the others. Although China regained tariff autonomy in the 1920s, extraterritoriality was not formally abolished until 1943.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Hoe, Susanna; Roebuck, Derek (1999). The Taking of Hong Kong: Charles and Clara Elliot in China Waters. Routledge. p. 203. ISBN 0700711457.
  2. ^ Hsu, The Rise of Modern China: 190-92.


  • Fairbank, John King. Trade and Diplomacy on the China Coast: The Opening of the Treaty Ports, 1842-1854. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953.
  • Têng Ssu-yü. Chang Hsi and the Treaty of Nanking, 1842. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944.
  • R. Derek Wood, 'The Treaty of Nanking: Form and the Foreign Office, 1842-1843', Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History (London) 24 (May 1996), 181-196.

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

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Treaty of Nanking.
Treaty of Nanking
Nanking, August 29, 1842
Peace Treaty between the Queen of Great Britain and the Emperor of China
Ratifications exchanged at Hongkong, 26th June 1843

HER MAJESTY the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and His Majesty the Emperor of China, being desirous of putting an end to the misunderstandings and consequent hostilities which have arisen between the two countries, have resolved to conclude a Treaty for that purpose, and have therefore named as their Plenipotentiaries, that is to say: Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, HENRY POTTINGER, Bart., a Major General in the Service of the East India Company, etc., etc.; And His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of China, the High Commissioners KEYING, a Member of the Imperial House, a Guardian of the Crown Prince and General of the Garrison of Canton; and ELEPOO, of Imperial Kindred, graciously permitted to wear the insignia of the first rank, and the distinction of Peacock's feather, lately Minister and Governor General etc., and now Lieutenant-General Commanding at Chapoo: Who, after having communicated to each other their respective Full Powers, and found them to be in good and due form, have agreed upon and concluded the following [selected] Articles:

Article I.

There shall henceforward be peace and friendship between Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and His Majesty the Emperor of China, and between their respective subjects, who shall enjoy full security and protection for their persons and property within the dominions of the other.

Article II.

His Majesty the Emperor of China agrees, that British subjects, with their families and establishments, shall be allowed to reside, for the purposes of carrying on their mercantile pursuits, without molestation or restraint, at the cities and towns of Canton, Amoy, Foochowfoo, Ningpo, and Shanghai; and Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, &c., will appoint Superintendents, or Consular officers, to reside at each of the above-named cities or towns, to be the medium of communication between the Chinese authorities and the said merchants, and to see that the just duties and other dues of the Chinese Government, as hereafter provided for, are duly discharged by Her Britannic Majesty's subjects.

Article III.

It being obviously necessary and desirable that British subjects should have some port whereat they may [maintain] and refit their ships when required, and keep stores for that purpose, His Majesty the Emperor of China cedes to Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, &c., the Island of Hong-Kong, to be possessed in perpetuity by Her Britannic Majesty, her heirs and successors, and to be governed by such laws and regulations as Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, &c., shall see fit to direct.

Article IV.

The Emperor of China agrees to pay the sum of Six Millions of dollars, as the value of the opium which was delivered up at Canton in the month of March, 1839, as a ransom for the lives of Her Britannic Majesty's Superintendent and subjects, who had been imprisoned and threatened with death by the Chinese High Officers

Article V.

The Government of China having compelled the British merchants trading at Canton to deal exclusively with certain Chinese merchants, called Hong merchants (or Cohong), who had been licensed by the Chinese Government for that purpose, the Emperor of China agrees to abolish that practice in future at all ports where British merchants may reside, and to permit them to carry on their mercantile transactions with whatever persons they please; and His Imperial Majesty further agrees to pay to the British Government the sum of Three Millions of dollars, on account of debts due to British subjects by some of the said Hong merchants (or Cohong), who have become insolvent, and who owe very large sums of money to subjects of Her Britannic Majesty.

Article VI.

The Government of Her Britannic Majesty having been obliged to send out an expedition to demand and obtain redress for the violent and unjust proceedings of the Chinese High Authorities towards Her Britannic Majesty's officer and subjects, the Emperor of China agrees to pay the sum of Twelve Millions of dollars, on account of the expenses incurred; and Her Britannic Majesty's Plenipotentiary voluntarily agrees, on behalf of Her Majesty, to deduct from the said amount of Twelve Millions of dollars, any sums which may have been received by Her Majesty's combined forces, as ransom for cities and towns in China, subsequent to the 1st day of August, 1841.

Article VII.

It is agreed, that the total amount of Twenty-One Millions of dollars, described in the three preceding Articles, shall be paid as follows:-

Six Millions immediately.

Six Millions in 1843. That is:- Three Millions on or before the 30th of the month of June, and 3,000,000 on or before the 31st of December.

Five Millions in 1844. That is:- Two Millions and a half on or before the 30th of June, and 2,500,000 on or before the 31st of December.

Four Millions in 1845. That is:- Two Millions on or before the 30th of June, and Two Millions on or before the 31st of December; and it is further stipulated, that Interest, at the rate of 5 per cent per annum, shall be paid by the Government of China on any portion of the above sums that are not punctually discharged at the periods fixed.

Article VIII.

The Emperor of China agrees to release, unconditionally, all subjects of Her Britannic Majesty (whether Natives of Europe or India), who may be in confinement at this moment in any part of the Chinese empire.

Article IX.

The Emperor of China agrees to publish and promulgate, under his Imperial sign manual and seal, a full and entire amnesty and act of indemnity to all subjects of China, on account of their having resided under, or having had dealings and intercourse with, or having entered the service of Her Britannic Majesty, or of Her Majesty's officers; and His Imperial Majesty further engages to release all Chinese subjects who may be at this moment in confinement for similar reasons.

Article X.

His Majesty the Emperor of China agrees to establish at all the ports which are, by the 2nd Article of this Treaty, to be thrown open for the resort of British merchants, a fair and regular tariff of export and import customs and other dues, which tariff shall be publicly notified and promulgated for general information; and the Emperor further engages, that when British merchandise shall have once paid at any of the said ports the regulated customs and dues, agreeable to the tariff to be hereafter fixed, such merchandise may be conveyed by Chinese merchants to any province or city in the interior of the Empire of China, on paying a further amount as transit duties, which shall not exceed [see Declaration respecting Transit Duties below] on the tariff value of such goods.

Article XI.

It is agreed that Her Britannic Majesty's Chief High Officer in China shall correspond with the Chinese High Officers, both at the Capital and in the Provinces, under the term "Communication" 照會. The Subordinate British Officers and Chinese High Officers in the Provinces under the terms "Statement" 申陳 on the part of the former, and on the part of the latter "Declaration" 劄行, and the Subordinates of both Countries on a footing of perfect equality. Merchants and others not holding official situations and, therefore, not included in the above, on both sides, to use the term "Representation" 稟明 in all Papers addressed to, or intended for the notice of the respective Governments.

Article XII.

On the assent of the Emperor of China to this Treaty being received, and the discharge of the first instalment of money, Her Britannic Majesty's forces will retire from Nanking and the Grand Canal, and will no longer molest or stop the trade of China. The military post at Chinhai will also be withdrawn, but the Islands of Koolangsoo, and that of Chusan, will continue to be held by Her Majesty's forces until the money payments, and the arrangements for opening the ports to British merchants, be completed.

Article XIII.

The ratification of this Treaty by Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, &c., and His Majesty the Emperor of China, shall be exchanged as soon as the great distance which separates England from China will admit; but in the meantime, counterpart copies of it, signed and sealed by the.Plenipotentiaries on behalf of their respective Sovereigns, shall be mutually delivered, and all its provisions and arrangements shall take effect.

Done at Nanking, and signed and sealed by the Plenipotentiaries on board Her Britannic Majesty's ship Cornwallis, this 29th day of August, 1842, corresponding with the Chinese date, twenty-fourth day of the seventh month in the twenty-second Year of TAOU KWANG.


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