Opium Wars

In 1838 the Chinese Emperor ordered a complete halt to opium traffic in Canton. He appointed a special commissioner to make sure the trade was stopped; this commissioner confiscated huge stores of the drug and dumped them into the sea. He then suspended trade with the British. England reacted with anger. The British took control of the island of Hong Kong and demanded reparations for the lost opium. The following year, British warships engaged in open conflict with the Chinese navy, rapidly overwhelming the Emperor's ships. This conflict is called the Anglo-Chinese War, or sometimes the First Opium War. It concluded with the Treaty of Nanking. In addition to British control of Hong Kong, the treaty resulted in four new Chinese ports being opened to trade with the west: Shanghai, Ningpo, Foochow, and Amoy.