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British Colonization Of Hong Kong Essay

1626 words - 7 pages

The first Opium War took place between the British and the Qing Empire in 1839 until 1842. The British viewed the war to be caused by the Qing emperor and its officials’ refusal to permit the importation of opium into its territory. In the war, Britain defeated the Qing. (The Earth and Its People 540-543) Now, you might wonder what does the Opium War have anything to do with Hong Kong; however, it was during the war, that Britain first occupied Hong Kong, on January 25th of 1841, for a purpose of military staging point use. (Szczepanski) This gave a start to the journey of the British Colonization of Hong Kong. The British officially colonized Hong Kong in 1841 and decolonized the peninsula in 1997, the British colonization benefitted Hong Kong by helping them escape from the two biggest disasters China experienced during that time.
The Opium War was what really gave a start to British Hong Kong, and furthermore, the treaty of Nanking implemented the British colonization. The British could be considered as one of the firsts to discover the opium as such a profitable trade. Chinese merchants later started profiting from distributing the drug as well. Therefore, the addiction of opium quickly spread to everyone in the Qing society not long later, even high-ranking officials were involved with the addiction. Ironically, the first Qing law that was set in 1729 happens to be banning all opium imports. However, as the Qing emperor and officials start coming to realize the addiction of opium, they debated whether to continue the banning and make it stricter or to legalize and tax the drug. They soon came to a conclusion of continuing the banning of opium and making the law stricter. This decision immediately alarmed the British, as they viewed the banning of opium importation to be threatening their economic health. The British instantly decided to declare war on China. Subsequently, “British naval and marine forces arrived on the south China coast” (The Earth and Its People 541). During the Opium War, the British occupied Hong Kong on January 25th, 1841. This peninsula was chosen by the British to use as a military staging point. (Szczepanski) During the war, when the British arrived Nanjing, the Qing decided to negotiate as they came to realize that they would probably lose in the war. And on August 29th, 1842, both parties signed the Treaty of Nanking. The treaty of Nanking did not only greatly benefit the British, but it also marked the end of the first Opium War. In part of the treaty, the Qing government agreed to cede Hong Kong to Britain. (“Treaty of Nanjing”) The reason why Britain chose Hong Kong as their military staging point was because this island was in a suitable location to be one of their trading ports. The British saw the potential Hong Kong had in being in a sea region, which can help them easily resupply their marine ships. Furthermore, long before opium came to mind, British merchants had bought tea, silk, and other products...

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