Thursday, August 29, 2013

British Hong Kong (August 29th)

In 1836, the China was the center of the opium trade, but the Chinese government wanted the trade to be stopped. Lin Zexu was given the task in 1839 of suppressing opium. He went to the British and ordered them to surrender the opium trade. All the British soldiers and merchants, including the Superintendent of Trade, Charles Elliot, were confined to the Canton Factories and cut off their supplies. Elliot complied to the demands of the Chinese in order to secure passage back to England for himself and his men.

All 20,283 chests of British opium were handed over to Zexu, who had all of it burned publicly. The British Cabinet demanded that the Chinese pay for the destruction of British property. The British stressed the fact that they cared not for China's opium policies, but did care about the way the situation was handled. In 1840, when China refused to pay, Charles Elliot and his cousin, Rear Admiral George Elliot, blockaded key ports along the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers. This fighting led to the First Opium War.

In 1841, Elliot negotiated with Emperor Qishan at the Convention of Chuenpee. In the treaty that was arranged, peace would be made, but the Emperor would give Hong Kong to the British Empire. The flag was first raised in January of 1842, and on August 29th, 1842, the Treaty of Nanking was officially ratified and the island of Hong Kong was ceded to Britain, and it stayed in British hands for 100 years.