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China had been forced to accept the Treaty of Nanjing on 29th of August 1842 due to her defeat in the opium war. This could be considered as her first defeat and her first time being humiliated by the "barbarians".

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China had been forced to accept the Treaty of Nanjing on 29th of August 1842 due to her defeat in the opium war. This could be considered as her first defeat and her first time being humiliated by the "barbarians". The Treaty of Nanjing was a turning point in the respect of China's international relations. The Middle Kingdom had to give up her traditional pattern of the relationship which had always let her be superior. China, having its cultural excellence, economic affluence, military power and vast territorial expanse, was outstanding in East Asia for 2000 years. Even though the dynastic decline began to set in after 1775 in China, she still kept up the face of a great empire and cherished the glory of its former years. China considered herself as the Middle Kingdom on the earth and if any country desired to have a relationship with China, it had to accept the tributary status. This hierarchical system of international relations had been established since early Ming times (1368 - 1643) with East and Southeast Asia. According to Hs�, "the basic principle underlying this China-oriented family of nations was inequality of states rather than equality of states as in the modern West, and relations between the members were not governed by international law but by what is known as the tributary system." The tributary states honored China as the superior state by sending periodic tribute, by requesting the investiture at their kings, and by adopting the Chinese calendar. ...read more.


By looking at how China considered the relationship with the Western states, we can see that China had a great confidence in her power and the amount of profits the tributary states gained from China tells us again that China's authority was enormous as she was able to provide such valuable services. This tributary relation portrays the unequal relationship between China and the others, with China being superior. Her international relations were favorable for China. But, this linking between China and foreign countries slowly started to show changes. The opening of the Canton port was one of the factors. By the time of 1662, all ports were closed to foreign trade except for Macao linked to Portugal, but in 1685, customs houses were opened at Canton and foreign trade had started. This trade only meant that the bountiful Middle Kingdom had no need to import from the barbarians but the Emperor being generous "allowed" to trade; it also helped to retain their gratitude. This trade was conducted between private foreign and Chinese citizens, it required no formal diplomatic relations, only unofficial commercial transactions. This had let the tributary states to import Chinese goods outside the tributary system and gradually the importance of the tributary trade began to fade out. Then, by the early 19th century both the government and the private traders of the Western nations insisted on international relations according to the law and diplomacy of Europe; it was only China who would not sacrifice their cherished system. ...read more.


From 1840, China had been forced to accept to negotiate as British invaded to the Northern parts. Followed by the Quanbi Convention, the Treaty of Nanjing was signed by the Emperor on 29th of August 1842 and the war was over. This opium issue reveals us that British had succeeded in invading China by the means of trade and this seems quite unique. British, being aware of the big influence of the opium in China, were able to have the confidence and used its advantage to get out of the obedient situation. According to Roberts, this treaty represents a sharp break with China being forced to abandon its traditional method of dealing with the outside world. So this treaty is a turning point of how China links with the foreign states. The Nanjing treaty is often being called as the 'unequal treaty'. China did have an unequal relationship between the "barbarians" from long ago, but the position of China changed during its time. The defeat of the war made her be inferior to Britain just like she used to treat the others. The Middle Kingdom no longer exists from this point and the dynasty does not have its authority as before anymore. So, the Treaty of Nanjing was a departure from China's traditional pattern of international relations and this was only a beginning of the Sino-Western relations being one of the continuous conflicts, leading to the ultimate humiliation of China. ...read more.

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