The Arrow War, occurred in 1856, was provoked by a dispute arising from the arrest by the Chinese authorities of the crew of a ship called the Arrow. But behind this, Britain and China had lots of more complex reasons to have the war. According to Roberts in “A History of Modern China”, “the second conflict and the second treaty settlement can be interpreted as the inevitable outcome of this dissatisfaction” meaning that this second war was caused by human mistakes, decisions and actions such as lack of communications or the discrepancy between the English and Chinese versions of Article Ⅱof the Treaty of Nanjing. But I would say China was rather to be blamed for this war than Britain in spite of her unawareness of the Chinese cultures and politics or even Sir John Davis’s rudeness to enforce Qiying to open Canton by bringing 900 soldiers and capturing the factories in April 1847.
In the first place, China never showed her will to negotiate with foreign countries; not even when Beijing became reconciled to the creation of systematic co-operation with England. From the defeat of the first opium was, Canton had been humiliated and refused the entry of the British. Even when Sir Henry Pottinger and Qiying were in good terms, the Canton “citizens” were persistently resisting to the British’s entry. She never had a correspondence. She constantly showed a conscious defiance as China wanted to nullify the treaties or at least by revising the Treaty of Nanjing, she tried to get out of the situation. Chinese even evaded some of the treaties. Imperial refusal and the implementation of obstructing the British’s treaty privileges are the evidences of how much China wanted to destroy the Treaty of Nanjing. Ye Ming Shen, the Governor General at Canton, had obstructed Sir John Bowring’s, the Governor of Xianggang’s, attempt to talk to the court all the time and this had worn out Bowring’s patience. These points and the fact that the Treaty of Nanjing was an unequal treaty show how China had suffered to keep her authority. Chinese knew that they would have not gotten what they wanted if they negotiate face to face. These irritating Chinese conducts and the decline of Chinese power by the treaty justify the reason why China was to be blamed. Comparing to Bowring who had always tried to have a talk with China, the court’s attitude was inflexible. If the would not have been so stubborn not to negotiate, Britain and China could have came up with a softer solution; maybe China even did not have needed to accept more treaties, the Treaty of Tianjin in 1858 and the Convention of Beijing in 1860. China had suffered in the situation she made.