How was China affected by the Unequal Treaties of the 1850s and 1860s?

1 Answer
Nov 17, 2016

The unequal treaties were only part widening catastrophe the engulfed China during the 1850s and 60s.


Prior to the Opium Wars China was an incredibly rich and populous country with a strong common culture and it dominated it's neighbors. Traders paid in Silver for her products and natural resources. The population was a consumer market that the Europeans envied.

The unequal treaties gutted China's economy and undermined the forces of the State. With the First Opium War (1839-1842) the British were the first foreign power to force China into an "unequal treaty" China was compelled to give her most favored nation status and was unofficially able to trade using Opium.

Missionaries began to come to the country. The spread of Christianity and social unrest helped spark the Taiping Rebellion.

The Second Opium War (1856 to 1860) lead to the legalization of the Opium market started a wave of drug addiction that sapped of the people. Beijing was occupied, looted, and the Summer Palace burned. A host of rebellions took place in the time period that repeated emptied the country's Treasury.

The Taiping Rebellion (1850 to 1864), a religious/civil war, the most violent war of 19th Century, destroyed the central provinces of China. The Nian Rebellion in the North (1851 to 1868) and the Punti-Hakka Clan wars (1855-1867) were related to the Tiaping Rebellion.

The Hui (or Dungan) Rebellion (1862-73), a Muslim Religious group unrest that unsettled the north west of the country.

A number of other smaller rebellions also occurred about the same time, The Red Turban Rebellion (1854-1857. The Miao Rebellion (1854-73), The Panthay Rebellion (1855-1873).

Tens of millions of people were killed in the unrest.

The Qing Government were helpless to do anything against the foreigner's superior weapons and had great difficulty with all the Rebellions that were happening. The central government's influence was greatly weaken at the time and the provinces were more and more left on their own.