Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Opium Wars
(1,666 words)

Following a request by Foreign Minister Palmerston, the British parliament dispatched a naval force with 4000 soldiers which arrived in Guangzhou in June 1840. Since the local authorities refused any compromise, this force went into action along the Chinese coast as far as the Dagu Forts on the mouth of the Bai River, which controlled access to Beijing. When it became known in London that the Chinese government was forced in August 1842 to sign a treaty in Nanjing, the Times gave this armed conflict the derisive name of "opium war".

Opium had in fact offered the opportunity for this w…

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Bastid-Bruguière, Marianne, “Opium Wars”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 29 November 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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