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GHS 208 (Keating) - Summer: Opium Wars and the Unequal Treaties

The Opium War (1997 film)

Direced by Chinese filmmaker Xie Jin, The Opium War was released in 1997 to coincide with the return of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule.  Although the film is state-supported, reviews generally suggest that the movie is relatively unbiased.  The viewer is invited to make their own informed decision.

Web Resources

  • In 1939, Imperial Comissionar Lin Zexu (tasked with ending the opium trade) wrote an open letter to Queen Victoria, urging her to end the practice of supplying opium to China.  That letter, along with a brief introduction, may be viewed here.

  • Following the end of the First Opium War, England and China signed the first of what would come to be known as unequal treaties.  In addition to monetary reparations, the Treaty of Nanking (full text here) also ceeded control of Hong Kong to England and granted England "most favored nation" status, a concept which continues today.

  • The U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian provides a two-part "Milestones of U.S. Foreign Policy" discussion regarding similar treaties signed between China and the U.S. (Part 1; Part 2)

Literature

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