Surrender to the West

Surrender to the West

The man who helped negotiate the terms of China's capitulation was Howqua. He died a year later, a broken man in a shattered world. Held at gunpoint, the treaty negotiations were a one-sided game.

Every move failed, and China was forced to hand over 21 million ounces of silver. She had to pay for the war that Britain had started. Five Chinese ports had to be given up to the foreigner, and Britain took Hong Kong.

Other Western nations exploited China's wounds. The industrial powers moved in to acquire trading concessions. Foreign merchants lived on China's doorstep in grand houses on boulevards like those of Europe.

One hundred and fifty years later, those buildings have now been reclaimed. Hong Kong has been handed back to China, and Lin Tse-hs is celebrated as a national hero.


One officer's record of the Opium Wars is a catalogue of inefficiencies: Fire-ships fizzled out; a plan to fling monkeys tied with firecrackers onto English ships failed "because no one ever dared go near enough"; Chinese tacticians contemplated releasing smallpox-infected animals to the English, but the general thought the plan discreditable.

From Transworld Publishers, Ltd.