“Insulting” British dignity

— the second Opium War in 1856

“one day, two robbers broke into the Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan) , one started to rob and the other set it on fire. It turns out that victory is a plunder. The winner stole all the wealth of the summer palace. Collected in this Oriental Museum, there are not only outstanding works of art, but also Lin L á NG’s dazzling gold and silver products. Even if all the treasures of Notre Dame in our country are added together, it can not be comparable to this large-scale and magnificent Oriental Museum. These two robbers are English and France. ”

things have to start from 1840. The strong ships and sharp shelling of Britain opened the door of China and seized the interests they dare not even think of. However, people’s greed is unlimited, and they are still planning another bigger “deal”.

in the 1850s, liberal capitalism developed rapidly. British industry took the lead in the world in all major sectors and became a veritable “world factory”. Britain and its colonies have an absolute advantage in world trade. In 1850, its share in world trade was 52.4%, exceeding the sum of France, Germany and the United States. During this period, France and the United States also completed the industrial revolution one after another. Although the market is expanding, it is far from meeting the needs of the development of capitalism. Two economic crises broke out in the capitalist world in 1847 and 1857.

in the ten years after the Opium War, the average annual output of industrial products (mainly cotton textiles) from Britain to China was less than 2 million pounds, and the value of British cotton textiles consumed by China per capita was only 0.75 pence. So the British once again extended their black hand to the disaster stricken Chinese nation.

the emperor has lived up to his “heart”, and the time has finally come. After the revolution of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom broke out in 1851, the Qing government was busy fighting with the Taiping Army in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and implemented the policy of passive war avoidance and peace oriented against foreign aggression. In 1854 and 1856, Britain, France and the United States proposed to amend the Treaty (Nanjing Treaty), and Russia would respond. The request of the four countries to amend the treaty was not allowed by the Qing government. The Treaty of Wangxia expired in 1856. With the support of Britain and France, the United States once again proposed a comprehensive amendment to the treaty, but it was still rejected by the Qing government. Therefore, the Western powers are determined to launch a new war of aggression against China.

in 1856, Britain finally created a “yarrow incident”. On October 8, a Chinese smuggling ship named “yarrow” came to Guangzhou from Xiamen and anchored at Huangpu port near Haizhu fort in Guangzhou. More than 40 officers and men, including Liang Guoding, the commander-in-chief of the Guangzhou Navy, who was in charge of water investigation in the Qing Dynasty, went on board for inspection and arrested two pirates and 10 other suspected sailors hiding on the ship. This incident had nothing to do with Britain and was entirely China’s internal affairs. However, in order to provoke trouble, the British aggressors decided to distort and take advantage of this incident. British Consul Bashari in Guangzhou first jumped out and made a lot of noise. He said nonsense that the yarrow was a British ship and the Chinese Navy kidnapped people on board, which was a violation of the Sino British treaty. He also falsely rumored that when the Chinese Navy boarded the ship for inspection, it pulled off the British flag flying on the ship, which was an insult to British dignity and an “extremely serious insult of nature, which must be compensated immediately”. He bluntly ordered the Qing government to release the arrested prisoners immediately and made a written apology to Britain. The truth of




is that “yarrow” was a merchant ship built by Chinese Su Yacheng in August 1854. Su Yacheng bought a Hong Kong British license and hired a foreigner named “yarrow” to work on the ship. So it’s called the arrow. In 1855, the ship was sold to Fang Yaming, another Chinese. In order to evade the constraints of domestic laws and engage in opium smuggling and piracy, Fang Yaming registered the ship in Hong Kong in September 1855, obtained a one-year license from the British authorities in Hong Kong, and hired a British as a nominal captain. The sailors on board were Chinese. The pirates hiding on the ship used this license as a cover to engage in robbery at sea. As the license expired in late September, the yarrow was no longer flying the British flag six days before it was searched, and Britain had no right to protect the ship. The so-called insult to the British flag was fabricated by Bashari out of thin air.

in February 1856, Ma Lai, a French missionary who illegally entered Xilin County, Guangxi, colluded with local villains and committed crimes, which aroused the anger of the local people. The Xilin County Magistrate ordered Ma Lai to be executed. On this pretext, France formed a British French coalition with Britain and launched the second Opium War against China on October 23, 1856.

the British and French allied forces took advantage of the situation, captured Guangzhou, shelled Dagu and threatened Tianjin. The Qing government quickly sent special envoys to Tianjin to negotiate with representatives of Britain, France and other countries, and signed the Tianjin Treaty on June 26 and 27, respectively.

the ruins of the Old Summer Palace after being burned

however, Britain, France and other countries are still dissatisfied and are ready to expand the war of aggression against China in the name of exchanging contracts in Beijing. On August 1, 1860, the British and French allied forces captured Beitang, Tanggu on the 14th, Dagu on the 21st, and entered Tianjin on the 24th. The Qing government hurriedly sent GUI Liang and Heng Fu to Tianjin to seek peace. However, the aggressors demanded exorbitant prices in the negotiations, constantly creating twists and turns, which failed the negotiations, and the British and French coalition forces approached Beijing.

on October 5, the British and French coalition troops arrived at the foot of Beijing. According to the information provided by Russian diplomat Ignatiev, the defenders of the Qing Dynasty were concentrated in the east city, and the north city was the weakest place, so they attacked it first; And I heard that the emperor of the Qing Dynasty was in the Yuanmingyuan in the northwest suburb. Therefore, the British and French allied forces attacked the Old Summer Palace by attacking anding gate and Desheng Gate, and looted the Old Summer Palace, creating a “burning the Old Summer Palace” incident that shocked China and the world.




first broke into the French army. They robbed everything when they saw it. The treasures in each French soldier’s pocket were worth 30000 or 40000 francs. British ArmyAlthough it was a little late, the pockets were full of gold and silver treasures. They smashed the large porcelain and f à L á ng bottles that could not be removed. After the British and French allied forces robbed the Old Summer Palace, in order to sell the stolen goods and cover up the crime, they burned the Old Summer Palace. From October 7 to 9, the fire burned for three days and three nights, turning the world famous garden into scorched earth.

later, Western media commented: “we destroyed the world’s most precious wealth in such a most barbaric way… You can’t imagine how magnificent this palace is, let alone what the French and British troops have ravaged this place.”

from 24th to 25th, Britain and France coerced the Qing government to sign the Sino British Beijing treaty and the Sino French Beijing treaty. Subsequently, Russia forced the Qing government to sign the Sino Russian Beijing treaty with it, which caused heavy losses to China’s territorial sovereignty. In November, the invading army withdrew from Beijing and Tianjin, and the second Opium War ended.

the smoke of the second Opium War has long dissipated, but the ruins of the Old Summer Palace always warn us that every Chinese people should not forget national humiliation and revitalize China. Because history has proved that if we want to save the nation from danger, we must reject foreign aggressors outside the country. If we want to save the decline of civilization, we must open the country and develop ourselves. Only when we are strong, we are not afraid of strong robbers.