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Title: Patriotism or conciliation in Sino-British relations, 1839-1848 : Lin Tse-hsü and Ch'i-Ying
Author: Chi-Hung, Wan
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1978
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The opium trade embittered the Manchu government for it subtracted wealth from China and damaged the people's health. Lin Tse-hsu was appointed as imperial commissioner to eradicate the opium trade in Canton in December 1838. Lin's mission was of key importance. The opium dispute had drawn the attention of the scholar-official class to the current situation. If Lin succeeded in his mission, more innovations could be made among the corrupted bureaucracy. Lin followed an inflexible and uncompromising approach in Canton because he did not realize that Britain was militarily much stronger than China. He even did not believe that the British government was capable of sending an expeditionary force to Chinese waters. In Canton Lin employed the people to fight against the British marines, and revived the local militia for defence. When Lin was punished by the Emperor for touching off the War, national sympathy for him was aroused: the censors in Peking gave him vocal supports, while the people of Kuang-tung engaged in fighting with the British, especially in the famous San-yuan-li incident of May 1841. The censors and the Cantonese both regarded Lin's resistance against the British invasion as genuine patriotism, they treated the Treaty of Nanking in August 1842 as China's submission to the British encroachment, and decided to continue their struggle with the British into the post-war period. On the other hand, Ch'i-ying, the signatory of the Nanking Treaty, convinced the Emperor that his conciliatory policy towards the British in the post-war period was able to prevent further conflicts between China and Britain. Shortly after the War, the Emperor agreed to overrule the belligerent censors. Appeasement of the British plenipotentiary, Sir Henry Pottinger, became the centre of Ch'i-ying's efforts. Ch'i-ying's policy worked smoothly until the middle of 1844 when Sir John Davis succeeded Pottinger. Davis insisted on the British entry to Canton as part of the Treaty rights, and friction between the British and the Cantonese increased. When Ch'i-ying proclaimed the opening of Canton to the British in early 1846, he received severe criticism from the Cantonese and the censors. The Emperor's confidence in Ch'i-ying's policy started to wane. The sudden British assault to the inland river of Canton in April 1847 made the Emperor doubt whether the policy of Ch'i-ying was workable. He ordered the reinforcement of the defence works in Canton and other places. The censors showered attacks on Ch'i-ying when the latter agreed to execute four Chinese who were guilty of the killing of six British in Huang-chu-chi village near Canton in December 1847. The Emperor felt pleased with Ch'i-ying's petition for transfer to Peking after the killing. Es u Kuang-chia, an old friend of Lin, was appointed to take charge of the foreign affairs in March 1848. Hsu reintroduced the policy of resistance which Lin had initiated.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available