Project Description

Nanjing, Jiangsu: The Nanjing Treaty



The Nanjing Treaty of 1842 signalled the end of the First Opium War, easily won by the British. It was the start of China’s ‘century of humiliation’ with its series of ‘unequal treaties’ forced upon China by foreign powers. It also set off major waves of Chinese emigration.

Foreigners in, Chinese out
Before the Treaty of Nanjing, China had isolated itself from the outside world: its ports were mostly closed off to foreigners entering the country, and it had forbidden ordinary Chinese to go overseas. This changed when the British ordered China to open the ports of Xiamen, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai to foreign consuls, traders, and missionaries. China was also forced to allow its citizens to travel and work abroad.

The following decades saw an outflow of millions of Chinese looking for a better future overseas. Today, their descendents can be found in all corners of the world.

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