Buku Britain and Foreign Affairs 1815-1885 by Lowe John
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Britain and Foreign Affairs 1815-1885 by Lowe John

Author:Lowe, John [TK::ENTRY=HASH(0X2C1F0CC)]

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: Taylor & Francis (CAM)

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Britain and Foreign Affairs 1815-1885 by Lowe John

Palmerston’s ‘gunboat diplomacy’—China and Greece

‘Wherever British subjects are placed in danger’, Palmerston wrote in 1846, ‘thither a British Ship of War ought to be… to remain as long as…may be required for the protection of British interests.’

This definition of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ seems innocuous enough but moralists and idealists at the time denounced his rough and ready treatment of foreign susceptibilities. Public opinion, on the other hand, was overwhelmingly on Palmerston’s side, responding to his appeal to jingoistic sentiment. Whether Victorian imperialism was more insensitive than modern China’s treatment of Tibet is perhaps debatable.

 

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Britain and Foreign Affairs 1815-1885 by Lowe John

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Britain and Foreign Affairs 1815-1885 by Lowe John

Author:Lowe, John [TK::ENTRY=HASH(0X2C1F0CC)] , Date: June 13, 2019

,Views: 31

Author:Lowe, John [TK::ENTRY=HASH(0X2C1F0CC)]

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: Taylor & Francis (CAM)
Palmerston’s ‘gunboat diplomacy’—China and Greece

‘Wherever British subjects are placed in danger’, Palmerston wrote in 1846, ‘thither a British Ship of War ought to be… to remain as long as…may be required for the protection of British interests.’

This definition of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ seems innocuous enough but moralists and idealists at the time denounced his rough and ready treatment of foreign susceptibilities. Public opinion, on the other hand, was overwhelmingly on Palmerston’s side, responding to his appeal to jingoistic sentiment. Whether Victorian imperialism was more insensitive than modern China’s treatment of Tibet is perhaps debatable.

The root of the problem in Anglo-Chinese relations was not the opium trade, but Palmerston’s insistence that foreign states show respect for British nationals and the normal conditions of civilized commercial intercourse. However, Chinese officials, who could be no less arrogant than western merchants, were not easy to negotiate with. The display of serene confidence in their cultural superiority belied the fact that China’s golden age was past and that what westerners came face to face with was incompetence and corruption. Furthermore, both governments had problems with the slowness of communications, which allowed local officials to adopt high-handed attitudes that might be difficult to disavow several weeks, if not months, later when the news reached London or Peking.

In 1839 a conflict began over the seizure of opium by Chinese officials at Canton. This was part of an attempt to stop opium imports from India, which had grown sevenfold in the previous twenty years, financing the export of tea. The action of the Chinese in placing the entire British trading community (including the consul) under a form of house arrest seemed unjustified to British officials in the region. In London, the punishment of smugglers and the ban on an illegal trade were felt to be reasonable enough, but the affront to the crown’s representative and the arrest of innocent citizens seemed to require retaliatory action. The despatch of an expeditionary force from India was therefore endorsed. A clash between Chinese and British warships escalated into a naval war by June 1840. In 1841, a major battle took place in which Chinese war junks were sunk and shore batteries captured.

By the Treaty of Nanking in August 1842, the Chinese agreed to an indemnity and to the opening of five ports (including Shanghai and Canton) to foreign trade, with a resident consul in each. Hong Kong island was also ceded outright, but full diplomatic recognition still proved elusive.

In the years before the second China War of 1857–60, British merchants were pressing for the further opening up of China.

France, Russia and the USA were also showing a keen interest in China’s potential for economic exploitation. The persistent refusal to grant diplomatic recognition also meant that Anglo-Chinese relations were at the mercy of events.

The Arrow affair was just such an incident, which an able diplomat at Peking could have settled quickly and amicably. News of the incident, which occurred in October 1856, did not reach London until February 1857, by which time local officials had adopted a hard line from which it was difficult to retreat without losing face.

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