The First Opium War (1839–42), also known as the Opium War and as the Anglo-Chinese War, was fought between Great Britain and China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice for foreign nationals.
Prior to the conflict Chinese officials wished to end the spread of opium, and confiscated around 20,000 chests of opium (approximately 1.21 million kilograms or 2.66 million lb) from British traders. The British government, although not officially denying China's right to control imports of the drug, objected to this seizure and used its military power to enforce violent redress.
In 1842, the Treaty of Nanking—the first of what the Chinese later called the unequal treaties—granted an indemnity to Britain, the opening of five treaty ports, and the cession of Hong Kong Island, thereby ending the trade monopoly of the Canton System. The failure of the treaty to satisfy British goals of improved trade and diplomatic relations led to the Second Opium War (1856–60). The war is now considered in China as the beginning of modern Chinese history.
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