Beijing, Conventions of

Beijing, Conventions of
   The capstone of the “treaty system“ imposed on China by the British Empire. After the dreadful defeat of the Arrow War, the Chinese government was forced to enter the Conventions of Beijing with Britain and France. On October 24, 1860, China signed the Convention of “Peace and Friendship” with Britain in Beijing, and with France the next day. Following the advice of the Russian negotiator, Nikolay Ignatyev, who acted as mediator in securing the evacuation of the invaders from Beijing, Prince Gong exchanged ratification of the Tianjin Treaties of 1858, increased the Chinese indemnities to Britain and France, and added other concessions, including the Kowloon Peninsula in southern China to Britain, and the French demand for Catholic missions to hold property in the interior China. China also agreed to grant foreign powers to station diplomats in Beijing.
   Tianjin was opened as a treaty port, and the opium importation was legalized. As the American and Russian negotiators had already exchanged the ratification of Tianjin Treaties in 1859, the 1858–1860 treaties extended the foreign privileges granted after the first Opium War and strengthened the developments in the treaty-port system. The Conventions of Beijing further opened the Qing Dynasty to Western contact. Not only was the Chinese imperial court forced to further concede its territorial and sovereignty rights, but more importantly the dominant Confucian values of the Chinese feudal society were seriously challenged. The right to disseminate Christianity threatened the backbone of the dynastic rule, and the permanent residence of foreign diplomats in Beijing signified an end to the long-established tributary relationship between China and other countries. As a reward for Russian’s mediatory work, the Sino-Russian Treaty of Beijing was also reached, which confirmed the Treaty of Aigun and ceded to Russia the territory between the Ussuri River and the sea. In brief, the Conventions of Beijing enlarged the scope of the foreign privileges that British initially obtained, and the Chinese Empire skidded further down a disastrous path to its semicolonial status during the late nineteenth century.
   See also <>; <>.
    Wong, J. Y. Deadly Dreams: Opium, Imperialism, and the Arrow War in China New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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