The Opium Wars were the beginning of a period of repeated Western intervention in Chinese affairs. Western intervention created a sense of humiliation as well as a hunger for both reform and revolution. In this activity students will read about the Opium Wars and develop a timeline of the major events in Chinese history.
Students will go to the Ch'ing China Web site to read about the Opium Wars. Students will answer a series of questions about the Opium Wars. They will then read about the subsequent periods of Chinese history leading up to the uprising of 1911 and create a timeline of Chinese history from 1830 to 1910, including the 10 most important events of that period and a brief description of each event.
- Students will be able to evaluate the significance of events in China during the Opium Wars and later.
- Students will be able to apply what they have learned by creating a timeline of major events in Chinese history from the Opium Wars to 1910.
Student Web Activity Answers
- Lin Tse-hsü was the Chinese Imperial Commissioner at Canton who tried unsuccessfully to end the opium trade and the government corruption it produced in China.
- The biggest British grievance involved the lack of formal treaty relations between the two countries. The British regarded the Chinese legal system as barbaric. In the absence of formal relations, when British citizens were accused of crimes, the British refused to hand them over to the Chinese for prosecution.
- The Treaty of Nanking demanded British extraterritoriality, meaning that British citizens accused of crimes in China would be subject to British, not Chinese, law.
- Following the skirmishes of 1856–1860, China was forced to accept the legalization of opium and the activities of Christian missionaries.
- Students' timelines will differ but should include exactly 10 historical events, with a one-sentence description of each. Students should be prepared to defend their choices in a classroom discussion.
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