A New China (Guangdong AAR) - Part 1: East India Company Rule (1836-1852) [REVISED]

Author: johnr754
Published: 2017-03-20

Part of the campaign:

A New China (Guangdong AAR)

The region of Kwangtung (广东) in China is separate from the rest of traditional China in several ways. Although Mandarin, Hue and several other languages are common in Kwangtung, Cantonese has its origins in this area and has had a strong presence for millenia.
Ever since the fall of the Ming Empire (明朝) in the later half of the 17th century, the Qing dynasty (清朝) established their rule over all of China - and by extension, Kwangtung - and claimed the Mandate of Heaven (天命). As a result, the rule of the Qing Empire was unquestionable, and their rulers were accepted as the rightful leaders of all of China.
However, by the turn of the nineteenth century, things started to change for the previously unshakable rule of the Qing. Many European nations, such as the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands, started to smuggle opium into China through port cities like Canton (廣州) for profit. This caused massive trouble in there, as opium was officially banned in China. Despite the protests of the Daoguang Emperor (道光帝), the European empires did not care and continued to smuggle drugs in.
Tensions rose, and it finally reached a high point when a Chinese man named Lin Weixi was beaten in a drunken brawl by drunk British soldiers in early July 1838. The man would die the next day as a result. The British attempted to simply pay the Qing a small amount of money as compensation for the man's death, but the Chinese felt that the reparation was too minimal and blocked British food trade to a British community in Canton. However, the British were angered by this, and in late August 1838, British ships lead by Charles Elliot and Henry Smith opened fire on the Chinese junkers enforcing the blockade. A stalemate ensued after the battle; however, the British sent more ships and troops to enforce their will on the Chinese. As a result, the Opium War (次鴉片戰爭) began between the United Kingdom and the Qing dynasty.
The war was a disaster for the Qing, sadly. The British ships were a lot better in terms of quality and quantity than the Qing junkers. Although the Qing had a numerical advantage in the army, there was no ship advantage at all against the British.
Yet even then the British armed forces were a lot better armed and disciplined against the weak troops of the Qing Empire. When two Green Banner forces attempted an invasion of British India through Burma, the two resulting battles between the British East India Company and the Qing forces was an effective massacre.
While the British captured, injured, or killed 12,400 Chinese troops and swept through the Banners like they were nothing, the Qing couldn't do the same and only captured, injured or killed 1,100 British East India Company troops.
By July 1939, the Daoguang Emperor realized he was in no position to properly fight the British, and was forced to sign a peace treaty with the British. In the resulting Treaty of Nanking (南京条约) on the HMS Cornwallis, the humiliated Qing government was forced to pay reparations for the war, open up several ports for foreigner trade, and cede the island of Hong Kong in Canton to the British government.
Most controversially though, the British government decided to enforce the cessation of the Cantonese-speaking areas to the East India Company. Such a massive amount of Chinese territory ceded to the British was seen as extremely controversial to the greatest enemies of the British, such as the French, Russians, and the Americans, as it was lambasted as blatant imperialism towards the Chinese. Despite this, though, the new Kwangtung Presidency, ruled by the East India Company (英國東印度公司) was formally established on July 1, 1839. However, the Presidency was a lot more autonomous in nature than the Presidencies in India. As an example, Cantonese men were allowed to hold government positions, and was ruled from Canton (广州) rather than London. However, the city of Hong Kong (香港) remained under British direct rule, as it was seen as a staging area for invasion or restoration of order in the case of anti-British rebellion in Guangdong, or a future war against the Qing.
Charles Elliot (born in 1801 in Dresden, Saxony), the main commander of the British navy during the Battle of Kowloon, was appointed as the first Governor of the Kwangtung Presidency (廣東省總督). 37 years of age, Elliot made sure to help "civilize" the lands of the Presidency, and be as subservient as possible to East India Company rule.
The rule of the British East India Company was now firmly established in Canton (also known as Kwangtung). Although the people of the province are not happy, they are unable to do anything. The possibility of riot and rebellion exists in Guangdong, but even then, the Chinese irregulars that would rise up are too weakly armed compared to British troops. For now, the Company now has a stranglehold in the Cantonese areas, and are firmly separated from Qing rule.
The port city of Canton is the Kwangtung Presidency capital, due to its large population, opium trade and its generally good position to solidify the Presidency as the current rulers of the area.
Within the Presidency, several political factions have formed. The Liberator (救星) and Qing (清) factions, both of which are banned in the Presidency, formed a temporary alliance as the Chinese Revival Movement (中国复兴运动), which seeks to end Company rule over Guangdong and either return it to the rule of the Qing (the Qing faction) or establish an independent republic (Liberator). Those issues aren't being discussed for now, however; the issue at hand is ending Company rule.
As part of the establishment of the Presidency, the British East India Company holds a political monopoly over Kwangtung. The Chinese Revival Movement is banned, and the only way to get a high-ranking bureaucratic position is to join the East India Company.
Charles Elliot, the Governor of the Presidency of Kwangtung, has several plans for the region. Although he doesn't care at all for the welfare of the Chinese people, he realizes he needs to do several things to improve the humanity of the area to reduce anti-British sentiment.
Among them is the banning of serfdom, which was met with mild opposition from the Cantonese aristocracy. However, the EIC forced the end of serfdom; as compensation, though, the lands remained in the lands of the aristocracy.
In early 1840, the First Budget (第一预算) was forced in Kwangtung. Taxes for the aristocracy were lowered entirely, and spending was put at a complete high for everything.
By July 1840, sixty Cantonese troops were recruited from all over Guangdong. Half are stationed in Chankiang (湛江) as the West Corps (西军团), and the other half are stationed in Chao-chou (潮州) as the East Corps (东部军团). The forces are about as powerful as that of the Qing's, but with British backing, anything is possible.
During this time, Hong Kong became extremely luxurious and developed. More Qing, British and Cantonese men emigrated to the port city as it became increasingly bigger and better.
Anti-British sentiment is growing, however. As the ports of Canton, Hainan (海南) and Chankiang are opened to Western trade, the Chinese Revival Movement has gained increasingly large popularity among the population, as the Qing is still seen as the holders of the Mandate of Heaven, and the British as greedy barbarians who only do it for profit.
By early 1843, the final Maharajah of the Sikh Empire, Sher Singh, was forced to accept the end of the formidable and mighty Sikh Empire to the East India Company. All the lands of Punjab were annexed into the Company.
In early 1845, alongside the formation of the Canton Regiment (广东军团) in the capital, the Cantonese Squadron (广东中队) is created. Consisting of ten clipper transports, two frigates and a man-of-war, the navy is likely among the best in East Asia. For a British state, though, it's quite puny.

And although Qing troops surround Kwangtung, our protection by Britain prevents any form of incursion by the Banners.
As the budget fluctuates, anti-British sentiment covers nearly everyone in the Presidency, with only a few thousand not caring enough for it. About 3,000 are ready to fight for the liberation of Kwangtung and the restoration of Qing rule.
In the midst of this, Charles Elliot is declared Governor-for-life of the Kwangtung Presidency. This increased tensions slightly, yet it was seemingly accepted as fait accompli by the more educated Chinese prior to the increase in tension.
As an anti-Western rebellion occurs in Anking (安庆市), tensions greatly increase in Canton.
Of note, our relations with nearly every country on Earth is met with contempt. While the British proclaim us an independent state, everyone else thinks of us as a part of Britain that was illegally created. Many nations, such as France and Russia, consider us still part of the Qing Empire, while occupied by British troops.
By 1848, the anti-Western rebellion in Anking was crushed.
In January 1849, American commodore Matthew Perry sails into Japan with several ships and demands that Japan opens their ports for Western (and American) trade. However, Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi (徳川 家茂)'s advisors decided to fire upon the American ships. Angered by this, President Millard Filmore declares war on Japan to force an opening of their borders.
In early 1850, the Chinese tea monopoly was broken entirely when tea started to be cultivated and grown in India. The one economic advantage the Qing once had over the West was seemingly gone.
Six months later, Hong Xiuquan (洪秀全), a Hakka Chinese man who believed he was the son of God and the younger brother of Jesus Christ, convinced millions of Chinese in the southeastern parts of the Great Chinese Plain - including cities like Nanking (南京市) - to launch a massive rebellion (The Taiping Rebellion; 太平天国运动) against the Qing to purge it of its heresy and spread the word of his brand of Christianity to all of China.
The rebellion was very bloody and left millions dead. However, Xiuquan's plans were short-sighted: he didn't have much of a proper military and mainly used soldiers and conscripts from the area. His rebellion was crushed within six months.
When the rebellion was crushed in early 1851, Hong Xiuquan committed suicide before the Qing armies could capture him and execute him for treason. As soon as the areas were re-integrated into the Qing Empire, the newly-coronated Xianfeng Emperor (咸丰帝) declared an end to the Manchu dominance in Qing affairs and started to use more Han Chinese in Qing bureaucracy.
Yet the rebellions did not end, as a Muslim in Yunnan (云南) named Du Wenxiu (杜文秀) started a massive rebellion known as the Du Wenxiu Rebellion (杜文秀起義) due to alleged discrimination against the Hui Muslim minority in Yunnan. Furthermore, a revolt in Xingjiang (新疆) was started by Yaqub Beg (محمد یعقوب بیگ), a Tajiki adventurer who declared himself the Amir of Kashgaria and started a rebellion against the Qing. The massive unrest has caused the Qing dynasty's hold over the Mandate of Heaven to disappear entirely, no longer making them the legitimate rulers of China.
After the failure of the Taiping Rebellion, several thousand Chinese who escaped the Qing entered into Kwangtung, mainly to spread the ideals of the late Hong Xiuquan, who was declared to have entered into Heaven and wants the rebellion to continue from Guangdong. Combined with the unrest from the Chinese Revival Movement, tensions in Guangdong are at a near breaking point.
While this is all going on, however, thousands of Indian soldiers mutiny from the East India Company and join a rebellion started by Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. The massive Sepoy rebellion struck British India like a wave, as thousands of Indian soldiers rebelled for the end of the British dominance.
However, the rebellion was crushed. The Indian rebels were irregulars with swords and crappy guns, while the British had far more advanced guns, artillery and cavalry. Furthermore, the Mughal Empire was abolished completely, ending any chance they had of restoring the rule over India they had over a hundred years prior to the Sepoy Rebellion.
In reaction to this, in 1 May 1852, the British parliament passed the Government of India Act of 1852. The British East India Company was completely abolished, and all of its holdings were transferred directly to the British government in London. However, a provision for the Kwangtung Presidency was put in the Act, where it remained a satellite of the British monarchy rather than full annexation. And, thankfully to Charles Elliot, he was able to remain the Governor of Kwangtung.
Despite the end of the Company, the old East India Company flag was kept as the flag of the Kwangtung Presidency. Elliot did not want to give it a Chinese flag, nor did he believe it deserved a better colonial flag.

Fifteen years of Company rule has come and gone; the British stranglehold over Kwangtung has been established. Will Elliot's rule over Kwangtung continue without hassle, or will rebellions end his rule once and for all?

Next chapter:

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A New China (Guangdong AAR) - Part 2: Modernization (1852-1875)

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