A New China (Guangdong AAR) Part 1: The Opium War (1836-1839)

Author: johnr754
Published: 2017-03-20, edited: 1970-01-01
The region of Guangdong (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 Guangdong, 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, Guangdong - 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 Guangdong 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 Guangdong 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.

Check out another AAR:

Game: Victoria 2

Eighteen Thirty-Six - A HPM Russian Luddite AAR - Part 1

Images: 87, author: ElvenAshwin, published: 2017-04-25