Imperialism During the 1700’s and 1800’s, the Imperialist movement in Great Britain grew rapidly. They expanded their influence over many countries, including India and China. In both Lin Tse-hsu’s letter to Queen Victoria and Gandhi’s article on the British in India, the reader gets two first hand accounts of the impact the British had on other countries. In Tse-hsu’s letter, he talked about the opium trade Great Britain had with China. Although opium was illegal in England, the trade of it with China was still allowed. Tse-hsu tried to appeal to Queen Victoria and asked her to aid in China’s attempts to end the drug trade.

“Even though the barbarians may not necessarily intend to do us harm, yet in coveting profit to an extreme, they have no regard for injuring others. Let us ask, where in your conscience?” A few months after the letter was written, the Opium War broke out between China and England. The war was over quickly, with the British’s superior naval power making the victory an easy one. The result of the war was the Nanking Treaty, which, concluded at gunpoint in 1842, ceded the Chinese island of Hong Kong, near Guangzhou, to Britain and opened five ports – Guangzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai – to foreign trade and residence. Known as treaty ports, these cities contained large areas called concessions that were leased in perpetuity to foreign powers.

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Through its clause on extraterritoriality, the treaty stipulated that British subjects in China were answerable only to British law, even in disputes with Chinese. The treaty also had a most-favored-nation clause, which meant that whenever a nation extracted a new privilege from China, that privilege was extended automatically to Britain. China had no say in these proceedings, however, whenever they expressed any disapproval of the Great Britain’s sanctions, they were quickly silenced by the British navy. Meanwhile, the English East India Company continued to extend its control over Indian territory throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Treaties made with Indian princes provided for the stationing of British troops within these princely states.

To pay for the troops the British were often given revenue-collecting rights in certain parts of the states; this gave them indirect control over these areas. Many of these states were annexed when succession to the throne was in doubt or when the ruler acted in ways that seemed contrary to British interests. At the same time British attitudes about Indian culture changed. Until about 1800 the East India Company traders adapted themselves to the country, donning Indian dress, learning Sanskrit, and sometimes taking Indian mistresses. As British rule strengthened, and as an influential evangelical Christian movement emerged in the early 19th century, India’s customs were judged more harshly.

Missionaries, who had been kept out by the company for fear they would upset Indians and thus disrupt commerce, were now brought in. In 1835 English was enforced as the language of government. In Gandhi’s articles to the Indian Opinion he wrote about British control in India. Gandhi spent most of his life combating the influence England had over his country. In the excerpts of his articles, he also attempted to appeal to the British conscience, the difference being that he wrote more to the British people than the government.

“In seems, then, that the hope of India lies in the British people, rather than in the British Government .. ” Gandhi later led a movement encouraging civil disobedience through passive resistance to the British rule in India. Both of these historical documents show the impact of British imperialism over other countries. Both India and China had long struggles to free themselves from the influence of Great Britain, and these documents helped to gain support for that movement. History.


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