Search this site:

Content copyrighted. All rights reserved.


Objective chronological listing of significant events leading up to modern China.


1840 - 1857

  • 1840 – First Opium War between Britain and China. China is defeated.
  • 1842 – Treaty of Nanjing. First unequal treaty signed by China. China pays war redemption to Britain. Hong Kong is ceded to Britain. Five ports would be open to foreign trade. Privileges granted to Britain and British citizens in China.
  • 1844 – Treaty with the United States and France granting many privileges similar to those granted to Britain.
  • 1846 – Restrictions against Catholicism and the Protestant faith lifted.
  • 1850 – Taiping rebellion begins in Guangxi province. The rebellion would last thirteen years. Millions would die in the process.
  • 1853 – Zeng Guofan raises a local army in Hunan province to fight the Taiping forces.
  • 1853 - Taiping forces capture Nanjing and establish it as capital of the Kingdom of Heavenly Peace.
  • 1853 – United States naval commander Mathew C. Perry arrives in Japan. Japan would be opened to foreign trade.
  • 1853 – The Crimean War begins.
  • 1854 – Russian fleet defeats a British and French fleet off the coast of China.
  • 1856 – Second Opium War begins. A Hong Kong ship flying the British flag is searched by Chinese officials for opium. British forces raid Guangzhou in retaliation.
  • 1857 – British parliament approves a war against China.
  • 1857 – British and French forces capture Guangzhou.