Hong Kong was one of the first regions in China to be influenced by Western powers. Beginning in the 1840s, the British forced the Qing government to sign three unequal treaties that ceded Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, and leased the New Territories. The whole Hong Kong territory eventually went under the British control.
The First Opium War broke out in June 1840. The British forces attacked Amoy (now Xiamen ﹝廈門﹞), captured Dinghai (定海), and reached Baihekou (白河口) at the end of July. The Qing government was shocked that the “barbarians” were already at its doorstep. Panic-stricken, it agreed to negotiate with the British in Guangdong (廣東). Charles Elliot, the Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China, forced Imperial Commissioner Qishan (琦善) to agree to cede Hong Kong Island to Britain. Before reaching an agreement, Britain had already sent troops to occupy Hong Kong Island by force in January 1841.
In June 1841, over a hundred British ships carrying more than 10,000 soldiers were sent from India to China to support the war. Henry Pottinger commanded the British forces to attack the Yangtze region (長江流域) and captured Shanghai (上海) and Zhenjiang (鎮江). The British forces carried on their momentum to advance westward on Nanjing (南京). On 29 August 1842, China and Britain signed the Treaty of Nanking (or Treaty of Nanjing, 《南京條約》), the first unequal treaty in modern Chinese history. The Article 3 of which stipulated the cession of Hong Kong Island to Britain.
A map showing the British-occupied Hong Kong territory referenced from the map adhered to the 1898 Convention Between Great Britain and China Respecting an Extension of Hong Kong Territory.
The British forces capturing Dinghai in 1840.
The Qing and British fleets fighting the Battle of Chuenpi in 1841.
Charles Elliot, the Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China, presented his demand that Hong Kong Island to be ceded to Britain to the Imperial Commissioner Qishan.
Possession Street in Sheung Wan, where the British forces landed on Hong Kong Island in January 1841.
The British forces forcing the Qing forces garrisoned on Hong Kong Island to withdraw in January 1841.
The British made an announcement on Hong Kong Island in 1841, claiming that the British occupation of Hong Kong Island was officially recorded.
The British forces capturing Zhenjiang in 1842, threatening Nanjing.
Britain defeated China in the First Opium War. On 29 August 1842, they signed the Treaty of Nanking on the British battleship. The Qing government ceded Hong Kong Island to Britain.
Hong Kong Island in 1842. The cession of Hong Kong Island had a far-reaching impact on Hong Kong and China.
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