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A close-up on: the Franco-British expedition to China, 1860

 


 
<i>Evening following the Battle of Baliqiao</i>

Evening following the Battle of Baliqiao


The allied expedition to China, launched in 1859 following the Taku Forts incident in June of that year, saw a large British and French force land set sail for China and defeat the imperial Chinese army at the Battle of Baliqiao on 21 September, 1860. The subsequent treaty, the Convention of Peking, was signed in October 1860 and resulted in China being opened up to foreign commerce (including the highly lucrative opium trade) and a western diplomatic presence within its territories. The Qing Empire was also forced to make huge indemnity payments to both France and Britain. The expedition is also famous for the burning of the Summer Palaces, an act ordered by the allied command in retaliation for the torture and execution of a number of western envoys and private individuals (including a Times journalist). The pillage of the Summer Palaces prior to the burning continues to have a knock-on effect today as a huge number of Chinese artefacts currently reside in foreign institutions, many of which were removed from China in 1860.
 
(September 2010)


 

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