Charming Aisa tours brings you deep into Hong Kongs History with their Hong Kong Adventure tours. The Brittish influence in Hong Kong started with there desire to sell the Chinese people opium. The money from this sale was then used to fund England’s other international adventures. Nonetheless, there was a moral conflict with building an empire funded by the drug trade. For the rest of the 1830s this whole matter of how to handle this matter of China trade was very hotly debated in Parliament. Lin Zexu’s justifiable actions taken against the British were all that Jardine and the other merchants needed, it was a gift from the gods, now they were able to easily go to their MPs and to the Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston and say “See, see, see, look what they done now! We got to take action!”
Lord Palmerston fired off a diplomatic letter to the Emperor, and in so many words said that …the present arrangement is no longer acceptable to the British side and they wanted some small insignificant island somewhere close by, of which there were hundreds to choose from…where British subjects could carry out their trade unmolested and free from the potential violence that had just recently happened.
Now again, the cessation of an island was negotiable, after all the objective was free trade, not to seize land from China. Elliot and his cousin, Rear Admiral George Elliot were made Plenipotentiaries and they went in and did their thing.
June 1840 they sailed out of Macau, first they blockaded Canton and then they blockaded the Port of Gungshan off the coat of Ni Pau, they weren’t there to fight a war, they simply wanted to show they meant business and to deliver a copy of Palmerston’s letter to the local authorities who would send it up the chain of command to the Emperor, in theory. With the British getting in too close for comfort, the Chinese sent in their negotiator to sit down and discuss matters in Canton. So they went back down south and assembled in Canton to hash things out, this was around August 1840, Captain Elliot was now the sole Plenipotentiary in charge of the negotiations. To say they were torturous was an understatement. Elliot knew in 10 seconds flat that he was just spinning his wheels trying to negotiate equitable terms.
By January 1841 everything had just fallen apart, and this is when things got serious. Captain Elliot led his small body of troops to seize and occupy the Chinese forts along the Bogue near Humen, and once this was successfully carried out the Chinese huddled together and after weighing all their options resigned themselves to the inevitable. This whole diplomatic mess was ultimately mopped up and the British were allowed to keep trading from Canton as long as they didn’t deal in opium, those who refused they couldn’t trade. Well Elliot did his best to enforce the ban…actually he himself was not a supporter of the opium trade and found it as odious as the next reasonable man.