Shipping in a Chinese river
In 1842 the Opium War between Britain and China ended with the signing of the Treaty of Nanking. This effectively opened up the five main Chinese ports of Canton, Amoy, Ningpo, Shanghai and Foochow to European traders, who needed considerable naval protection from the persistent depredations of Chinese pirates. This is a view across the Pearl River at Canton in southern China towards the European 'factories' or trading posts, which the European merchants were not allowed to leave. Canton was the centre of China's tea trade with Europe and by 1794 Britain was buying four million kilograms of tea each year, in a trade strictly controlled by China.
- Image reference: BHC1785
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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