From Empire to Multiculturalism Essay Sample
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- Category: china
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From Empire to Multiculturalism Essay Sample
“That on his empire […] the sun never sets.”
– James Joyce, Ulysses As one of the most powerful empires on earth, the British Empire was able to establish colonies all over the globe. From the Caribbean islands, Africa, India and the Far East to Australia, New Zealand and the North America, the “Union Jack” flag  was flapping in the wind. In the Far East area,  getting India and China is the main goal of the British colonists. After India successfully became part of the British Empire, China naturally became the next target. II British colonial history in China
From 1842 until 1997, the British Colonialism existed in China for 156 years. This started with the Sino-British Opium War, which includes the First and the Second Opium War. 1. The first Opium War
The first Opium War took place from 1839 to 1842.  It is the first time the Chinese Empire (Qing Dynasty) encountered with a western European country in the battlefield. It is the beginning of the modern Chinese history  and China began to transform gradually from an independent feudal state into a semi-feudal, semi-colonial country. The Opium War is also the first chapter in the Chinese History textbook used in middle school and high school all over the nation. 1. Background of the First Opium War
In the late 1830s, the British Empire has grown into a worldwide superpower. During the First Industrial Revolution,  the British were eager to find overseas markets and to expand their international trade. On the other hand, even though China (Qing Dynasty) was still a powerful empire, there was little sign of Capitalism and no sign of Industrial Revolution. The Chinese emperor declared that “China is the center of the world and has everything we could ever need.” A Closed-door policy was practiced for a long time and foreign trade was only allowed in Guangzhou city. Therefore it was almost impossible for the British to conduct trade in China. By the late 1830s, the British East India Company has smuggled a large number of Indian opium to China in order to reduce the trade deficit. In 1839, the governor of Canton, Lin Zexu banned the opium trade and destroyed most of the British opium stock in Canton. This incident was interpreted as the infringement of private property right by the British, therefore led to outbreak of the war. 2. Process of the First Opium War
From 1840 to 1841, the British Royal Navy and Army attacked various places along the Chinese coastline. The Qing government adopted a negative attitude with defending the British troops. From Guangzhou, Zhejiang to Tianjin, there were a large number of casualties in Chinese army and civilians. It is noteworthy that in Sanyuanli, Guangdong, people were spontaneously organized to fight against the British, which was big difference from the Qing government. In August 1841, the British Navy attacked the mouth of Yangtze River and were threatening Nanjing city. The Qing government was forced to negotiate with the British Government. 3. Result and historical influence of the First Opium War In 1842, due to the incompetence and corruption, Qing government lost the war and was forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing. This treaty led to the Cession of Hong Kong Island to the British. Five Chinese ports were opened for foreign trade, and 21 million dollars were paid as indemnity of the war. This treaty is regard as the very first unequal treaty in Chinese modern history. The Chinese national sovereignty was damaged, and China began to become the commodity markets and raw materials supply areas in the world Capitalism system. 2. The Second Opium War
From 1856 to 1860, the Second Opium War was fought in China, between the Anglo-French Expedition Army and the Qing government. 1. Background of the Second Opium War
The Second Opium War was stared for the similar reasons of the First Opium War. In the 1850s, the growth of imperialism made the western European nations like France and Britain demanding for the expansion of their overseas markets. However, the rejection of the Qing government to the British proposal of opening all of China to foreign trade and legalizing all the opium trade made them decided it was time to launch a new war. 2. Process of the Second Opium War
In 1856, the British Navy entered Guangzhou city, one year later; France joined the action and the Anglo-French expedition occupied Guangzhou again. In 1860, Tianjin (Tientsin) city was lost and the capital city, Beijing (Peking) was threatened. The Chinese Emperor, Xianfeng, fled to Chengde city,  on the 13th October, Beijing was lost. After found out many British and French diplomatic envoys were dead, the Anglo-French troops in Beijing decided to retaliate, which led to the destruction of the Old Summer Palace (Yuan Ming Yuan). Many valuable artworks were destroyed or lost. 3. Result and historical influence of the Second Opium War The Second Opium War led to a bunch of treaties such as the Treaty of Tianjin and the Convention of Peking signed between the Qing government and different European powers, it deepened the Semi-colonial status of China. 3. The Post-Opium War History
After the Opium War, the British Empire continued to expand its influence in China; it acquired Kowloon through the Convention of Peking in 1860, the New Territories through The Second Convention of Peking in 1898, and it controlled most of the economic activities along the Yangtze River. In 1997, the sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred to the PRC. This officially ended the British colonial rule in China. Two years later, in 1999, the Portuguese government returned Macau to the PRC; this marked the end of European colonial history in China.
III British imperial heritage in China
“I have relinquished the administration of this government. God Save the Queen.” – Chris Patten, the last Governor of British Hong Kong 
Even though the British colonial rule is finished in China, its influence is far from over. For more than a century, Hong Kong is considered as the bridge between the mainland China and the western world. The political and economic system set up in Hong Kong has made it one of the most competitive cities on this planet, and its culture kept gives inspirations to the rest part of China and makes people learn from it. These are the valuable heritages that the British have left. 2.1 The political heritage
Anyone who has ever been to both Hong Kong and the mainland China will surely find out about the enormous difference of the political system between these two places. These differences vary from the legal system, the election to Human rights. To the people in PRC, Hong Kong is the “freedom land” where massive demonstrations against the government are allowed, and doesn’t have the issues of corruption or the independence of the judiciary. It is considered the pioneer of Chinese democracy. It is the place chosen by the mainland China and Taiwan to have the first peace talk in 1992. 2.1.1 Legal system.
Different from mainland China’s civil law system, Hong Kong continues to follow the English Common Law tradition established under British rule. Its legal system is completely independent from the legal system of Mainland China and is well established, whereas the legal system of PRC is often questioned for its judicial independence. 2.1.2 Election
Like UK, Hong Kong has a multi-party system; no single political party could come in power alone,  this gives the people in mainland China ideas and inspirations on how to reform the current political system, which is criticized a lot nowadays. The elections system in HK also helped the political reform in the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the 80s.
2.1.3 Human rights
Hong Kong has a reputation of high standard Fundamental rights. For example, internet websites will not be blocked or censored as they do in mainland; there is a much bigger freedom in media such as newspapers and TVs. This is valuable to the people in HK. 2.2 The economic heritage
In 1842, when the British took over Hong Kong, it was just a small fishing village. Now it is one of the world’s biggest international financial centers with a population of more than 7 million people. As one of the four “Asian Tigers”, Hong Kong’s has archived an economic miracle, and also its economy has a strong mark of the British style. 2.2.1 Capitalism
Milton Friedman described Hong Kong as “the world’s greatest experiment in laissez-faire capitalism”.  During the British rule, it has established a well-developed capitalist economy, ranked the freest in the world by the Index of Economic Freedom for 15 consecutive years.  This gave the mainland China an idea of the opening policy in the early 1970s. The first and one of the most successful Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Shenzhen city, was established just north of Hong Kong.  2.2.2 Banking industry
As early as 1970s, there was a saying of “there are more banks in Hong Kong than rice shops” to describe the prosperity of banking industry. Similar to “the City” in London, Hong Kong has a large number of multinational banks. The HSBC (The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) has developed into widely known global banking and financial services company.  2.2.4 International trade
Hong Kong is known as a free port, an international shipping center and regional trade center, followed the British tradition of being expert in trade. Hong Kong is one of the world’s busiest container ports and the gateway of Chinese products. 2.3 The cultural heritage and ideological legacy
On 12 September 2005, the first Disneyland in China opened to visitors in Hong Kong,  as they describe Hong Kong is a place where “East meets West”. Influenced by British colonialism, the mentality of people in HK is mixed with traditional Chinese culture and western culture. Hong Kong has a large number of writers, singers and movie stars who have a huge influence on mainland China. 2.3.1 Education system and Universities
The British left their education system in Hong Kong, which has trained large number of people who promote social progress in China. English, as an official language, is widely used is Hong Kong, which spurs the English learning wave in mainland China. The University of Hong Kong, was described by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) as a “world-class comprehensive research university”,  was rank the first place in Asia, 29th in the world. The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong were ranked 35th and 46th in the world in 2009.  These are the dream place for the Chinese students to study. 2.3.2 Film and the entertainment industry
Hong Kong could be recognized as the Hollywood in Asia. It has a highly developed film and the entertainment industry. The martial arts film genre is famous worldwide with actors like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-fat. IV The presence of the Chinese people and culture in contemporary Britain The Chinese people in Britain account for 0.4 percent of the total population in 2001.  Many of them came from the south part of China and Hong Kong. The Chinese restaurants are commonly found all over the UK as a large proportion of the Chinese employed in the catering industry.  3.1 The Chinese communities and Chinatowns in contemporary Britain The British Chinese community is the second largest in Western Europe and thought to be the oldest; many of them live in Britain for generations. Meanwhile, it is the fastest growing ethnic group in the UK, due to immigration. In the major cities in Britain such as London, Manchester and Liverpool, Chinatowns could be spotted in the city center, usually with Asian supermarkets and Chinese restaurants in them. 3.2 The Chinese culture in contemporary Britain
The most visible Chinese cultural activity would be during the Chinese New Year. Many different kinds of celebrations take place on the street from dragon and lion dance to set off firecrackers. In recent years, an upsurge of Chinese leaning took place in Britain and in Europe, as a result of the rapid economic growth in China. V The sense of origin and identity of Chinese people in Britain In general, most of the British Chinese people would be treated as the British rather than Chinese, even though they have a strong traditional Chinese culture background. This is mainly because the current Chinese government in PRC has the issues of human rights, freedom and liberty, etc. According to a survey, most of the people living in Hong Kong would like be treated as “Hongkongese” than Chinese. Because the problem of the universal values in mainland China, people might have aloofness to the Chinese identity, however the Chinese culture is still very attractive to them. VI Conclusion
Thought out the writing of this thesis, I have found out that the world is becoming a “smaller place” and Globalization is picking up its pace. Fifty years ago, I would probably not have the chance of studying in France and writing this paper, but now it is all possible. The information technology revolution is changing the way world runs. In history, a powerful empire could rule worldwide regions just by communications though horseback, now it seems unrealistic. Also, I have found out that the different points of view were explained regarding the Opium War on the western sources and the Chinese sources, websites. Sometimes they are antithetical and opposite to each other. It is my wish that as time pass and though Globalization and Communication, we could become more rational and neutral eventually.
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