07 Jun 2012

Speaker: Rtn Charles Lagrange. Topic: The treaty ports / Shanghai French Concession

Our speaker today was Rtn Charles Lagrange and his topic was “China’s Treaty Ports: Where East Met West”.  The ports of China opened to foreign trade in the mid-19th century because of pressure from powers such as Britain, France, Germany, the United States, and, in the case of China, Japan and Russia. In China the initial ports were opened to British traders in 1842 following China’s defeat in the Chinese-British trade conflict known as the first Opium War (1839-42).  The treaty port system began in Japan in 1854 after Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States sailed a fleet of gunships into Edo (now Tokyo) Bay and forced the Japanese to allow U.S. merchants into their country. Other Western nations rapidly followed the British and U.S. examples and gained treaty port privileges for their own citizens not only in China and Japan but also in Vietnam, Korea, and Siam (Thailand). Toward the end of the 19th century, as the Western countries demanded still more concessions from China, the number of Chinese treaty ports grew from 5 (Shanghai, Canton, Ningpo, Fuchow, and Amoy) in 1842.

The second group of British treaty ports was set up following the end of the Arrow War in 1860 and eventually more than 80 treaty ports were established in China alone, involving many foreign powers.

Foreigners, who were centered in foreign sections, newly built on the edges of existing port cities, enjoyed legal extraterritoriality as stipulated in Unequal Treaties. Foreign clubs, racecourses, and churches were established in major treaty ports. Some of these port areas were directly leased by foreign powers such as in the concessions in China, effectively removing them from the control of local governments.

Our Sergeant Rtn Stephen collected HK$1,460 for raffle and fines.  Rtn Sam got the raffle prize as a book.