Opium was cheap and plentiful during the time of the Qing dynasty and China suffered many addiction problems. British were getting tired of outside trading and wanted to trade directly with China. China had little need from the west and as a direct result the smuggling of opium began. Opium was forbidden in China and the emperor ordered destruction of all opium to try and stop British merchants from smuggling in vast quantities of opium into China. Britain declared war in 1839 and won easily as China was unable to withstand modern arms and was forced to sign the treaty of Nanjing, the first unequal treaty. British made china open up 5 more ports, making China surrender political control over Hong Kong. They also paid 12 million dollars of compensation for the cost of the war and Britain controlled Chinese trade. In 1856 a second war broke out and China signed the treaty of Tanjin in which the British, French, Russians and the U.S opened up 11 more ports to Western Trade.
Britain’s victory in these wars resulted in the formulation of unequal treaties leading to the creation of six spheres of influence. A sphere of influence is a spatial region over which a state has a significant cultural, economic, military or political influence. Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Japan all had a sphere in China. Foreign countries competed with each other to trade directly with China and China was too weak to do anything about it. USA was worried, as they did not have a sphere of influence. In 1899 Americans tried to make an ‘Open Door’ policy, meaning anybody can trade anywhere but the other countries disagreed. America proposed the Open Door policy again in 1900 and China was too weak to complain. The balance of power had