This treaty is associated with the so-called second opium war between Britain and China. The concessions of the earlier (1842) treaty of Nanking only whetted the appetites of British producers of legal goods for further expansion of the China trade beyond the handful of coastal towns designated under the 1842 treaty. Great profits, for example, were expected by the British cotton manufacturers if China's millions throughout the vast country could be reached directly. The Chinese government, however, remained adamantly opposed to any liberalization of the existing trade. Not until 1856 did an event occur that offered the opportunity to confront Chinese high-handedness (as viewed by Britain). When Chinese harbor police at Canton boarded a private boat flying the British flag in search of a known bandit, a fracas occurred which induced the truculent governor of (British) Hong Kong to demand an apology. None was forthcoming from the stubborn Chinese governor of Canton. The hostilities that ensued ended two years later in the second 'unequal' treaty imposed on China. The treaty of Tientsin yielded all Britain's demands for opening up the interior even to the import, by default, of the hitherto illegal opium
HER MAJESTY the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and His
Majesty the Emperor of China, being desirous to put an end to the existing
misunderstanding between the two countries, and to place their relations on a more
satisfactory footing in future, have resolved to proceed to a revision and improvement of
the Treaties existing between them; and, for that purpose, have named as their
Plenipotentiaries . . . . etc, etc.
Who, after having communicated to each other their respective powers, and found them to be in good and due form, have agreed upon and concluded the following Articles:
The Treaty of Peace and Amity between the two nations, signed at Nanking on the 29th
day of August, in the year 1842, is hereby renewed and confirmed.
The Supplementary Treaty and General Regulations of Trade having been amended and improved, and the substance of their provisions having been incorporated in this Treaty, the said Supplementary Treaty and General Regulations of Trade are hereby abrogated.
For the better preservation of harmony in future, Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and His Majesty the Emperor of China mutually agree that, in accordance with the universal practice of great and friendly nations, Her Majesty the Queen, may, if she see fit, appoint ambassadors, ministers, or other diplomatic agents to the Court of Peking; and His Majesty the Emperor of China may, in like manner, if he see fit, appoint ambassadors, ministers, or other diplomatic agents to the Court of St. James.
His Majesty the Emperor of China hereby agrees that the ambassador, minister, or other
diplomatic agent, so appointed by Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, may reside,
with his family and establishment, permanently at the capital, or may visit it occasionally,
at the option of the British Government. He shall not be called upon to perform any
ceremony derogatory to him as representing the Sovereign of an independent nation on a
footing of equality with that of China. On the other hand, he shall use the same forms of
ceremony and respect to His Majesty the Emperor as are employed by the ambassadors,
ministers, or diplomatic agents of Her Majesty towards the Sovereigns of independent and
equal European nations.
It is further agreed, that Her Majesty's Government may acquire at Peking a site for building, or may hire houses for the accommodation of Her Majesty's Mission, and that the Chinese Government will assist it in so doing.
Her Majesty's Representative shall be at liberty to choose his own servants and attendants, who shall not be subjected to any kind of molestation whatever.
Any person guilty of disrespect or violence to Her Majesty's Representative, or to any member of his family or establishment, in deed or word, shall be severely punished.
It is further agreed, that no obstacle or difficulty shall be made to the free movements of
Her Majesty's Representative, and that he, and the persons of his suite, may come and go,
and travel at their pleasure. He shall, moreover, have full liberty to send and receive his
correspondence, to and from any point on the sea-coast that he may select; and his letters
and effects shall be held sacred and inviolable. He may employ, for their transmission,
special couriers, who shall meet with the same protection and facilities for travelling as the
persons employed in carrying despatches for the Imperial Government; and, generally, he
shall enjoy the same privileges as are accorded to officers of the same rank by the usage
and consent of Western nations.
All expenses attending the Diplomatic Mission of Great Britain in China shall be borne by the British Government.
His Majesty the Emperor of China agrees to nominate one of the Secretaries of State, or a President of one of the Boards, as the high officer with whom the ambassador, minister, or other diplomatic agent of Her Majesty the Queen shall transact business, either personally or in writing, on a footing of perfect equality.
Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain agrees that the privileges hereby secured shall be enjoyed in her dominions by the ambassadors, ministers, or diplomatic agents of the Emperor of China, accredited to the Court of Her Majesty.
Her Majesty the Queen may appoint one or more Consuls in the dominions of the Emperor of China; and such Consul or Consuls shall be at liberty to reside in any of the open ports or cities of China, as Her Majesty the Queen may consider most expedient for the interests of British commerce. They shall be treated with due respect by the Chinese authorities, and enjoy the same privileges and immunities as the Consular officers of the most favoured nation . . . .
The Christian religion, as professed by Protestants or Roman Catholics, inculcates the practice of virtue, and teaches man to do as he would be done by. Persons teaching or professing it, therefore, shall alike be entitled to the protection of the Chinese authorities, nor shall any such, peaceably pursuing their calling, and not offending against the law, be persecuted or interfered with.
British subjects are hereby authorized to travel, for their pleasure or for purposes of
trade, to all parts of the interior, under passports which will be issued by their Consuls,
and countersigned by the local authorities. These passports, if demanded, must be
produced for examination in the localities passed through. If the passport be not irregular,
the bearer will be allowed to proceed, and no opposition shall be offered to his hiring
persons or hiring vessels for the carriage of his baggage or merchandize. If he be without
a passport, or if he commit any offence against the law, he shall be handed over to the
nearest Consul for punishment; but he must not be subjected to any ill-usage in excess of
necessary restraint. No passport need be applied for by persons going on excursions from
the ports open to trade to a distance not exceeding 100 li, and for a period not exceeding
The provisions of this Article do not apply to crews of ships, for the due restraint of whom regulations will be drawn up by the Consul and the local authorities.
To Nanking, and other cities disturbed by persons in arms against the Government, no pass shall be given, until they shall have been recaptured.
British merchant ships shall have authority to trade upon the Great River (Yang-tse). The
Upper and Lower Valley of the river being, however, disturbed by outlaws, no port shall
be for the present opened to trade, with the exception of Chin-kiano, which shall be
opened in a year from the date of the signing of this Treaty.
So soon as peace shall have been restored, British vessels shall also be admitted to trade at such ports as far as Han-kow, not exceeding three in number, as the British Minister, after consultation with the Chinese Secretary of State, may determine shall be ports of entry and discharge.
In addition to the cities and towns of Canton, Amoy, Fuchow, Ningpo, and Shanghai,
opened by the Treaty of Nanking, it is agreed that British subjects may frequent the cities
and ports of New Chwang, Tang-Chow, Tai-Wan (Formosa), Chau-Chow (Swatow), and
They are permitted to carry on trade with whomsoever they please, and to proceed to and fro at pleasure with their vessels and merchandise.
They shall enjoy the same privileges, advantages, and immunities, at the said towns and ports, as they enjoy at the ports already opened to trade, including the right of residence, of buying or renting houses, of leasing land therein, and of building churches, hospitals, and cemeteries.
British subjects, whether at the ports or at other places, desiring to build or open houses, warehouses, churches, hospitals, or burialgrounds, shall make their agreement for the land or buildings they require, as the rates prevailing among the people, equitably, and wtihout exactions on either side.
The Chinese Government will place no restrictions whatever upon the employment, by
British subjects, of Chinese subjects in any lawful capacity.
British subjects may hire whatever boats they please for the transport of goods or passengers, and the sum to be paid for such boats shall be settled between the parties themselves, without the interference of the Chinese Government. The number of these boats shall not be limited, nor shall a monopoly in respect either of the boats, or of the porters or coolies engaged in carrying the goods, be granted to any parties. If any smuggling takes place in them, the offenders will, of course, be punished according to law . . . .
All questions in regard to rights, whether of property or person, arising between British subjects, shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the British authorities.
Chinese subjects who may be guilty of any criminal act towards British subjects shall be
arrested and punished by the Chinese authorities, according to the laws of China.
British subjects who may commit any crime in China shall be tried and punished by the Consul, or other public functionary authorized thereto, according to the laws of Great Britain.
Justice shall be equitably and impartially administered on both sides.
A British subject having reason to complain of a Chinese, must proceed to the Consulate, and state his grievance. The Consul will inquire into the merits of the case, and do his utmost to arrange it amicably. In like manner if a Chinese have reason to complain of a British subject, the Consul shall no less listen to his complaint, and endeavour to settle it in a friendly manner. If disputes take place of such a nature that the Consul cannot arrange them amicably, then he shall request the assistance of the Chinese authorities, that they may together examine into the merits of the case, and decide it equitably.
The Chinese authorities shall at all times afford the fullest protection to the persons and property of British subjects, whenever these shall have been subjected to insult or violence. In all cases of incendiarism or robbery, the local authorities shall at once take the necessary steps for the recovery of the stolen property, the suppression of disorder, and the arrest of the guilty parties, whom they will punish according to law.
If any British merchant-vessel, while within Chinese waters, be plundered by robbers or pirates, it shall be the duty of the Chinese authorities to use every endeavour to capture and punish the said robbers or pirates, and to recover the stolen property, that it may be handed over to the Consul for restoration to the owner.
If any British vessel be at any time wrecked or stranded on the coast of China, or be compelled to take refuge in any port within the dominions of the Emperor of China, the Chinese authorities, on being apprized of the fact, shall immediately adopt measures for its relief and security; the persons on board shall receive friendly treatment, and shall be furnished, if necessary, with the means of conveyance to the nearest Consular station.
If criminals, subjects of China, shall take refuge in Hong Kong, or on board the British
ships there, they shall, upon due requisition by the Chinese authorities, be searched for,
and, on proof of their guilt, be delivered up.
In like manner, if Chinese offenders take refuge in the houses or on board the vessels of British subjects at the open ports, they shall not be harbored or concealed, but shall be delivered up, on due requisition by the Chinese authorities, addressed to the British Consul.
Should any Chinese subject fail to discharge debts incurred to a British subject, or should he fraudulently abscond, the Chinese authorities will do their utmost to effect his arrest, and enforce recovery of the debts. The British authorities will likewise do their utmost to bring to justice any British subject fraudulently absconding or failing to discharge debts incurred by him to a Chinese subject.
Should natives of China who may repair to Hong Kong to trade incur debts there, the recovery of such debts must be arranged for by the English Courts of justice on the spot; but should the Chinese debtor abscond, and be known to have property, real or personal, within the Chinese territory, it shall be the duty of the Chinese authorities, on application by, and in concert with, the British Consul, to do their utmost to see justice done between the parties.
It is agreed that British subjects shall pay, on all merchandise imported or exported by them, the duties prescribed by the tariff; but in no case shall they be called upon to pay other or higher duties than are required of the subjects of any other foreign nation.
Import duties shall be considered payable on the landing of the goods, and duties of export on the shipment of the same.
Whereas the tariff fixed by Article X of the Treaty of Nanking, and which was estimated so as to impose on imports and exports a duty at about the rate of 5 per cent. ad valorem, has been found, by reason of the fall in value of various articles of merchandise, therein enumerated, to impose a duty upon these considerably in excess of the rate originally assumed as above to be a fair rate, it is agreed that the said tariff shall be revised, and that as soon as the Treaty shall have been signed, application shall be made to the Emperor of China to depute a high officer of the Board of Revenue to meet, at Shanghai, officers to be deputed on behalf of the British Government, to consider its revision together, so that the tariff, as revised, may come into operation immediately after the ratification of this Treaty.
It is agreed that either of the High Contracting Parties to this Treaty may demand a further revision of the tariff, and of the commercial Articles of this Treaty, at the end of 10 years; but if no demand be made on either side within 6 months after the end of the first 10 years, then the tariff shall remain in force for 10 years more, reckoned from the end of the preceding 10 years; and so it shall be, at the end of each successive period of 10 years.
Whereas it was agreed in Article X of the Treaty of Nanking, that British imports, having
paid the tariff duties, should be conveyed into the interior free of all further charges,
except a transit duty, the amount whereof was not to exceed a certain percentage on tariff
value; and whereas no accurate information having been furnished of the amount of such
duty, British merchants have constantly complained that charges are suddenly and
arbitrarily imposed by the provincial authorities as transit duties upon produce on its way
to the foreign market, and on imports on their way into the interior, to the detriment of
trade; it is agreed that within four months from the signing of this Treaty, at all ports now
open to British trade, and within a similar period at all ports that may hereafter be opened,
the authority appointed to superintend the collection of duties shall be obliged, upon
application of the Consul, to declare the amount of duties levyable on produce between
the place of production and the port of shipment, and upon imports between the Consular
port in question and the inland markets named by the Consul; and that a notification
thereof shall be published in English and Chinese for general information.
But it shall be at the option of any British subject, desiring to convey produce purchased inland to a port, or to convey imports from a port to an inland market, to clear his goods of all transit duties, by payment of a single charge. The amount of this charge shall be levyable on exports at the first barrier they may have to pass, or, on imports, at the port at which they are landed; and on payment thereof, a certificate shall be issued, which shall exempt the goods from all further inland charges whatsoever.
It is further agreed, that the amount of this charge shall be calculated, as nearly as possible, at the rate of 2 1/2 per cent. ad valorem, and that it shall be fixed for each article at the Conference to be held at Shanghai for the revision of the tariff.
It is distinctly understood that the payment of transit dues, by commutation or otherwise, shall in no way affect the tariff duties on imports or exports, which will continue to be levied separately and in full . . . .
Any vessel clearing from any of the open ports of China for any other of the open ports, or for Hong-Kong, shall be entitled, on application of the master, to a special certificate from the Customs, on exhibition of which she shall be exempted from all further payment of tonnage dues in any open port of China, for a period of 4 months, to be reckoned from the date of her port clearance.
The master of any British merchant-vessel may, within 48 hours after the arrival of his vessel, but not later, decide to depart without breaking bulk, in which case he will not be subject to pay tonnage dues. But tonnage dues shall be held due after the expiration of the said 48 hours. No other fees or charges upon entry or departure shall be levied.
No tonnage dues shall be payable on boats employed by British subjects in the conveyance of passengers, baggage, letters, articles of provision, or other articles not subject to duty, between any of the open ports. All cargo boats, however, conveying merchandize subject to duty shall pay tonnage dues once in 6 months . . .
The Consuls and Superintendents of Customs shall consult together regarding the erection of beacons or lighthouses, and the distribution of buoys and light-ships, as occasion may demand . . . .
Whenever a British merchant-vessel shall arrive off one of the open ports, the Superintendent of Customs shall depute one or more Customs officers to guard the ship. They shall either live in a boat of their own, or stay on board the ship, as may best suit their convenience. Their food and expenses shall be supplied them from the Custom- House, and they shall not be entitled to any fees whatever from the master or consignee. Should they violate this regulation, they shall be punished proportionately to the amount exacted.
Within 24 hours after arrival, the ship's papers, bills of lading, &c., shall be lodged in
the hands of the Consul, who will, within a further period of 24 hours, report to the
Superintendent of Customs the name of the ship, her register tonnage, and the nature of
her cargo. If, owing to neglect on the part of the master, the above rule is not complied
with within 48 hours after the ship's arrival, he shall be liable to a fine of 50 taels for
every day's delay; the total amount of penalty, however, shall not exceed 200 taels
[under China’s complex currency system, the tael, or ounce of silver, was the unit of
The master will be responsible for the correctness of the manifest, which shall contain a full and true account of the particulars of the cargo on board. For presenting a false manifest, he will subject himself to a fine Of 500 taels; but he will be allowed to correct, within 24 hours after delivery of it to the Customs officers, any mistake he may discover in his manifest, without incurring this penalty.
After receiving from the Consul the report in due form, the Superintendent of Customs shall grant the vessel a permit to open hatches. If the master shall open hatches and begin to discharge any goods without such permission, he shall be fined 500 taels, and the goods discharged shall be confiscated wholly.
Any British merchant who has cargo to land or ship, must apply to the Superintendent of Customs for a special permit. Cargo landed or shipped without such permit, will be liable to confiscation.
No transshipment from one vessel to another can be made without special permission, under pain of confiscation of the goods so transhipped.
When all dues and duties shall have been paid, the Superintendent of Customs shall give a port-clearance, and the Consul shall then return the ship's papers, so that she may depart on her voyage.
With respect to articles subject, according to the Tariff, to an ad valorem duty, if the British merchant cannot agree with the Chinese officer in fixing a value, then each party shall call two or three merchants to look at the goods, and the highest price at which any of these merchants would be willing to purchase them, shall be assumed as the value of the goods . . . .
The Chinese authorities at each port shall adopt the means they may judge most proper to prevent the revenue suffering from fraud or smuggling.
British merchant-vessels are not entitled to resort to other than the ports of trade declared open by this Treaty. They are not unlawfully to enter other ports in China, or to carry on clandestine trade along the coasts thereof. Any vessel violating this provision, shall, with her cargo, be subject to confiscation by the Chinese Government.
If any British merchant-vessel be concerned in smuggling, the goods, whatever their value or nature, shall be subject to confiscation by the Chinese authorities, and the ship may be prohibited from trading further, and sent away as soon as her accounts shall have been adjusted and paid.
All penalties enforced, or confiscations made, under this Treaty, shall belong and be appropriated to the public service of the Government of China.
All official communications, addressed by the Diplomatic and Consular Agents of Her Majesty the Queen to the Chinese authorities, shall, henceforth, be written in English. They will for the present be accompanied by a Chinese version, but it is understood that, in the event of there being any difference of meaning between the English and Chinese text, the English Government will hold the sense as expressed in the English text to be the correct sense. This provision is to apply to the Treaty now negotiated, the Chinese text of which has been carefully corrected by the English original.
It is agreed, that henceforward the character "I" ('barbarian') shall not be applied to the Government or subjects of Her Britannic Majesty, in any Chinese official document issued by the Chinese authorities, either in the capital or in the provinces.
British ships of war coming for no hostile purpose, or being engaged in the pursuit of pirates, shall be at liberty to visit all ports within the dominions of the Emperor of China and shall receive every facility for the purchase of provisions, procuring water, and. if occasion require, for the making of repairs. The Commanders of such ships shall hold intercourse with the Chinese authorities on terms of equality and courtesy.
In consideration of the injury sustained by native and foreign commerce from the prevalence of piracy in the seas of China, the High Contracting Parties agree to concert measures for its supression.
The British Government and its subjects are hereby confirmed in all privileges, immunities, and advantages conferred on them by previous Treaties; and it is hereby expressly stipulated, that the British Government and its subjects will be allowed free and equal participation in all privileges, immunities, and advantages that may have been, or may be hereafter, granted by His Majesty the Emperor of China to the Government or subjects of any other nation.
The ratifications of this Treaty .. . shall be exchanged at Peking, within
a year from this day of signature.
In token whereof, the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed and sealed this Treaty.
Done at Tien-tsin, this 26th day of June, in the year of our Lord 1858 . . . . corresponding with the Chinese date.