By using this site you accept the
terms of our Cookie Policy

You are in: Collections > Coins & Medals > Collection > Watson Medals Catalogue > ...

Second China War Medal, with bar for Canton 1857, issued 1861

Second China War Medal, 1861

Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria

Second China War Medal, 1861

Reverse, a collection of war trophies including a royal shield below palm tree

<- Previous | Next ->

Back to gallery page

Second China War Medal, 1861 (Second Anglo-Chinese War, Second Opium War)

Increasing competition from the USA and France for Chinese trade concessions, against a background of extreme Chinese reluctance to co-operate with British trading interests after the First Opium War, led Britain to demand new trading concessions of China in 1854 to secure its `most favoured nation' status. China rejected this demand, and resentment on the ground eventually came to a boil with the seizure by Chinese authorities of a Hong Kong steamer, the Arrow, which the British claimed as a breach of their rights. In retaliation British forces seized the fort of Guangzhou (Canton), with help from US naval vessels, but were driven out of the city when its people and soldiery ignored their governor's order not to resist. Reinforcements for the British were soon sent from India, although slowly because of the concurrent First War of Indian Independence (usually known as the Indian Mutiny).
Similar tensions and incidents led to France joining Britain in the war, and coalition forces once massed took Guangzhou in 1857, exiling the governor, Ye Mingshen, to India where he died of self-imposed starvation. An initial treaty was settled between France, Russia, the USA and Britain at Tientsin in 1858, but the Chinese signatory's authority was disputable, and when China refused to honour the Treaty's terms further fighting ensued.
The recipient of this medal was one of those involved in the 1857 capture of Guangzhou. The medal is unnamed, and the recipient cannot be identified. Lester Watson purchased the piece at some point before 1928.