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Second China War Medal, with bars for China 1842 & 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

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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 over 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, upon whom it was imposed without agreement, ignored its terms leading to further fighting.
Despite the issue of the First China War Medal for the previous conflict of 1839-1842, when the medal for the 1857-1860 campaign was issued in 1861 a small number of bars for the previous war were awarded with it, of which this medal bears one. The circumstances in which this bar was supposed to be awarded are now unclear; if as has been suggested it was actually for attachment to the First China War Medal in lieu of issue of the Second one, this seems to have fallen foul of the fact that that medal's suspension was not designed to carry clasps, which were therefore attached as here to the Second Medal instead. The other bar on this piece was awarded for involvement in the 1857 capture of Guangzhou.
This medal is unnamed, and the recipient cannot be identified. Lester Watson acquired the medal at some point before 1928.