Qishan (Qing Dynasty)

Qishan (Qing Dynasty)

Qishan (Chinese: 琦善, Manchu: "Cišan", 1790-1854) Manchu nobleman and high official during the late Qing dynasty, who is known for his role during the First Opium War.

Background and early career

Qishan came from the Borjigit clan and belonged to the Manchu Plain Yellow Banner in the Eight Banners. In 1808, he joined the Board of Punishment as an assistant department director and he subsequently held a number of important positions in the Qing government including the Viceroy of Liangjiang from 1825 to 1827.

Role during First Opium War

Following Lin Zexu's failure to push back the British in the First Opium War, the Daoguang emperor ordered Qishan to replace Lin as the Governor-General of Guangdong and Guangxi and entrusted him with the delicate task of negotiating a peace treaty with the British. Without getting appropriate sanction from the throne, Qishan signed the abortive Convention of Chuanbi with the British on 7 January 1841. Among other things, the convention ceded the island of Hong Kong to the British and that the Qing Empire pay an indemnity of 6 million dollars to the British. Because of this, Qishan was dimissed from his post and condemned to death, but the sentence was later commuted to banishment.

Later career and death

After the termination of hostilies in the Opium war, Qishan was reinstated in 1842 and he subsequently held a number of prominent positions in the government. Among other things, he served as the Qing imperial resident in Lhasa. After the outbreak of the Taiping rebellion, Qishan took active part in the suppression of the rebel forces and he died on the battlefield in 1854, trying to prevent the Taipings from capturing Jiangsu.

References

*Hummel, Arthur William, ed. "Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period (1644-1912)." 2 vols. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1943.

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