The 1850s were marked by the crisis of the European colonialism is Asia related to the struggle for national independence, civil wars, military coups, popular uprisings. Primarily, the uprising in Java against the Dutch colonialists, Indian sepoys' uprising in 1857-1859 against British colonial rule and the Taiping peasant rebellion in China in 1850-1864, which took at least 20-30 million lives and led to the Second Opium War. Numerous mass protests in the peripheral countries showed a deep economic and socio-political crisis of the colonial government. As to “The Opening to Japan”, it was held without the Europeans' participation. Moreover, these processes have led to the "Meiji Revolution", the reforms that have contributed to the strengthening of Japan's independence.
China's defeat in the First Opium War caused a wave of discontent among the general Chinese population. It was expressed in form of demonstrations against the foreigners and against the Manchu government. The plight of the peasants gradually led to the folding of the prerequisites of a new war against the ruling regime. In 1844, in the Guangdong Province a rural teacher who converted to Christianity, Hong Xiuquan created the "Heavenly Father's Society" ("Bai Hui Shandi"), based on the ideology which was the idea of universal brotherhood and people's equality, and set a goal to build the Heaven State of great prosperity in China (Taiping Tiangui). Hong Xiuquan was joined by other peasant leaders, Yang Xiuqin, acting with his supporters in the Guangxi Province, Xiao Chaoguy and others. By June 1850, the Taipings (as participants in the movement came to be called) were already a strongly organized force ready for action against the Qing's rule and the establishment of China's "just society" (Bhattacharyya 1).
Since the end of 1850, the first Taipings' activities against the authorities in the Province of Guangxi had set up, and in January next year in the village of Jingtian Taiping Tiangui announced a hike to the North in order to capture the capital city of Beijing. After the capture of Yunnan (in the north of Guangxi Province) Hong Xiuquan was proclaimed as Tian Wang (heavenly prince). The Taipings believed the Europeans were brothers because of the same Christian faith, so that willingly went with them on friendly exchanges. So at first, the foreigners treated the Taipings quite positive, hoping to play this card in their relations with the Qing. The rebels managed to capture the city of Wuchang, then, the Aiqing and to top spring of 1853 to master the largest center in the region, Nanjing. This city was declared the Taipings' Heavenly capital (Bhattacharyya 2).
The second "Opium War" (1856-1860)
In the first period of the Taiping movement, Western powers have repeatedly stated about their neutrality, but after the Shanghai event in 1853, it became clear that they were more inclined towards supporting the Qing. Nevertheless, in its desire to pursue a policy of "divide and rule", the British did not exclude the possibility of dividing China into two states, and even sent an official plenipotentiary delegation to Hong Xiuquan in order to obtain the right of navigation on the river of Yangtze as well as trade privileges in the lands controlled by the Taipings. Taiping leaders have given their consent, but in exchange for that they demanded a ban for the opium trade and respect for the Taiping Tiangui's laws.
In 1856, the situation has radically changed. In the Taiping camp began a crisis, which led to its weakening. The Qing was also in a very difficult position. Britain and France have decided to use a favorable moment to take military action in China to strengthen its dependence on them. The reason for the war was the events associated with a merchant vessel "Arrow", located in Guangzhou. At the end of October 1856 the British squadron began shelling the city. Then, the English were joined by France. In December 1857, the UK has brought China to the requirements of revising contracts, which were immediately rejected. Then the combined Anglo-French troops occupied Guangzhou, capturing the local governor. In 1858, Beijing turned out under the threat of the occupation.
Realizing that they could not succeed the fight on two fronts - the Taipings and foreign troops, the Chinese capitulated, signed in June 1858 treaties with Britain and France, in which the two powers obtained the right to open their diplomatic missions in Beijing, freedom of movement throughout China for their citizens, all of Christian missionaries, as well as the freedom of navigation on The Yangtze. As a result, were open five Chinese ports to trade with foreigners, including with opium (Newsinger 5).
Indian popular uprising 1857-1859
Drawing conclusions, it is worth emphasizing that the European colonizers, strangled the rebellions in 1850s, strengthened the colonial system in Asia, and precisely in this period we should look for reasons why the decolonization of the most Asian countries did not take place after the First World War. At that point, the national liberation movements were simply not yet strong enough (Purcell 4).
Bhattacharyya, Amit. "Taiping Rebellion, 1851–1864." Revolution Protest Encyclopedia. 14 Aug. 2008. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <http://www.revolutionprotestencyclopedia.com/fragr_image/media/IEO_Taiping_Rebellion_18511864>.
Newsinger, John. "Britain's Opium Wars." Monthly Review 1 Oct. 1997. Print.
Purcell, Hugh. "The Great Uprising in India 1857-1858: Untold Stories Indian and British.(Book Review)." History Today 1 Sept. 2007. Print.