'Exterior of North fort on Peiho River...', China, 21 August 1860.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of a fort on the Peiho River 'showing the English and French entrance', taken by Felice Beato during the Second Opium War (1855-1860). In October 1856, Chinese police boarded the British ship Arrow and charged its crew with smuggling. Eager to gain more trading rights, the British used the incident to precipitate the Second Opium War. British forces, aided by the French, won a quick military victory in 1857. When the Chinese government refused to ratify the Treaty of Tientsin, which had been signed in 1858, hostilities resumed. In 1860, after British and French troops had occupied Beijing and burned the Summer Palace, the Chinese agreed to ratify. The treaty opened additional trading ports, allowed foreign emissaries into Beijing, admitted Christian missionaries into China, and opened travel to the Chinese interior.