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English ships sailed to Macau in the 1620s, which was leased by China to Portugal. The Unicorn, an English merchant ship, sank near Macau and the Portuguese dredged up sakers (cannon) from the ships and sold those to China around 1620, where they were reproduced as Hongyipao.
27 June 1637: Four heavily armed ships under Captain John Weddell, arrived at Macao in an attempt to open trade between England and China. They were not backed by the East India Company, but rather by a private group led by Sir William Courteen, including King Charles I's personal interest of £10,000. They were opposed by the Portuguese authorities in Macao (as their agreements with China required) and quickly infuriated the Ming authorities. Later, in the summer, they captured one of the Bogue forts, and spent several weeks engaged in low-level fighting and smuggling. After being forced to seek Portuguese help in the release of three hostages, they left the Pearl River on 27 December. It is unclear whether they returned home.
1833-35 As London ended the East India Company's monopoly on trade with China, both Tory and Whig governments sought to maintain peace and good trade relations. However Baron Napier wanted to provoke a revolution in China that would open trade. The Foreign Office, led by Lord Palmerston, stood opposed and sought peace.
1839-42 First Opium War, a decisive British victory. British goal was to enforce diplomatic equality and respect. The dominant British position was reflected by the biographer of the foreign minister Lord Palmerston:
Conflict between China and Britain was inevitable. On the one side was a corrupt, decadent and caste-ridden despotism, with no desire or ability to wage war, which relied on custom much more than force for the enforcement of extreme privilege and discrimination, and which was blinded by a deep-rooted superiority complex into believing that they could assert their supremacy over Europeans without possessing military power. On the other side was the most economically advanced nation in the world, a nation of pushing, bustling traders, of self-help, free trade, and the pugnacious qualities of John Bull.
An entirely opposite British viewpoint was promoted by humanitarians and reformers such as the Chartists and religious nonconformists led by young William Ewart Gladstone. They argued that Palmerston was only interested in the huge profits it would bring Britain, and was totally oblivious to the horrible moral evils of opium which the Chinese government was valiantly trying to stamp out.
1886 - After Britain took over Burma, they maintained the sending of tribute to China, putting themselves in a lower status than in their previous relations. It was agreed in the Burma Convention in 1886, that China would recognise Britain's occupation of Upper Burma while Britain continued the Burmese payment of tribute every ten years to Beijing.
1888 - War in Sikkim between the British and Tibetans. By the Treaty of Calcutta (1890), China recognises British suzerainty over northern Sikkim.
1898 - The British obtain a lease on Weihai Harbour, Shandong, to run for as long as the Russians lease Port Arthur. (The reference to the Russians was replaced with one to the Japanese after 1905). An incident occurred where Mail-steamers arrived in Shanghai and dropped off "four young English girls" in December 1898.
1900-1901 - The Boxer Rebellion; attacks on foreign missionaries and converts; repressed by Allied counterforce led by Britain and Japan.
4 May 1919 - The anti-imperialist May Fourth Movement begins in response to the Beiyang government's failure to secure a share of the victory spoils from the leading Allied Powers, after Britain sides with its treaty ally Japan on the Shandong Problem. From this point the ROC leadership moves away from Western models and towards the Soviet Union.
1922-1929: The United States, Japan and Britain supported different warlords. The US and Britain were hostile to the nationalists revolutionary government in Guangzhou (Canton) and supported Chen Jiongming's rebellion. Chinese reactions led to the Northern Expedition (1926-27) which finally unified China under Chiang Kai-shek.
30 May 1925 - Shanghai Municipal Police officers under British leadership kill nine people while trying to defend a police station from Chinese protesters, provoking the anti-British campaign known as the May 30 Movement.
19 February 1927 - Following riots on the streets of Hankow (Wuhan), the Chen-O'Malley Agreement is entered into providing for the hand over of the British Concession area to the Chinese authorities.
1929-1931. The key to Chinese sovereignty was to gain control of tariff rates, which Western powers had set at a low 5%, and to end the extra territoriality by which Britain and the others controlled Shanghai and other treaty ports. These goals were finally achieved in 1928-1931.
1937-41 - British public and official opinion favours China in its war against Japan, but Britain focuses on defending Singapore and the Empire and can give little help. It does provide training in India for Chinese infantry divisions, and air bases in India used by the Americans to fly supplies and warplanes to China.
Chiang-Kai-Shek and Winston Churchill, as allies against Japan 1941-1945.
1941-45 - Chinese and British fight side by side against Japan in World War II. The British train Chinese troops in India and use them in the Burma campaign.
October 2020 - Taiwan (ROC) donates a number of medical masks to the United Kingdom to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Donated masks were transferred to the NHS for distribution. The masks are among 7 million donated to European countries.
Between the UK and the People's Republic of China (1949-present)
The United Kingdom and the anti-Communist Nationalist Chinese government were allies during World War II. Britain sought stability in China after the war to protect its more than £300 million in investments, much more than from the United States. It agreed in the Moscow Agreement of 1945 to not interfere in Chinese affairs but sympathised with the Nationalists, who until 1947 were winning the Chinese Civil War against the Communist Party of China.
By August 1948, however, the Communists' victories caused the British government to begin preparing for a Communist takeover of the country. It kept open consulates in Communist-controlled areas and rejected the Nationalists' requests that British citizens assist in the defence of Shanghai. By December, the government concluded that although British property in China would likely be nationalised, British traders would benefit in the long run from a stable, industrialising Communist China. Retaining Hong Kong was especially important; although the Communists promised to not interfere with its rule, Britain reinforced the Hong Kong Garrison during 1949. When the victorious Communist government declared on 1 October 1949 that it would exchange diplomats with any country that ended relations with the Nationalists, Britain--after discussions with other Commonwealth members and European countries--formally recognised the People's Republic of China in January 1950.
6 January 1950 - The United Kingdom recognises the PRC as the government of China and posts a chargé d'affairesad interim in Beijing (Peking). The British expect a rapid exchange of Ambassadors. However, the PRC demands concessions on the Chinese seat at the UN and the foreign assets of the Republic of China.
17 June 1954 - Following talks at the Geneva Conference, the PRC agrees to station a chargé d'affaires in London. The same talks resulted in an agreement to re-open a British office in Shanghai, and the grant of exit visas to several British businessmen confined to the mainland since 1951.
June 1967 - Red Guards break into the British Legation in Beijing and assault three diplomats and a secretary. The PRC authorities refuse to condemn the action. British officials in Shanghai were attacked in a separate incident, as the PRC authorities attempted to close the office there.
23 August 1967 - A Red Guard mob sacks the British Legation in Beijing, slightly injuring the chargé d'affaires and other staff, in response to British arrests of Communist agents in Hong Kong. A Reuters correspondent, Anthony Grey, was also imprisoned by the PRC authorities.
29 August 1967 - Armed Chinese diplomats attack British police guarding the Chinese Legation in London.
13 March 1972 - PRC accords full recognition to the UK government, permitting the exchange of ambassadors. The UK acknowledges the PRC's position on Taiwan without accepting it.
July 2016 - China and the UK start a £1.3 million collaboration project on sustainable agricultural technology research, marking the latest addition to farming cooperation between the two countries.
March 2017 - To mark the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, China Plus, together with Renmin University, invites experts and researchers from China and the UK to discuss the future of bilateral relations.
February 2018 - British Prime Minister Theresa May visits China on a three-day trade mission and meets with China's paramount leader Xi Jinping, continuing the so-called "Golden Era" of Sino-British relations.
July 2019 - The UN ambassadors from 22 nations, including UK, signed a joint letter to the UNHRC condemning China's mistreatment of the Uyghurs as well as its mistreatment of other minority groups, urging the Chinese government to close the Xinjiang re-education camps.
On 20 July 2020, UK government decided to suspend the extradition treaty with China, over the treatment of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.
On 15 August 2020, the UK government suspended its military training with Hong Kong police amid worsening relations with China. Officials from the United Kingdom said the decision was being implemented because of COVID-19 pandemic. However, an MoD spokesperson confirmed that the contracts will be reviewed when the pandemic is over.
From 1 October 2020, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the British Government expanded the remit of its security vetting for overseas applicants wanting to study subjects relating to national security. The Times said in a report that "The measures are expected to block hundreds of Chinese students from entering Britain. Visas for those already enrolled will be revoked if they are deemed to pose a risk." 
On 6 October 2020, Germany's ambassador to the UN, on behalf of the group of 39 countries including Germany, the U.K. and the U.S., made a statement to denounce China for its treatment of ethnic minorities and for curtailing freedoms in Hong Kong.
On 7 October 2020, the UK Parliament's Defence Committee released a report claiming that there was clear evidence of collusion between Huawei and Chinese state and the Chinese Communist Party. The UK Parliament's Defence Committee said that the government should consider removal of all Huawei equipment from its 5G networks earlier than planned.
On 12 October, the UK began to consider sanctions on China over the breach of Hong Kong by implementing the National Security Law.
On 25 March, China sanctioned ten UK individuals, including former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith in retaliation for the sanctions on Chinese officials over Xinjiang.
On 23 April, MP's led by Sir Iain Duncan Smith passed a motion declaring the mass detention of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province a genocide. The United Kingdom is the fourth country in the world to make such action. In response, the Chinese Embassy in London said "The unwarranted accusation by a handful of British MPs that there is 'genocide' in Xinjiang is the most preposterous lie of the century, an outrageous insult and affront to the Chinese people, and a gross breach of international law and the basic norms governing international relations. China strongly opposes the UK's blatant interference in China's internal affairs."
On 1 August 2021 the Embassy of China, London criticized the BBC's coverage of the 2020 Summer Olympics, particularly its Taiwan related coverage. The embassy also condemned a News.com.au article cited by the BBC. The statement said that "The reports on the BBC Chinese website and news.com.au about the participation of 'Chinese Taipei' in Tokyo Olympics are unprofessional and severely misleading. The Chinese side is gravely concerned and strongly opposes this." On 4 August the embassy again criticized the BBC's coverage of Taiwan's participation in the Olympics saying that a BBC article explaining the history of Taiwan's Olympic moniker "Chinese Taipei" had been "sensationalizing the question of the 'Chinese Taipei' team at the Tokyo Olympics." and went on to state "[China] strongly urges these media to follow international consensus and professional conduct, to stop politicizing sports, and to stop interference with the Tokyo Olympic games."
The weekly-published Europe edition of China Daily is available in a few newsagents in the UK, and on occasions a condensed version called China Watch is published in the Daily Telegraph. The monthly NewsChina, the North American English-language edition of China Newsweek () is available in a few branches of WHSmith. Due to local censorship, British newspapers and magazines are not widely available in Mainland China, however the Economist and Financial Times are available in Hong Kong.
Like the press, China has a limited scope in the broadcasting arena. In radio, the international broadcaster China Radio International broadcasts in English over shortwave which isn't widely taken up and also on the internet. The BBC World Service is available in China by shortwave as well, although it is often jammed(See Radio jamming in China). In Hong Kong, the BBC World Service is relayed for eight hours overnight on RTHK Radio 4 which on a domestic FM broadcast.
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