Practically all accounts of British intervention in support of the Manchu rulers of China against the Taiping rebellion present it as a calculated and deliberate change of policy by the British government which followed more or less immediately upon the ratification of the Treaty of Tientsin and of the Convention of Peking at the end of 1860. Having forced extensive commercial and diplomatic concessions from the Manchu government by these treaties, so the usual argument runs, the Western powers in China, led by Great Britain, quickly set about helping this just-defeated enemy suppress a domestic rebellion which, in the view of many modern historians, offered a more hopeful and progressive alternative to the Chinese people than did the continuance of Manchu rule, but which was regarded as a threat to their interests by these powers.

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