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Lord Palmerston's Liberal Internationalist Policies Essay

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Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston was guided in his conduct of foreign policy by his belief in free trade, his determination to keep the balance of power in Europe, and his dislike of autocratic governments. Lord Palmerston became one of the politicians most known for his liberal internationalism, sometimes called liberal interventionism. His determination to see his principles turned into action often led him to some severe policies, and consequently he was seen as caustic by his rivals, earning him the nickname ‘Lord Pumice Stone’.1 His resolve to support British supremacy in all foreign matters is exemplified through his early use of gunboat diplomacy. This is also seen through his multiple attempts to maintain the balance…show more content…
Aside from the affront to liberal free trade ideology, Palmerston saw the Chinese attitude toward British diplomats as an insult. Chinese officials refused to accept British diplomats as equals to their own elite classes. In Jasper Ridley’s book, Lord Palmerston, Ridley explains that all communication to the Chinese government had to begin with the word ‘Pin‘ which indicated an inferior petitioning a superior.3 The fact that representatives of the British crown were made to behave like subordinates to the Chinese Emperor was seen by Palmerston as a detriment to British prestige. Palmerston made several attempts to rectify the imbalance of acknowledgment in British-Chinese relations. Palmerston’s first effort was in sending Lord William John Napier, a family friend of his, to attempt to expand trade in China and to enter into discourse on equal terms. Napier was to do this without offending the Chinese, but by acting as an envoy of the King of England on equal footing, and not as an inferior. After the negotiation led by Napier failed disastrously due to the two sides disagreeing on etiquette, Napier was forced to evacuate the country. Following Napier’s failure, Palmerston sent Captain Charles Elliot, another friend of his, to attempt the same changes that Lord Napier had attempted. Elliot, however, eventually got into an altercation with the Chinese as well
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