missionary leadership (with the exception of the occasional priest who was smuggled into the country from Macao), and only inadequately served by the few ordained Chinese priests, the Catholic communities operated in a quasiunderground fashion. Nevertheless, persecution was usually only sporadic, and in the 1790s there remained some 200,000 Catholics, concentrated in the provinces of Sichuan, Jiangsu and Chihli (today's Hebei). These communities operated increasingly under the direction of lay catechists and other Chinese leaders, including some women in orders of Christian virgins. Then after 1800, partly owing to increased government sensitivity to heterodoxy because of the White Lotus Rebellion of the late 1790s and other religious sectarian unrest, Catholics came under renewed and frequent persecution and suppression in the early nineteenth century.
Meanwhile, Protestant missions began in 1807 with the arrival of Robert Morrison (1782-1834) of the London Missionary Society (LMS). The first several decades of Protestant work were both geographically and functionally restricted. Missionaries, like merchants, could reside for only part of the year in a small harbour area of Canton (Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province), or year-round in nearby Portuguese Macao. Thus the first generation of Protestant missionaries also did extensive work among the Chinese communities in South-East Asia, especially in Malacca, Penang and other sites. By 1839 and the outbreak of the Opium War there were more than twenty Protestant missionaries in the Canton-Macao-South-East Asia orbit, mostly British. The first non-British Protestant was the flamboyant Karl Friedrich August Gutzlaff (1803-51); the first Americans were Elijah Coleman Bridgman (1801-61) and David Abeel (1804-46) of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, who arrived in Canton in 1830.
These early Protestant missionaries made few converts (fewer than a hundred by 1840), but did important work in laying the foundations of the missionary enterprise. Morrison compiled the first Chinese-English dictionary, and with the help of William Milne (1785-1822) published the first translation of the Bible into Chinese in 1819. Morrison also founded in 1818 the first missionary educational institution of note for Chinese, the Anglo-Chinese College, which operated in Malacca until 1843, when it moved to Hong Kong. Finally, the opening of a hospital at Canton in 1835 by the American Dr Peter Parker (1804-88) marked the beginnings of medical missions.
After the Opium War of 1839-42, the treaties which China signed with Britain and other western powers from 1842 to 1844 constituted much of the basic edifice ofthe imperialist treaty system which lasted well into the twentieth century. As part of the 1840s treaties and linked agreements, France, which
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