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China was, at this time, in upheaval. It was the most populous region in the world (400 million people in 1834). The Celestial Empire had long operated with trade surpluses, but by the 1840s, serious trade deficits plagued China. The first European-Chinese conflict (The Opium War) began in 1839 and ended with the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. During this period, famines wracked the land. It is estimated maybe 14 million people died in 1849, and another 20 million between 1854 and 1860.