The octogenarian emperor of the Qing dynasty, Qianlong in September 1793, was to receive a delegation from an island nation, whose mercantile organisation, East India Company was sweeping across India, drawing spices and raw materials to serve its factories. When the British trade mission led by George Macartney arrived at the court of the Qing dynasty assisted by a 13-year old interpreter, exchange of elaborate gifts ensued. A particular model of HMS Royal Sovereign caught the emperor’s fancy in the light of the empire’s shoddy defence of its shores.
The concerns over burgeoning British maritime power were not misplaced as half a century later, a war that began in 1839, China’s market would be forced open as attempts to thwart hugely profitable opium trade hauled from the plains of India failed. This marked what even to this day to many Chinese, the beginning of the ‘century of humiliation.’[Source]