Canton is one of the most ancient cities of China.
The Romans and Indians were the first foreigners to come here in the 2nd Century AD, followed by the Arabs 500 years later.
The Portuguese came in the 16th Century and the British in the 17th. It was here that the British set up relations with China, trading silver for silk and tea.
According to the history books, things were going well for China until the British started the sale of opium.
In 1839, alarmed by the drain on China's silver caused by the opium addiction, the Emperor ordered the seizure of all the opium in the possession of the British traders.
The British foreign secretary subsequently ordered the attack on Canton, which was to signal the start of the first 'Opium War', and the indirect fall of the Qing dynasty.