Opium Wars Lecture

Topics: Opium, First Opium War, China Pages: 3 (1034 words) Published: February 4, 2014
Opium Wars
When the British decided to attack the Chinese because they were refusing to buy opium, as it was considered an attack on free trade and private property, they go to war. The British official in China doesn’t want opium sold, but he is so outclassed that he cannot figure out a way to get the British out of the opium trade. The current dynasty, the Manchus, are not actually Chinese. The Confucian scholars are supposed to repair after the war, but the Chinese are weaker than they ever were before, as it can no longer stand for itself, and the Mandate is gone. At the end of the Opium War, it is very clear to the Chinese that the mandate of heaven is gone, and it never comes back to anyone, it is the end of the Mandate of Heaven and the Dynastic Cycle and cannot replace the dynasty. The culprit of all this is opium. Now, on cotton, China was a big producer. But, in the 18th century, a lot of cotton fields switched over to tea because it was more lucrative, and you could obtain silver to pay taxes with. This meant that for the first time in history, there was a demand for something that they don’t have much, but it tended not to bring in silver. When the switched over, tea is a long-term investment, it’s not something you can change from year to year. Over time, as there is less production and a constant demand, the price of cotton grows. So the Chinese begin to import cotton, showing the British they are willing to import some things, including opium. The British produced opium in India. The issue is that it is a recreational drug. The use of opium in china became a large problem due to its addictiveness. Smuggling produced a lot of money. As government officials begin taking it recreationally, the government is not cracking down on the illegal opium trade. It starts to drain silver out of the country. In the first really big opium shipment, they have a million pounds plus in their trade, just a lot of silver. There is still not a huge amount of trade,...
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