The Opium Wars
The Opium Trade
During the Qing dynasty in China, the Qing government was not very fond of trade or any kind of contact with the outside world. If they found something they didn't approve of, they destroyed it. The isolationism may also have been for religious purposes. The Qing dynasty may not have wanted their people to be exposed to different religions. The only port they allowed for trade was the port at Guangzhou. At this time, Britain as facing a problem; they had a high need for items in China, such as tea, silk, and porcelain. But at the same time China didn't have as much need for British items. Britain was paying for all the Chinese items with silver. The problem was that more silver was leaving Britain than coming in since they had to pay for all of the Chinese imports that were coming in. But, Britain didn't get any money from China, since China didn't buy any of their goods. So Britains solution to this problem was to sell opium to the Chinese. Opium had already been used in China before the British decided to sell it in China, but only as a medicinal drug. In the 18th century, opium was used in China as a recreational drug. The British persuaded the Chinese to take opium when they didn't need it. Through this, the Chinese became more and more addicted to the drug and they bought more and more. The company that was in charge of all of this opium trade monopoly was the EEIC or the English East India Company. The opium was bought very rapidly in China, and Britain started to get more and more silver. In fact, China paid Britain 34 million silver dollars for opium in the 1830s alone! In1819, the opium prices dropped dramatically due to domestic competition in British India. But since the prices shot down the amount of opium bought by China shot up. When the English East India Company's monopoly broke apart in 1833, new merchants seized the opportunity and started to sell opium to China. All of this opium trade was being done illegally...
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