The Outbreak of the Opium War

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The Opium War, according to almost every historian nowadays, is considered to be the first military clash between China and the western powers and a key event which marked the end of the “Middle Kingdom” supremacy. However, discussing about the beginning of the war, many was still trying to explain the “excuses” for the outbreak of the war. The Chinese and the British, they both have their own justification, which both seem really reasonable.

For the Chinese Emperor, his justification for starting the war came firstly from the insolence of their opponent. Since the very beginning days of China, this country had only known about the other nations as “tributary states”, and it is absolutely unacceptable for any other country’s emissary to come in front of the Emperor’s throne, acting like he is from an equal power. But now, came an arrogant British, who submitted a ridiculous, even stupid request for improvements of the trade agreement. Why didn’t Britain just accept her status as another vassal of China; why didn’t they stop asking for things they are not deserved? Furthermore, what Britain had done after that continues to fuel up the Emperor’s anger. The opium that they had shipped into China had caused much more trouble than he could expect. Opium is an addictive drug, and once the people of China had consumed it, it would soon be too late for them to get rid of it. And the consequences of such addiction is obviously the loss of workforce (due to the effects of opium on human health), the corruption of officials (in order to get enough money for their addiction), and the increasing dependence of the Chinese on Western traders (those who supplied them with opium). The Emperor was aware of the opium threat, and it was not difficult for him to realize that the opium trade from the West must be banned immediately. However, overconfident as every Chinese Emperors were, he would not taken into account the reaction of the British, whose military power was too...
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