A Lost Nation
What was the cause of the disintegration of China? A number of factors contributed to the spiraled downfall that ultimately destroyed their dynasty. Was it the Opium War that greatly affected China’s international position? The Taiping Rebellion that destroyed six hundred cities and killed more than twenty million people? Or was it their corrupted government system? All of these events as a whole created a time of “rebellion, lawlessness, and foreign exploitation” (Andrea, 345) that plagued the Qing regime until the Revolution of 1911. Around 1839, Lin Zexu, an official of Emperor Daoguang, was sent to Guangzhou to morally persuade the people of China to stop the use and sale of opium. Zexu wrote a formal letter to Queen Victoria of England urging her to prohibit the manufacture and sale of the drug… but with the letter never being received, it forced Zexu to take more extreme measures, which led to the Opium War with Britain. Zexu believed that Britain was obsessed with material gain, and didn’t care that they were posing harm on the people of China with the importation of opium. In his letter to the Queen, he talks about useful products such as tea, rhubarb, silk and porcelain that are necessities rather than a harmful product used for profit. In China, there was a death sentence for anyone who smoked or peddled opium, in which Zexu blamed their death on the opium traders from foreign countries.
“Heaven is furious with anger, and all the gods are moaning with pain! It is herby suggested that you destroy and plow under all of these opium plants and grow food crops instead, while issuing an order to punish severely anyone who dares to plant opium poppies again…” (Andrea, 348)
In 1852, Zeng Guofan wrote a memorandum to Emperor Xianfeng discussing China’s mid-century problems, and what should be looked at closely for some kind of positive change. He assesses the problems of past reigns and sees that...
Cited: Andrea, Alfred J. & James H. Overfield. The Human Record, v. II, 4th ed. Boston & NY: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2001.
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