During the Qing dynasty, the Qing government wasn’t very fond of trade or any kind of contact with the outside world. If they found something they disliked, they would destroy it or throw it away. Britain was facing a problem at this time: they wanted silk, and porcelain, which were mainly in China. At the same time though, China didn’t really want any of Britain’s items. Britain was paying for all the Chinese items with silver, the only value China really liked from the British. 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. Britain didn't get any money from China, since China didn't buy any of their goods. Britain’s solution to this problem was to sell opium to the Chinese. Opium had already been used in China before, but only as a medicinal drug. The British convinced the Chinese to buy opium when they really didn't need it. After buying some, the Chinese became more and more addicted to the drug so they eventually bought more. Soon then, opium was bought very rapidly and Britain soon got their silver back and even more. In fact, China paid Britain 34 million silver dollars for the drug in the 1830’s alone! In 1819, the prices dropped dramatically due to some competition in India.
Since the prices shot down, the amount of opium sold shot up! The English East India Company's (the company that gave opium to China) monopoly broke apart in 1833. Then, new dealers grabbed the opportunity and started to sell opium to China. All of this opium trade was being done illegally since the Yongzheng emperor in 1729 said that there should be no more opium imported to or used in China. Since the British were making so much money, the opium ban was ignored. In 1797, Chinese farmers got opium from the British and began to illegally sell it. In 1730, about 15 tons of opium was smuggled into China. By 1773, the number reached 75