Journal 7 Asia and South America in the Era of Imperialism

Journal 7 Asia and South America in the Era of Imperialism...

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Journal Part Seven: Asia and South America in the Era  of Imperialism 1. Letter to Queen Victoria  2. The Three People’s Principles and the Future of the Chinese People  3. Anniversary Statement  4. Letter to Mitsubishi Employees  5. The Problem of the Indian and the Problem of the Land  _______________________________________________ _ 1. Letter to Queen Victoria  Lin Zexu  1839 Background to the Document Although the opium poppy was grown in China and opium derivatives had been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, smoking opium as a narcotic dates from the seventeenth century, shortly after the Spanish and Portuguese introduced tobacco smoking in China. Opium use increased dramatically in the late 1700s when British and Indian merchants with access to one of the world's greatest poppy- growing areas in north and northwest India began to import large amounts of opium into China. By the early 1800s millions of Chinese at every social and economic level were addicted to opium, and almost 2 million pounds of opium were being sold in China every year. Chinese officials viewed the social and economic consequences of opium addiction with increasing alarm, but there was no agreement on what should be done. Some advocated the legalization of opium and the expansion of poppy growing in China to lessen the country's dependence on imports. Others recommended a total ban on opium imports and use, an approach that won the support of the Daoguang emperor, who issued an imperial ban on opium use in 1838. One year later he sent one of his officials, Lin Zexu (1785-1850), to Guangzhou to confiscate the foreign merchants' stock of opium
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and halt their trade in opium altogether. Lin had served in the Hanlin Academy, China's leading center for Confucian studies in Beijing, and had held various provincial posts, including terms in Hubei and Hunan, where he had tried to suppress opium smoking. On arrival in Guangzhou he launched a campaign of moral persuasion and force to discourage opium smoking among Chinese and end the sale of opium by Chinese and foreign merchants. Insight into his thinking is provided by a letter he wrote to Great Britain's Queen Victoria in 1839, imploring her to halt her subjects' sale of opium. Nothing came of his letter, and the refusal of British merchants in Guangzhou to cooperate drove Lin to more drastic steps. He arrested the leading English opium trader and blockaded the foreign quarter until its merchants agreed to hand over 20,000 chests of opium. On receiving the opium, he had it mixed with water, salt, and lime and flushed into the sea. On learning of these events, the British government dispatched a fleet and mobilized Indian troops to protect British interests in China. While the flotilla of almost fifty vessels was en route in late 1839, fighting between the Chinese and the English had already started around Guangzhou; the Opium War was under way.
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