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Trident UniversityHow did China’s losses in the Opium Wars affect the rising dominance of European powers inEast Asia?HIS101- Modern World HistoryDr. Robert Kirkland24 March 2014
For this Modern World History Module 3 case study assignment I will be discussing how China’slosses in the Opium Wars affected the rising dominance of European powers in East Asia?After the long and prosperous rules of Kangxi and Qianlong in the 17th and 18thcenturies, problems of the Qing Dynasty began to mount during the early 19th century. Itsuffered from many old land-based ailments, such as long borders to defend and the challenge ofkeeping transportation and communication routes operating, but they also faced other seriousissues. The Manchu, rulers of the Qing dynasty, were originally a northern group that conqueredthe Han Chinese under Ming rule. Han Chinese, as they did under Mongol rule, pushed forrestoration of rule to the natives. The dynasty also began to experience significant revolts fromminorities, and the government, under an increasingly corrupt line of rulers, was not able to dealwith them properly. As the Chinese dynastic cycle was clearly going into decline, Europeanssensed the problems, and began to push for trading rights that China had been reluctant to grantin earlier times.1For many years, Britain had been frustrated in its dealings with China and had strivenunsuccessfully for decades to negotiate more favorable trading terms with them. The Chinesegovernment, based on their interactions with the European trading companies for nearly 200years, had an exceedingly low opinion of westerners and would not consent to make treaties withtheir ambassadors, much less open their ports to their wares, or encourage trade in any way.Britain had already tried every conceivable diplomatic effort to increase trading opportunities,1Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2103).The First Opium War:
but all exertions were fruitless. The Chinese government simply wanted nothing to do withforeigners or their products.2In 1759 Emperor Qianlong had restricted European commercial presence to Guangzhou,a port in the southeastern part of China. There the trade was very much supervised by Chineseunder the cohong system, with specially licensed Chinese firms operating under government setprices. Trade with Europeans was also restricted by the fact that Europeans had very little thatthe Chinese wanted to buy, even though the reverse was far from true. So the British East IndiaCompany, using Turkish and Persian expertise grew opium in India and shipped it to China. As aresult, trade boomed, especially once the Chinese developed addictions to the drug. The weakQing government failed to act, even after some Chinese officials began to support the trade byaccepting bribes. In 1838, with about 40,000 chests of opium coming into Guangzhou that year,the government finally tried to stop it.