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Running head: The Opium War1The Origin and Consequences of the Opium WarJoanna HernandezHIS 104 World Civilizations IIIrene GeislerSeptember 2, 2016
The Opium War2The Origin and Consequences of the Opium WarThe origin and consequences of the Opium War between Britain and China is a fascinating subject. There are many potential lessons, as we look back upon the effects the Opium War had upon 19th Britain and China, and how global society can avoid the same mistakes today. This paper will explore this topic. From the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century, the British demand for tea rose dramatically. According to MIT Visualizing Cultures (2011), “the annual flow to China was around 4,000 chests by 1790, and a little more than double this by the early 1820s....on the eve ofthe first Opium War, the British were shipping some 40,000 chests to China annually” (para. 5). As a result of this high demand for tea by the British people, Britain experienced a significant hemorrhage of silver to China. This was because the Qing government and the Chinese people would reject British trade goods as an acceptable trade for tea, and required the British merchantsto pay in cash. At the same time, foreign trade was also limited by China to the single port of Canton, which significantly constrained the British merchants. As the Qing emperor denied demands by George Macartney for fewer trade restrictions on behalf of Britain, the Empire began to look for a product that would entice China and reverse the currency imbalance (MIT Visualizing Cultures, 2011, “Tensions Under the Canton Trade System”, para. 5). This product came in the form of opium. However, opium was not a new thingfor China. Tobacco had been used in China since the 1600s and opium became a popular additivefor tobacco smokers. Eventually, opium began to be smoked by itself as it was valued as a medicine and thought to be an aphrodisiac (Watts, 2013). Recognizing the potential this product could have on foreign trade, Britain began to grow a particular type of poppy used for opium

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