19Reading 35-1of 21 million silver dollars to the British and to accept European supervision of the Chinese customs. No mention was made of the import of opium.For a further 60 years, the trade in Chinese tea exceeded the trade in tea from all other countries. In fact, in the hinge year of 1840 the 1stpuny export of tea from India and Java had begun; less than a ton was sold in London. Chinese exports to all countries in the previous decade had averaged over 200 million pounds (100,000 short tons), worth about £25–30 million in contemporary terms, or more than $3 billion in today’s money.Throughout the rest of the 19thcentury China was gradually “opened up,” aided by a succession of wars in 1856, 1861, 1871, and 1894. The period was characterized by the gradual weakening of the central government in Peking, occasionally delayed by the employment of vigorous, sometimes foreign, generals including Charles Gordon. Russia pursued a deliberate—sometimes open, sometimes covert—policy of imperialism in the north. The British and Americans were primarily interested in trade and the making of money, apart from their illusions that every Chinese was one of nature’s Protestants.
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