Opium and the Opium Wars

Opium and the Opium Wars
The Western Traders
Community of traders in Guangzhou
Trade tea and silk through a monopoly
The trade expands rapidly in 1830s
Traders want
– End to the monopoly
– To be allowed to trade in other ports
– A fixed rate of tax
Lin Zexu
• Proposed ending opium trade to solve
currency problems
• Understood the Western traders as pirates
• 1839 arrived in Guangdong
– Destroyed opium
– Imprisoned traders in their compound to make
them promise not to trade opium again
The Opium War 1840
• British fleet sent from India
• British troops beseiged Guangzhou then
paid off
• British fleet sailed up the coast and
threatened Tianjin
→Treaty of Nanjing
The Treaty of Nanjing 1842
End of the Cohong monopoly
Open 5 more ports to foreign trade
New system of fixed tax rates
Hong Kong ceded to Britain
The Qing made a large payment to the
Problems after the Treaty of
• The Chinese saw it as a rebellion that had
been pacified
• The British saw it as a war they had won
• Factional disputes at court about what to
• Trouble in Guangzhou because some
people had lost out from the treaty
→ The Second Opium War
The Treaty of Tianjin 1858
• Ten more ports opened to foreign trade
• Foreigners allowed to travel in China
• Chinese internal customs duties fixed for
• Extraterritoriality ie foreign law used for
• Foreign diplomats allowed to reside in
Educational images of the Opium War from the People’s Republic of
China’s Southern Daily (Nanfang ribao) in 2004
1. Imperialism
J.A. Hobson and Vladimir Lenin
Argument very influential in 1910s and 20s
2. Impact of the West
– John K. Fairbank
– China as the centre of the world
3. Spread of psychoactive substances
Opium and the Spread of Psychoactive Substances
• Listed from 8th C as a medical drug
• Recreational consumption spread from the
Philippines in the 17th C
• Large scale imports tied to British
consumption of tea
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