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The Opium War

Uploaded by fuzzy_pgp on Jun 08, 2004

The Opium War, also called the Anglo-Chinese War, was the most humiliating defeat China ever suffered. In European history, it is perhaps the most sordid, base, and vicious event in European history, possibly, just possibly, overshadowed by the excesses of the Third Reich in the twentieth century.

By the 1830's, the English had become the major drug-trafficking criminal organization in the world; very few drug cartels of the twentieth century can even touch the England of the early nineteenth century in sheer size of criminality. Growing opium in India, the East India Company shipped tons of opium into Canton which it traded for Chinese manufactured goods and for tea. This trade had produced, quite literally, a country filled with drug addicts, as opium parlors proliferated all throughout China in the early part of the nineteenth century. This trafficing, it should be stressed, was a criminal activity after 1836, but the British traders generously bribed Canton officials in order to keep the opium traffic flowing. The effects on Chinese society were devestating. In fact, there are few periods in Chinese history that approach the early nineteenth century in terms of pure human misery and tragedy. In an effort to stem the tragedy, the imperial government made opium illegal in 1836 and began to aggressively close down the opium dens.


Lin Tse-hsü

The key player in the prelude to war was a brilliant and highly moral official named Lin Tse-hsü. Deeply concerned about the opium menace, he maneuverd himself into being appointed Imperial Commissioner at Canton. His express purpose was to cut off the opium trade at its source by rooting out corrupt officials and cracking down on British trade in the drug.

He took over in March of 1839 and within two months, absolutely invulnerable to bribery and corruption, he had taken action against Chinese merchants and Western traders and shut down all the traffic in opium. He destroyed all the existing stores of opium and, victorious in his war against opium, he composed a letter to Queen Victoria of England requesting that the British cease all opium trade. His letter included the argument that, since Britain had made opium trade and consumption illegal in England because of its harmful effects, it should not export that harm to other countries. Trade, according to Lin, should only be in beneficial objects....

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Uploaded by:   fuzzy_pgp

Date:   06/08/2004

Category:   History

Length:   6 pages (1,276 words)

Views:   9539

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