China has experienced too much agony and violence in the past because of addictive drugs. However, this drug crisis did not occur in China before European colonizers exploited it to wreak havoc on China’s economy and culture…
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However, when it did develop, it proliferated rapidly. By 1729 Chinese imperial authorities were very worried at the increasing cases of opium abuse and the harmful consequences for the users, that they forbid opium lairs and banned the sale of opium. Selling opium-laced cigarettes became a crime and it carried a punishment of deportation or death.
Yet, the risk of such severe punishment did not dissuade the British opium merchants. In the latter part of the 18th century, the British began to seize China’s opium trade from Holland and Portugal. This was facilitated by the fact that almost all of the opium traded in China was produced in India, which was a colony of Britain at the time. During this time, the Indian metropolis of Patna was the center of both Dutch and English opium factories. There were rumors that the huge opium factories in Patna generated massive quantities of opium that can supply the whole of India. The opium cultivated in other regions of India raised huge revenues for the British East India Company.
Although the Chinese government was implementing more rigid regulations to stop opium misuse and trade, the British were exerting their best effort to boost the sale of opium in China. With this objective in mind, the British East India Company launched three wars against China to acquire the privilege to trade opium in China. The first drug war in human history is the First Opium War. The only reason for the opium war was to gain access to the Chinese market in order for the East India Company to carry on with their selling of addictive, destructive drugs in China.5 The opium trade was very profitable for Britain, but it ruined the lives of a large number of Chinese people. The sale of opium increased steadily in China. Yet, when the British gained control they further boost opium sales. There was firm certainty about the solidity and strength of the opium trade in China. The British governor-general of India even declared in 1830, “We are taking measures for extending the cultivation of the poppy, with a view to a large increase in the supply of opium”.6 In 1839, the First Opium War broke out when Chinese imperial authorities blocked foreign trading vessels and instructed the British to hand over their illicit load of opium. The imperial authorities then instructed the burning of the sequestered boxes of opium. When the officer of the British armada was informed of the instruction to destroy British goods, he commanded India’s governor-general to dispatch all the available ships to China to protect British wealth. The fleet was directed to Hong Kong, where they defended the opium-loaded British trading ships.7 The Chinese emperor deployed Chinese junks to hold off the British armada, but they were not able to fight off the strong British warships. These wars brought about countless casualties; the British extinguished, plundered, and pillaged communities along the Chinese coast.8 The remaining vestiges of humanity had been wiped out to enable the continuous unlimited stream of massive profits from the opium trade. The British journal—the India Gazette— reported about the destruction of Chusan during the First Opium War. The journal stated that all houses were robbed and sacked, and that the pillaging continued until there were no more to loot or extinguish. The First Opium War culminated on the 29th of August 1842, and the Treaty of Nanking
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According to the article, China feared for the health and wellbeing of their citizens, as well as their treasury, and; thus, they opted to ban the importation of opium to their nation. Britain, proclaiming the idea of free trade, rejected China’s proposal, which made the nation appear as if it is being ruled by foreigners or it is a British colony.
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