Opium Trade In China

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During the early eighteenth century, Britain started its trade with China by importing several indigenous goods such as silk, porcelain, and tea in exchange for silver. However, Britain incurred a significant trade deficit in this economic relationship and decided to start growing opium in India, which was facilitated by Britain’s colossal trading company known as the British East India Company. The British began to illegally trade and sell opium in China, which induced tension and conflict between the two countries. The effects of this epidemic of opioid addiction vastly changed the overall foundation of China’s economy, society, and government. Although Britain’s opium trade significantly affected life in Chinese society by leading to increased…show more content…
Firstly, the opium trade in China led to an epidemic of opium addiction which hindered the Chinese people’s ability to live. Several thousands of workers and other Chinese people managed to obtain opium illegally from the trade between Britain and China.“Some fifty or sixty smugglers and dealers were believed to have been seized in the course of a few months” (Owen 136). Furthermore, it led to them being debilitated and unable to live properly as the consequence of their addiction. An example of complaints towards the effects of opium had on the Chinese people is shown specifically in Lin Zexu’s letter to Queen Victoria, “It is your foreigners who involve our simple natives in the pit of death” (A Letter to Queen Victoria). This is significant because it indicates opium that was traded by the British caused the Chinese to be in a “pit of death” because they were extremely devitalized due to addiction. The prevalence of opium in China increased through the trading and importation of it, which was a huge detriment to the health of the Chinese, thus it ultimately led to a change of well being which was the inability for people to productively work. In addition to the lack of productivity opium generated, it also distressed the Chinese in other ways “ If so much as one of those deprive one of our people of his life, he must forfeit his life in requital for that which he has taken” (A Letter to Queen Victoria). This shows that opium caused the Chinese to be deprived from their lives which consequently led to people being furious at the people who introduced opium because the effects were too detrimental to

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