Opium War Causes

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The Opium Wars were 2 wars fought between Britain and China in the 1800s. The first Opium War took place from 1839 to 1842 when British traders imported opium from India to China against the Chinese government’s wishes. The British sent a fleet of warships in retaliation to the Chinese destroying a warehouse full of opium. The second Opium War took place from 1856 to 1860 when Chinese officials searched a British ship. The British, joined by the French, sent an invasion force to China and occupied the Chinese city of Beijing. The opium trade between the British and the Chinese started when Britain found a new method of paying China to balance off their trade deficit, through opium. By 1820, this trade had established such a widespread opium…show more content…
The main causes of the first and second Opium Wars were, therefore, the declining economy and the crippling social problems encountered in China. The result of the first Opium War was the unfair Treaty of Nanjing, whilst the second Opium War gave rise to the Treaty of Tianjing.

China suffered great economic and social hardships due to the entrenched opium addiction amongst its people. As Britain had been supplying large amounts of opium to China, the Chinese government imposed a significantly higher tax rate on opium imports, in an attempt to suppress opium consumption in China. However, many foreign countries, especially Britain, continued to take advantage of the Chinese’s addiction to opium, and illegally sold even larger amounts of opium to China. These illegal sales avoided paying taxes altogether to the Chinese government, and hence weakened China economically as it was losing an important source of revenue. Moreover, due to the lack of productivity in the country with one-third of its male population being opium addicts, China’s economy was on fast decline. The Chinese were spending their money on
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Therefore, China lost the first Opium War. The Chinese had no choice but to agree to the terms of the British by signing Treaty of Nanjing. This treaty was one of the first treaties to give foreigners special rights in China, which significantly led to the decline of the country and its government. The outcome of this treaty was the opening of many different ports , in Canton, Foochow, Amoy, and Shanghai, for the Western countries to enter and trade freely. China was forced to cede Hong Kong, a densely populated island city in south China, to British rule. China also had to pay indemnity to the British. As a result of the first Opium War, China not only suffered more economic decline but also saw further opium addiction among its people. Very quickly, the economy of China experienced a breakdown of self-sufficiency in the traditional system of agriculture and craftsmanship. China was contrained to fight in its own defence to end the opium trade and to revert the unequal effects of the Nanjing Treaty. This was the second Opium War (1856-1860). China again lost the second Opium War and the Treaty of Tianjing was the result. It eroded the Chinese defense and economy. The Chinese were forced into opening more ports for the British and it allies. The British forces occupied Beijing and only withdrew in 1858. When the British tried to return to Beijing in 1859, they were heavily bombarded by
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