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Opium War

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Jeffrey Koala

Revolutionary China

Professor Lu

6/12/07

THE INEVITABILITY OF THE OPIUM WAR BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND CHINA

The Opium War, which began in 1839, pitted two of history's most independently industrious strongholds against each other. It was not only hugely detrimental to China's potential of progress, but was as well equally as unavoidably inevitable. The War also had major consequences to the later relations between China and Britain. The brutal fighting that ensued between the two countries served as the conclusion of several fundamental disparities that transmitted each onto separate, vastly divided platforms of culture, governmental ideals, as well as trade systems.

Trade restrictions placed into effect by the Qing Dynasty made it both inefficient and economically illogical to trade in low-value manufactured goods easily accessible to the Chinese. Quickly, the main products being traded were tea, from China to Great Britain, and silver from Great Britain to China. Britain found in opium the hugely profitable, highly demanded, and easily produced merchandise to market to China's huge, mostly untapped demographic which it had been desperately been seeking. The opium trade which unfolded upon China's population much like a swarm of locusts unto a vast field of grain placed much pressure and anxiety on the shoulders of the Qing rulers. Opium, being a dangerously debilitating drug, held its users in a death-grip of deep addiction that was sullen and depressive; not to mention, deadly.

Such a huge supply of opium being provided so easily and eagerly by foreigners had China's throne and ruling council both furious and nervous that these ties to the outside world would lead to the inner demise of China. Those in charge of China found themselves increasingly "alarmed by the prospect of dealing with a useless and narcotized population dependent on foreign merchants for their "fix"'. They grew ever weary of these always-distrusted outsiders gaining such close access to the inner circles of their much-guarded domain.

Qing rulers, such as Zhu Zun, with many in agreement, proposed to further enforce the prohibition of opium being imported into China. Government officials viewed the allowance of opium importation with similarity to a physician's malpractice. This would be "an error which may be compared to that of a physician, who, which treating a mere external disease, should drive it inwards to the heart", he claimed. They noted that, as it was their god-given obligation to shield their country from such evils, they were forced not to neglect the blatant violation of the people by the drug, and hence act in a way to force its extrication.

The government of China- ordained through the noble granting of heaven to oversee, protect, and operate the country- saw it their duty to stagger and thus end foreign opium's reign over those civilians it had been so nobly deemed responsible for. Great Britain, on the other hand, saw it their destiny to obtain economic and military control and influence over all out-laying lands- at whatever the cost. These far differing governmental ideals played a large impact on the future outbreak of the Opium War.

Also playing a role as separator was China's Ð''Middle Kingdom' self-entitled nomenclature and philosophy. They viewed themselves with the wish to isolate and barrier themselves from outside influences, not allowing them to enter into China- as well barring the escape of any of their own prized advancements, inventions, innovations,

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