“Coffee, Tea, or Opium?”
In “Coffee, Tea, or Opium,” the authors main point is that even at this point in history some rulers felt that drug importation throughout other countries was immoral for their economic and social status. China’s commissioner for foreign trade, Lin Zexu wanted to stop the illegal importation of opium into his country. Lin saw that the opium trade was damaging the publics health and was bleeding China of its wealth. The emperor of Manchu had given Lin extensive power and ordered him to control the demand of China’s people for opium and force the barbarian merchants to cut off the supply.
Throughout this article Wilson shows that as the years past the opium use in China grew substantially:
“During the trading season of 1816-17, about forty-six hundred 150-pound chests of opium entered China. This number rose to 22, 000 by 1831-32 and 35,000 by 1837-38.. That was more than 5.25 million pounds of opium, the carefully collected and dried sap extruded from 4.8 trillion opium poppies” (Wilson pg 38).
Not only was the did it spread rapidly into China, but other countries found that highly addictive substances made great profits in exportation. The traders were not the only men making a quick dollar, but the middlemen, and the farmers as well. The people that fell short we the addicts themselves and the importing countries, due to the fact that the opium ran up uncontrollable trade deficits.
England and other countries profited by exporting opium into China because these countries were receiving goods like tea and silk while China was getting opium. This meant that the other countries were getting items they could sell and receive items that were reusable or they could use for resell in their country for higher prices than what they had spent in China. Not only that but they could sell small amounts of opium for a large sum of money.
Lin wrote a letter to Queen Victoria to explain his troubles about the effects opium was having on his country, but to no avail. All he wanted was someone who understood his desire to stop the selling of opium in China. Hoping that the Queen would respond and agree with him never happened. Unfortunately the British were determined to keep the sales going even if it meant by force. They wanted to keep the profits in by taking some of China’s main ports.