According to the Oxford Dictionary, Opium is a “reddish-brown heavy-scented addictive drug prepared from the juice of the opium poppy, used as a narcotic and in medicine as an analgesic”. In China, Opium was first intended for medical use and later, during the 19th century it became a symbol of problems that hit on China. China’s high consumption of Opium brought social calamity for the country and in the other hand, it contributed to the economic prosperity Britain was going through. Opium also created tension in the Sino- British relationship, which Opium Wars gave a partial end to. The results of the Opium Wars can be considered unfair for China, not only did they have to open ports but they also had to pay for reparations.
In general terms, the Sino-British relation started to go badly in 1834 when the British East India Company lost its monopoly over Chinese trade which it used to have. Canton was a really important Chinese port and represented high profits for the British East India Company before the Chinese government decided to close it for foreigners. Some people believe that the loss of this monopoly was the main reason and root that lead to the First Opium War in 1839. Around the 1800s, Britain imports of Tea in average accounted for twenty four million pounds annually (Scott, 23).
The British Empire economy was partially helped by Opium; it contributed to its prosperity during the 19th century by giving them the opportunity to obtain profits out of Opium trade and maintain their wealth. British are tea addicts and lovers, and consumed it in large quantities; they also had a great demand of other Chinese commodities such as silk and porcelain, they had to import all this from China. The imbalance in commerce betw...
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... of war. Another thing they had to agree was to grant amnesty to all the Chinese subordinates that collaborated with England in the wars. Later on, England, France, Russia, and USA, would have the right to establish small embassies in Pekin, which was a closed city at that time. All the foreign ships would have the right to navigate freely the Yangtze River as well. (Zhang, 2010)
The British wanted to increase the west influence in China, and shake it up from its ideal that it was the most important country in the world. The objective was to make China recognize the equality among other countries, such as England, France, Russia and USA. (Alexander, 1896). Some of the treaties made after the Opium Wars were abolished during World War II, when China became a member in the Security Council of the UN. It was complete with the return of Hong Kong in 1997.