Tea: The Drink That Launched A Thousand Ships Essay

Tea: The Drink That Launched A Thousand Ships Essay

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The teachings of the Chinese philosopher K'ung-fu-tzu, latinized as Confucius by the Europeans, developed into the ethical system which became the official ideology of China until the establishment of the Republic of China in the twentieth century. Confucianism is interested in bettering oneself through the process of moral cultivation. In a nation which upholds Confucianism, each man keeps five core relationships. These form the structure around which the society is framed. They are sovereign-subject, father-son, husband-wife, older brother younger brother, friend- friend. Each of the relationships consists of a role of seniority and one of submissiveness. Confucianism holds that if each member of society keeps to each of their roles and dutifully plays their part society should run harmoniously.
A social hierarchy, in which productivity is key, is maintained. Farmers occupy a higher position than merchants and scholars because farmers make a tangible contribution to society while merchants and scholars do not. In fact, soldiers occupied the lowest position on the social hierarchy of Confucianism because a harmonious society should not have any need for soldiers. Though this social theory did not always translate into the practises of society, it did serve to effectively stagger the development of China's mechanical armaments.
Economic globalization can trace its roots back mainly to the voyages of imperialist nations in the 18th and 19th century. That China's only major participation in the formation of the global market were tea and opium trade is a testament to China's disinterest in cultural and economic pursuits with regard to the rest of the world. It is also a testament to the intensity of British stubbornness and We...


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...wo nations Britain would be the clear victor. A cultural examination says that once contact between these two nations has progressed beyond the point of no return such a conflict was probably inevitable. The dependence on established trade with other nations, and the philosophy of entitlement and expansion that is highly characteristic of Western nations ultimately translates into an unwillingness to withdraw from any nation in which they find themselves a desirable situation. For Britain, what was desirable in this case was tea. It is interesting to consider which conditions were necessary for the start of the opium trade in China. Had British goods found a sufficient market in China to negate the trade deficit, or had the British never developed the custom to drink Chinese tea, Britain might have never found the motivation to look opium for profit in China.



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