,hl=en,siteUrl='http://0ldfox.blogspot.com/',authuser=0,security_token="v_SeT2Tv8vVdKRCcG9CCW-ZdIfQ:1429878696275"/> Old Fox KM Journal : The First Opium War (1838-1842)

Thursday, March 03, 2016

The First Opium War (1838-1842)

The War on Drugs.   150 years back it was a British War For Drugs!

The First Opium War (1838-1842): "the emperor of the Manchu (Qing) Dynasty decided to stamp out opium once and for all. The imperial court understood that the trade debilitated their people and weakened the economy. One Chinese official commented that they were faced with a “life-destroying drug threatening to degrade the entire Chinese people to a level with reptiles, dogs and swine” (Lovell 21). Still, some Chinese officials wanted to legalize opium in order to tax it and trade it directly for tea so that silver wealth would not leave the country. But the emperor would have none of it. Instead, in 1838, he appointed a High Commissioner to extirpate opium by arresting opium addicts, dealers, growers, and merchants. The emperor wrote a letter to Queen Victoria of England: “There is a class of evil foreigner that makes opium and brings it for sale, tempting fools to betray themselves merely in order to reap profit. Formerly the number of opium smugglers was small; but now the vice has spread far and wide, and the poison penetrated deeper. . . We have decided to inflict very severe penalties on opium dealers and opium smokers. . . This poisonous article is manufactured by certain devilish persons in places subject to your rule. . . What is here forbidden to consume, your dependencies must be forbidden to manufacture. . . When that is done, not only will the Chinese be rid of this evil but your people too will be safe” (Beeching 76). The Queen did not reply, which did not bode well for the emperor’s plan.

The emperor’s High Commissioner, Lin, then confiscated opium in Canton and destroyed it, which quickly spiraled into a conflict between the British and Chinese governments. The British Superintendent of Trade in Canton was the highest-ranking official. Without permission or authority from his government, this official took it upon himself to promise British opium merchants that the British government would insure the value of all the opium that the Chinese government confiscated (Beeching 80). Suddenly, the British government was on the hook for the cost of a lot of illegal opium. Lin destroyed the 20,000 chests that the British merchants handed over (Lovell 69). The commissioner also demanded that the British opium traders sign a bond promising, on penalty of death, not to bring any more opium to China (Lovell 71). The British official refused to comply and so the foreigners were asked to leave China for good (Beeching 81). Meanwhile, on July 12, 1838, thirty British sailors on recreational leave in a village near Hong Kong, demolished a temple and killed a Chinese civilian. Lin demanded the British release the murderer to Chinese authorities, but the British refused, citing extraterritoriality, which means that British citizens cannot be tried in foreign courts (Beeching 88). So Lin then blockaded the British fleet and refused them food, water, and trade until they handed over the murderer and promised not to sell the poisonous drug (Lovell 8). The British official still refused to stop the illegal opium trade and, instead, gave the Chinese a deadline to lift the blockade. When the deadline passed, the British fired on Chinese junks, but the short battle ended in a stalemate because the British navy had not yet arrived. The First Opium War had begun, started by a British Superintendent of Trade’s support for the illegal opium trade."

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