The Anti-Drug Campaign and the First Opium War
In 1930, Chinese officials began to have growing concerns about the increasing trade of opium with the British. China’s social and economic status started to decline due to the opium trade agreement. Chinese addiction to opium became overwhelming and eventually forced China to launch Lin Zexu’s Anti-Drug Campaign in 1839. As a result, this campaign was viewed as a violation of the trade agreement with Britain and helped led to the First Opium War.
China isolated themselves from the western world, believing they didn’t need anything from foreign trade. For eight decades, the only port that China opened was called the Canton System. The ...view middle of the document...
Hence, foreign trade was exchanged in copper coins and silver. Eventually, the bimetallic trade caused the “silver famine,” resulting in silver becoming more scarce and valuable then copper. To maintain the economy growth, Chinese peasants were forced to pay higher taxes for the decrease of silver.
In the 1830’s, Britain was paving a path through the “Industrial Revolution and were pushing for a free trade system known as laissez faire (“hands off”) that would give them an edge against foreign competition.” Producing manufactured goods to trade for “expensive handmade foreign goods” was the ultimate goal of Britain. Unfortunately, China was not amused and didn’t want any part of the barbarian’s goods. The only thing that peaked China’s interest was opium trade.
From 1835 to 1838, there were numerous debates between the Qing court and advocates that called for a “tighter enforcement of the ban on opium.” Meanwhile, those who opposed the proposition ban and wanted officials to merely “control the drug trade.” Several foreign traders in the Canton System were optimistic that opium would be legalized, but soon was disappointed in 1838, when the Daoguang Emperor denied legalization. Furthermore, the Emperor appointed Lin Zexu, as special imperial commissioner to end the opium trade.
By 1838, over 40,000 chests of opium entered in China. Lin Zexu’s mission was to halt all opium entering into China’s ports and borders. Arriving in Guangzhou in March 1839, Lin launched an Anti-Drug Campaign against addicts and smugglers. He ordered all opium to be confiscated from foreign merchants’ and burned over 21,000 chests. Addition, Lin offered medicine to the “addicts to ease the withdrawal” and soon the opium trade came to a “standstill.” Unfortunately, “Lin didn’t comprehend the British demands for free trade and international equality, which were based on their concept of a commercial empire.”
Both countries, China and Britain felt superior to one and other. The Chinese were traditional and observed themselves as the “Middle Kingdom” and viewed everyone else as “barbarians.” Traditionally, “any goods brought into the Chinese court were viewed as a tribute and was either acknowledged or not.” However, the British had a long tradition “that refused to recognize any other nation’s superiority.”
Meanwhile, Lin Zexu sent a letter to Queen Victoria insisting an immediate halt of the opium trade from India to China. Lin wrote, “Among the unscrupulous are those who bring opium to China to harm the Chinese; they succeed so well that this poison has spread far and wide in all the provinces. You, I hope, will certainly agree that people who pursue material gains to the great detriment of the welfare of others can be neither tolerated by Heaven nor endured by men.” Hoping for reassurance of support from the Queen, Lin was soon to be disappointed.
In the meantime, Lin continued to confiscated drugs from all foreign trade along the ports. As a result, the...