|Opium routes between British-controlled India and China.ocw.mit.edu|
|Opium smokers produced by BEI company.www.nuttyhistory.com|
|opium export to China from India, BEI.www.veteranstoday.com|
Thanks to the Portuguese who introduced a new form of smoke-able opium to China in the early 1700’s. The opium was mixed with tobacco and became a new habit in China and it was popular among the rich and the young and wealthy Chinese considered it as a status symbol. Opium trade was originally dominated by the Dutch, but was soon taken over by the British due to British rule in India. The British started to trade opium for silver in southern China, and from there the opium trade exploded.
The export of opium to China assured the British of a large steady flow of silver into India which helped them consolidate their hold on the subcontinent, in particular, Bengal which became its financial base. For this reason the BEI pushed more export of opium to China, unmindful of a big chunk of population becoming slaves to opium smoking. In 1834-35 alone, the B. E. I. Co. exported 10,107 chests of opium from Calcutta to China, chiefly to the port of Canton.
In 1834 overall trade profits dipped from Rs.9,413,091 Rupees to Rs.6,827,628 (despite a sharp increase in shipments to China) on account of decline in price from $2,075 (average for 1821-22) to just $955. During the period 1848-49 the profits shot up to Rs.24,103,775 rupees because of demand. It means there was ever increasing addicts in China.
The more the Chinese addicts on the streets of China in every nook and corner, the more profits for the British company, the better the security of the British society. One culturally rich Asian country was slowly perishing on one hand, England was prospering on the other hand.
The first anti-opium edict was issued by Emperor Yung Ching in 1729 and imports of opium into China stood at 200 chests annually. In 1799 more restrictions were added to curtail opium import. Despite the threat of severe penalties, strict customs rules, severe trade restrictions on foreigners, the Chinese rulers could not stop the illegal import of opium from India which gradually rose from 5,000 chests in 1820, 16,000 chests in 1830 and to whooping 40,000 chests in 1838 before the First Opium War.
After the Treaty of Nanking (1842), Britain got Hong Kong, reduced the opium tariff, regularized the import of opium. In 1858 annual imports had risen to 70,000 chests (4,480 long tons). Second opium war between the British and China in 1856 opened up more ports for the British and trade access to Britain and other foreign countries.
Emperor Dao Guang (1821-1850) of the Qing Dynasty, having come to know that the opium was destroying a large section of the population and the Chinese culture, he stopped opium imports into China through any means. But the British supplied opium through a big network of sea- pirates to the Chinese market. In the wake of more illegal imports in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, nine out of ten were addicts. Thanks to the British ingenuity and business acumen.
As many foreign countries condemned opium smoking and with international efforts, it slowly declined, and thousands of Chinese were saved from near death. Opium addiction in China came down drastically over a period of time. The Chinese will never forgive the Britain for their role in turning a large section of the population into Zombies. Nothing gave the aristocratic British Bobs more joy than their fast-filling coffers with silver " from opium trade".
Opium is a poison and its undesirable and violent effects will undermine the morality and capability of a well- cultured society. The younger generation will be degenerating and become hooked to it. If addicted, the person will go to any length to please him in a state of extreme excitement, unmindful of harms he is doing to himself as well as to others. Before rehabilitation, he may face death.The British traders in India under the East India company were unscrupulously spinning large amount of money for them at the expense of gullible Chinese.