Essay On The Opium War

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The first opium war which began in 1839 is a story of how China a rich, prosperous and stable power, “”” albiet a closed, confucian society” ruled by the Emperor Daoguang (r. 1820 to 1850) turned into a weakened and compromised state brought about by the exploitation and humiliation by the British and other Western powers throughout the 19th century. The war stemmed from an extremely strained Sino-British relation through the early 1800s, the inherent cultural differences between the Chinese and the West especially Britain as well as their extremely contrasting views on trade in general and specifically opium. I will be exploring how the opium war stemmed from an extremely strained Sino-British relation through the early 1800s, the inherent cultural differences between the Chinese and the West especially Britain as well as their extremely…show more content…
The chinese interpretation is that the Chinese who till the end of the 18th century were the most powerful and richest civilization in the world who became bullied by British warships and opium turning into a compromised empire that became overrun by Western colonizers over the next century (Lovell 184). They have believed the British were getting rich by the trade and when the Emperor put a stop to it the British started a war to protect their interests. (letter from Commissioner Zexu to Queen Victoria). Whereas, Western historians have tried to downplay opium as the cause for the anglo-chinese wars and portrayed economic and cultural differences between the two societies as the cause of the war. I believe both were extremely important and that the opium trade was a catalyst for the eventual but the cultural differences and different opinions on trade, commerce, international policy and other important aspects was the cause of the war as these differences meant China and Britain were always on a path for conflict and opium only sped up the
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