The Leading Causes Of The Opium Wars

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The Leading Causes of the Opium Wars The Opium Wars were a series of conflicts that eventually led to China’s decline through the trade and abuse of the drug opium. The first of the Opium Wars (1839-42) was fought between China and Britain, and the second war (1856-1860) involved France as well. In both wars, the foreign powers triumphed over China, causing havoc, causing the fall of the Qing dynasty. Prior to the Opium Wars, China was full of rich culture, remarkable goods, and useful inventions. They had invented gunpowder, kites, and porcelain, all of which were in demand. The Qing dynasty had believed that they were superior to other countries, and refused to let any foreigners access any Chinese territory. There was only one area where trade was permitted, and it was inside the province of Canton, though payments were only allowed to be made in silver. The largest demand was for silk and tea from China, but England had a limited amount of the silver to trade. So instead, they began to trade Opium to China. Opium was in high demand at the time, and many merchants accepted it as currency for goods. With Britain having control of several poppy fields in India, producing large amounts of the drug was not a problem. The trade of opium was the root cause of the Opium Wars, but other causes such as China’s unfair trade superiority, the economic opportunity the west saw in the trade, and the addiction to the drug all helped cause the wars as well. The Opium Wars were
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