Opium In East Asia

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In today’s world it is nearly impossible to find something that has not been influenced by Asian culture, more specifically East Asia. In international relations, East Asian States hold immense influence over policy making and trade routes. East Asian culture such as food, the style of dress, and its artwork have found themselves commonplace among Western lifestyles. The first-hand accounts such as letters, novels, and ideas that came from ancient East Asia are primary sources when examining the shaping of East Asia today. A key part in East Asian history is during the time of the British expansion to China, marking the beginning of the Opium Wars and forever changing East Asia. What is often not shown is the Chinese and other nation’s feelings…show more content…
It was written in 1839 by a man named Lin Zexu, a Commissioner in the Chinese city of Canton who had high moral standpoint against the use of opium. He sought to end its trade in China and prosecute those who not only abused the drug but to those who also supplied it, largely British merchants in China. Opium was a highly addictive drug that, with widespread use throughout China had a large and devastating effect on the population, “The number of addicts may have reached 3 to 5 percent of the population” (Schoppa 2008). The British did not have many goods to trade with China so they, used China’s opium addiction to their advantage. They supplied opium to dealers and government officials, they were able to milk large amounts of silver from China. The dealings of opium prompted Lin to address the crown with devices such as letters. The letter was meant for the Queen of England, Queen Victoria, to read and realize what this devastating drug was doing to both Chinese way of life and its economy. Commissioner Lin had hoped with this letter that the royalty of the British Empire would force its subjects in China trading to respect Chinese laws and no longer sell opium. Commissioner Lin’s acts were for a noble cause of wiping out opium addiction in China, alas they were too late to stop the flow…show more content…
On one side it was supposed to persuade the queen into helping China enforce a tighter ban against opium, using examples of Britain’s own ban against opium being grown inside the United Kingdom, “I have heard that smoking of opium is strictly forbidden by your country…Since it is not permitted to do harm in your own country, then even less should you let it be passed on to the harm of other countries” (Zexu 1839). Commissioner Lin was trying to guilt the British royalty by saying that since it was banned in Britain then why would the Crown continue to let it be sold in China, unless there was an alternative motive. This document was also sent as an intimidation tactic to influence the Crown into taking action against British merchants who continued to sell opium in China. Due to China’s immense size and closeness to nations, such as India and those located in the South, there was very little items needed from Britain, so if China were to cut off trade relations due to ignoring the ban against opium, China would not lose much. However, the British imported a plethora of items such as tea, silk, cinnamon, and other goods that were found in the regions of China. If China cut off trade, like Commissioner Lin was

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