Opium War

The Opium War was a war fought in the mid-19th century that resulted in Western states gaining trade privileges in China. Let's go to India to understand this interesting war. The British entered the further interior of India, where they had begun their colonial activities in the 1600s, and captured the Bengal region in 1757. Opium flower production was very common in the region. Another feature of this plant, from which opium is extracted from the spike and poppy oil from its seed, is that it is a plant obtained by drying the white milk that comes out with cutting and contains substances such as morphine and codeine, and has the quality of poison, drug or painkiller according to its areas of use. Opium produced in the Bengal region was frequently mentioned in those years with its high yield and sharpness. The British East India Company, which colonized the Indian subcontinent and monopolized trade there, understood the value of this and put a monopoly on opium production in Bengal in 1793.

China has adopted a policy of foreign trade closed to the world since the reign of Ruler Kangxi (1662-1723). The British, who were dissatisfied with this policy implemented by the Manchu Palace, complained that trade was carried out only through the port of Hong Kong and Gonghang merchants. Although the British have contacted the Chinese government many times about opening the ports of Ningbo, Qingdao and Tianjin to trade and reducing customs duty rates, they have not been able to break China's closed foreign policy understanding.

Like today 19. With a population that was also crowded in the twentieth century, China is an appetite-stimulating market that attracts the attention of European merchants. An English proverb that summed up Britain's view of China very well said, "If every Chinese wears a finger long, there will be a market for centuries for the weaving mills of Manchester." China was paid a large sum of money every year for tea, the traditional drink of the British, and there is nothing the British can sell to China to close this gap. Britain wanted to close this gap by making free trade with China. In order to close this gap, the British went to sell textile products to China many times between 1786 and 1829, but British weaving did not attract attention in China. It was understood by the British that the only way to increase the demand for goods of western countries in China was to increase the number of commercial ports.

A product that will meet the silk and tea that Britain buys from China and that will end the trade deficit that Britain has given against China has been created almost out of nothing. In 1760, China's opium needs were around 200 crates per year. This product, which is purchased in small quantities, is used in medicine, in the production of medicines, and the use of opium as a recreational substance is not widespread. However, Britain secretly introduced opium from India, where it had a monopoly on opium production, into the Chinese market. By 1800, the use of opium in China had increased tenfold, reaching an annual polling station of 2000. This increase in opium trade directly triggers consumption and the arbitrary use of opium in China is spreading day by day. By 1839, China's annual opium imports had risen to 40,000 ballot boxes and the opium trade had reached uncontrollable dimensions. ( William Jardine, one of the owners of the Jardin And Mathesson company, to show how profitable the opium trade was; “... In the good years, we were getting an income of 1000 dollars per ballot box... " we need to look at these words.)

As in all quarters, there were different opinions about the opium trade in the palace. However, there was a fact that the use of opium was becoming widespread day by day and the burden on the economy was increasing exponentially as it became widespread. Due to the fact that opium trade was carried out using silver, the country's silver reserve was melting day by day. In response, the Chinese government increased its controls on opium, but did not achieve much success in reducing opium consumption. He eventually banned the opium trade.

Britain had lost an important revenue stream. He immediately intervened and war broke out between China and Britain. However, Britain did not neglect to find a justification for itself in the international arena. He entered this war on the grounds of the violation of the principle of free trade, which is the most natural right in the name of civilization. Thus, a series of wars began between Britain and China, which went down in history as the Opium wars. China, which had hitherto been disconnected from the outside world in its own right, bitterly encountered the ugly face of colonialism.

Beginning in 1839 and ending in 1842, China suffered a series of defeats in the "Opium Wars" and finally the Treaty of Nanking was signed, as Britain wanted. With this treaty, China left Hong Kong to England and had to open five important ports (Canton, Shanghai, Foochow, Amoy and Ningpo) to European traders. China was giving up all kinds of control and seizure rights in these ports and was opening its doors to all kinds of goods regardless of their quality. In addition, European traders were granted legal capitulation rights. In later periods, the scope of these rights was further expanded. Even other western European countries were given these rights. Thus, the colonialists forced a large country into the world economic system. The colonial order, which did not recognize any humane rules, had succeeded in seizing the world's largest market.

If we look at the event from a different angle; Historically, Americans used whiskey as their greatest weapon to subjugate the Indians. The British also benefited from encouraging and supporting the use of opium to break up the Chinese Empire from within.