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"In the 18th century, ... the (East India) Company created a British monopoly on opium buying in Bengal by prohibiting licensing opium farmers and prohibiting private cultivation. The monopoly system established in 1799 continued with minimal changes until 1947.
"... 1799 ... the drug was smuggled into China from Bengal by traffickers and agency houses such as Jardine, Matheson & Co and Dent & Co. in amounts averaging 900 tons a year. The proceeds of the drug-smugglers landing their cargoes at Lintin Island were paid into the Company's factory at Canton..."
"In 1838 with the amount of smuggled opium entering China approaching 1,400 tons a year, the Chinese imposed a death penalty for opium smuggling and sent a Special Imperial Commissioner, Lin Zexu, to curb smuggling. This resulted in the First Opium War (1839–42). After the war Hong Kong island was ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Nanking and the Chinese market opened to the opium traders of Britain and other nations. The Jardines and Apcar and Company dominated the trade, although P&O also tried to take a share. A Second Opium War fought by Britain and France against China lasted from 1856 until 1860 and led to the Treaty of Tientsin which legalised the importation of opium."
By 1838, the British were selling roughly 1,400 tons of opium per year to China. Legalisation of the opium trade was the subject of ongoing debate within the Chinese administration, but it was repeatedly rejected, and as of 1838 the government sentenced native drug traffickers to death.
In 1839, the Daoguang Emperor appointed scholar-official Lin Zexu to the post of Special Imperial Commissioner, with the task of eradicating the opium trade. Lin sent an open letter to Queen Victoria questioning the moral reasoning of the British government.
Lin banned the sale of opium and demanded that all supplies of the drug be surrendered to the Chinese authorities. He also closed the channel to Canton, effectively holding British traders hostage in the city. As well as seizing opium supplies in the factories, Chinese troops boarded British ships in international waters outside Chinese jurisdiction, where their cargo was still legal, and destroyed the opium aboard.
During April and May 1839, British and American dealers surrendered 20,283 chests and 200 sacks of opium which was publicly destroyed on the beach outside of Guangzhou. Lin was able to sustain stability and prohibition policy for many months.
After the opium was surrendered, trade was restarted on the strict condition that no more drugs would be smuggled into China. Lin demanded that all merchants sign a bond promising not to deal in opium, under penalty of death. The British officially opposed signing of the bond, but some merchants who did not trade opium, such as Olyphant & Co. were willing to sign.
Dent & Co. or Dent's, was one of the wealthiest British merchant firms, or Hongs, active in China during the 19th century. A direct rival to Jardine, Matheson & Co, together with Russell & Co., these three companies are recognised as the original Canton Hongs active in early Colonial Hong Kong.
With such government support such as *establishing government sanctioned monopolies*, and sending ships and armies to wage wars to protect the trade, its hard to tell the difference between the two.
originally posted by: nOraKat
a reply to: Shamrock6
The point of the post was not to say how huge it was, but to point out that the government was involved in the drug trade.
- official Lin Zexu wrote to 'Her Majesty'
"Your Majesty has not before been thus officially notified, and you may plead ignorance of the severity of our laws, but I now give my assurance that we mean to cut this harmful drug forever."
Lin pledged that nothing would divert him from his missions," If the traffic in opium were not stopped, a few decades from now we shall not only be without soldiers to resist the enemy, but also in want of silver to provide an army.
Hong Kong was seized by the British and a free and open port. Tariffs were abolished thus preventing the Chinese from raising future duties to protect domestic industries and extraterritorial practices exempted Westerners from Chinese law.
Most importantly, the opium problem was never addressed and after the treaty was signed opium addiction doubled.
Do you think that the Chinese emperor was really concerned about the welfare of the people or just on the problem of imports in general? The movement of wealth out of the country?
Critics.. denounced the war as "unjust and iniquitous" and criticised Lord Palmerston's willingness "to protect an infamous contraband traffic." The public and press in the United States and Britain expressed outrage that Britain was supporting the opium trade.
As many have noted, the U.S. government has – at least at some times in some parts of the world – protected drug operations. (Big American banks also launder money for drug cartels.. The U.S. military has openly said that it is protecting Afghani poppy fields..