Assess the Aftermath and Impact That the First Opium War Had on China

2327 Words Feb 25th, 2010 10 Pages
Question: Assess the aftermath and impact that the first Opium War had on China

Essay:

The First Opium War fought between Britain and China from 1839-1842 was a clash between two vastly different cultures, one struggling to control trade rights, and the other desperate to limit the impact of foreign trade upon the local population. The war changed the way China acted towards its foreign counterparts, exposed the weaknesses of the Chinese feudal system and forcefully opened-up China to the rest of the world. There were severe economic, social and political consequences that the war had on China.

Prior to the war China had believed that the Chinese empire was the ‘Heavenly Middle Kingdom’ and superior to all other civilisations.
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The Spanish dollar appreciated so much that Canton abolished it and introduced the Mexican dollar. The monetary disturbances in China was enhanced by the internal monetary crises in China were the Chinese copper cash continued to devalue due to poor management and insufficient supply of copper. The monetary crises devastated the Chinese financial system and caused the loss of morale.
With the rush of cheaper Western machine-made products, the home textile industry in China was almost destroyed. For many centuries, clothes were made by hand so this business was heavily impacted by foreign trade. In order to survive, this industry had to decrease the price of their products but, because the production methods remained basically untouched, the cost of production was also unchanged. Therefore the lower price came at the cost of the lower of the living standards of the textile workers.
The Opium War almost entirely collapsed China's economy. However, it also forced China's economy to quickly adapt and evolve. The war rushed China's development of capitalism. Even before the war, a market economy was already developing in China's urban areas. The "invasion" of foreign capitalistic powers enhanced this change. However, the coming of outside influences did not result in the independent development of capitalism in China; rather it turned China into a semi-colonial semi-feudal state. This happened because Chinese industries were

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