DBQ: Opium in China
While most of the Western Hemisphere was undergoing drastic advancements, such as former colonies gaining their independence and transforming into more modernized nations, a lot of mishaps were occurring in the Eastern Hemisphere—China, specifically—a nation that was notorious for its isolation from foreign influences. European nations began to greedily eye China’s abundance of desirable resources, such as tea, porcelain, and silk. However, China had very little need or desire for European goods. In an attempt to resolve the trade imbalance Britain began importing opium into China, which would prove to be disastrous for the Chinese population. The dispute over the importation of the drug eventually led to the
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. . they now suddenly exalt themselves here. They have carried on a large trade and poisoned our brave people with opium . . . the English barbarians murder all of us that they can.” The speech went on to express how the English men’s desires could never be satisfied and that they could not know that the peace they were proposing was real or pretend, so their only option was to unite together and go to war (Document 9). In Document 4, we are presented with the perspective of a European scholar named Thomas Arnold. Although he was not a Chinese citizen, he was opposed to the Opium War. He viewed the war as “wicked . . . a national sin of the greatest possible magnitude.” He pointed out that this war was completely unjustified, as it was only for the purpose of maintaining the smuggling of a demoralizing drug that the government of China wanted to keep out. However, Britain still chose to fight the war for nothing more than personal gain. After Britain’s refusal to end the trade of opium, the Chinese—led by Lin Zexu—blockaded European trading ports and confiscated about 20,000 chests of opium from warehouses. Britain quickly retaliated, utilizing their powerful navy and attacking China by sea in 1839. The war continued for the next three years. Document 7 depicts an Opium War battle scene in which British troops capture Chin-Keange-Foo on July 1st, 1842. The war ended with China’s defeat, who asked to negotiate for peace.