First Opium War Analysis

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The First Opium War took place between Great Britain and China from 1839-1842 over Great Britain’s right to trade opium, and to a lesser extent to preserve international trade in Asian Continent. While the war itself is interesting, several significant economic insights can be obtained by observing how the economic conditions of the time brought about war. At the turn of the 18th Century, China saw itself as the best country in the world. They were almost completely self-sufficient and had been for centuries, which contributed towards China’s lack of interest in international trade. Any foreign trade was, by Chinese culture, considered a tribute to the Emperor, for which he would give small gifts in return. (The Economic…) Their excessive pride …show more content…
There were two central problems in Chinese-English economic relations. The first is the pride of the Chinese and their refusal to allow widespread international trade among their country. While also an unwise economic move that lowered the standard of living of the poor, this also had the political effects of angering other nations. The second issue was that Britain seemingly had nothing to trade with China. This is not necessarily the case, as the Industrial Revolution left Britain as a global powerhouse in the production of capital and manufactured goods. Unfortunately, these manufactured goods would not be useful in China as they were considered extravagant or would only be useful to the poor, who could not trade with Britain. However, Britain also possessed a vast array of colonies that produced a vast number of goods, yet none of them were shipped to China, as most of those goods were in the form of consumable food items, from meat to cheese to wheat. Therefore, many of the goods would not be able to make it China reliably before perishing, In addition, these food items would likely be looked down upon as something foreign and obviously inferior to Chinese goods. (Purdue) While the hungry peasants likely would have appreciated this change, the elites saw no need to change their way of life. Ultimately, Britain had to …show more content…
One can see the dangers of pride in an interconnected world, brewing hatred between people, lack of cooperation, and a lower standard of living. This also shows the need for respect in society, giving other people a chance to offer what they have, even if it is different, as they might surprise us. The Opium war also highlights the dangers of only two monopolies engaging in trade, as they ignore the will of those that they are supposed to serve. Lastly, we have seen that when faced with problems, humans have a strange tendency to get around them. Whether dealing with regulation or a lack of a suitable trading good, people tend to be ingenious and persistent enough to get around any roadblocks and solve their own

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