Opium War 1939-42 and Unequal Treaties

December 10, 2017 | Author: Jay Teo | Category: Opium, Qing Dynasty, International Politics, China, Trade
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Opium War 1939-42 and Unequal Treaties...


Opium Wars & Unequal Treaties

4/7/2014 4:16:00 AM

The British in India were largely unaware of the harmful effects of opium

 The toughest British troops frequently drank a diluted form of opium with no side effects.

 The import of opium into England was legal with about 5 tons being imported each year (more than what was being brought into China when the Company was able to maintain it‟s high profit margin)

 Cases of addition only occurred among those who took heavy doses over a long period of time

Evidence that the British only saw opium trade as a way for economic gain Warren Hastings  regarded it as a pernicious article of luxury Britain need to find a good that China wanted so that the balance of trade would even out (instead of being in China‟s favor) Chinese market for British products was limited – only some woolen cloth was sold China no longer demanded indigo or raw cotton

 Indigo has been replaced by Prussia‟s blue  Demand of raw cotton from India had stopped abruptly. The Commutation Act of 1784 meant that it reduced British import duties (i.e. tax) on Chinese tea from 110% to 10%

 Everyone (the consumers, even the lower class) could afford it, tea not just confined to the boudoir

 Demand for tea had to be financed through silver of sorting out the balance of trade by finding something that Chinese wanted (i.e. opium)  Evidence that Opium was sold for economic gain: massive outflow of silver out of China  It looked as it China was exporting silver to purchase opium  Between 1750 to 1840, the value of silver only rose by 50%

Britain not at fault for the Opium Trade, Chinese to be blamed – Structuralist Agreement

 Chinese was smoking the opium (with a low morphia content) – a habit that was not found anywhere else in the found

 Chinese had been smoking opium since the 9th century  It was fatally easy to move on to smoking unadulterated opium with a morphia content of nearly 10% Counterpoint: Chinese not at fault, structuralist events in which opium ceased to become expensive and thus available to the majority of China‟s population  lead to Opium War because addiction became a serious issue. Addiction not because China was smoking opium The British East India Trading Company would have maintained its policy of low production with high profit margins if the private opium grower in the western part of India had not competed with the company in shipping opium to China. Note: West India was not part of the company territory. The attempts by the British to stamp out the private growers led to corruption and tyranny so vicious that it threaten British influence among the Rajput princes, and in the end the growing of opium in Malwa had to be accepted. The Company was forced into a price war in the course which opium ceased to be a expensive commodity. Bengal-Malwa price war of 1820 Economic gains – Intentionalist Argument

 Tea from China was paid with silver and the silver the British to pay for it used came from the sale of opium.

 About 1/12 of British revenues at home came from import taxes on tea which could be bought at profit only if silver could be earned by the sale of opium.

In other words, the company was extremely reliant on the sale of opium. The British government was reliant on the company‟s sale of opium because the silver gained from the sale of opium could be used to buy tea at a profit.

The Company was only aware of how reliant it was on the sale of opium after the Chinese government in 1821 attempt to put its anti-opium legislation into effect. China‟s geographical position and foreign policy – Structuralist argument. British and Chinese were too different, inevitable that a conflict would arise – Jack Gray

 China‟s concept of international relation derived from her geographical position  Until the age of oceanic trade, China‟s long coastline was almost a closed frontier  Moral authority in China was maintained by persuading Chinese and nonChinese alike that China was the sole center of civilization and that the Emperor was the universal monarch and that rebellion against him was against morality itself In short, Chinese foreign policy was unwelcoming towards foreigner and the British should not have expected preferential treatment. The Chinese ideology meant that no country except the Chinese Empire could rightly be said to have “officials”. Therefore, when the British demanded that Chinese officials should acknowledge the representatives of the British crown as equals, they were not dealing with mere protocol but were launching a dangerous attack on the whole fabric of political loyalty in China Counterpoint – Fairbank – China had a long history of trade with other countries

 Extensive contact with the Muslim under the Mongol period  Both by land across the Silk Road and by sea at coastal ports  By the time of Zhen He‟s expedition in the early 15th century, Chinese trade goods were found in South and South-East Asia as well as the east coast of Africa

 By 1818, port of calls in the Malay peninsula such as Terengganu, Pahang and Johore were listed in the government as “non-tributary trading countries” - i.e. places frequented by Chinese merchants  In other words, trade with foreign countries indicates that China was not at the sole center of civilization. China‟s foreign policy and geographical position cannot be blamed for the opium war – China already had foreign contact and trade

The End of the East Indian Monopoly – serious issue The Company had not expected any special treatment and only sought the right of direct communication with the Hoppo and a right of appeal from the Hoppo to the Governor General. British government had two options (Guess which one they choose) 1. Force the Chinese to accept international practice so that the rights of the British in Canton could be upheld 2. Communicate with the Chinese on Chinese terms The Qing Dynasty was not at fault for the Opium War. They were willing to do business if it was profitable for them; it was the greed of Britain that led to the Opium War. The Qing court was not in principle hostile to useful trade

 In 1689 and 1727, the court had negotiated treaties with Russia to exchange furs from Siberia for tea, and allowed the Russians to live in a foreigners‟ guesthouse in Beijing.

 The court knew well the value of the southern coastal trade as well, since revenues from the Canton trade went directly into the Imperial Household department.

Tea exports from China grew from 90,000 pounds in 1700 to 2.7 million pounds in 1750 (1700 to 1750 – half a century) An increase of 2.6 million Evidence of trade and Britain‟s reliance on China

Lord George Macartney‟s mission to the court in Beijing in 1793 aimed to promote British trade by creating direct ties between the British government and the emperor. Macartney was not successful and the astronomical inventions he brought along with them was not impressive as the emperor had already received similar items from Jesuits missionaries in earlier decades.

The Napier Mission – 1834 (Showed how violent Britain was and make the possibility of war between Britain and China more likely)

 Napier had conflicting orders of placing Britain on an equal footing with China while adopting conciliatory and friendly methods

Apart from that, Napier was also a haughty character and he also had limited perception

 As an officer of the Crown, he was overly anxious to defend his dignity and his country‟s honor

 When he came to China, he went straight to Canton, took up residence at the British factory, and dispatched a letter to the governor-general announcing his arrival

 In doing this, he violated Chinese regulations on several counts: he did not wait in Macao for permission to come to Canton; he did not secure permission to move into the factory and he did not address the governor-general by a petition through the Hong merchants

 The governor general naturally rejected his letter and ordered him to leave Canton at once

Napier being the typical white man accused the governor-general of “ignorance and obstinacy” and announced that while British had no desire for war, they were “fully prepared” for it.

Napier behaved like he was a royal emissary rather than a superintendent of trade.

 Captain Charles Elliot became the new superintendent of trade  He did not approve of Napier‟s uncompromising and pretentious attitude  He believed that the right way forward was moderation – confidence and strength but at the same time caution and conciliation would convince the Canton authorities that Britain meant no trouble for China and had no territorial ambition.

The Opium War not inevitable if opium trade was legalized. The Emperor‟s rejection of the legalization of the opium trade lead to foreign traders having an oversupply of opium, which lead to the Opium War

Some Chinese were attempting to legalize the opium trade – this idea originated with a group of scholars at the famous academy in Canton

 This idea was well received by most people (including foreign traders) except opium smugglers such as Jardine who admitted that this would remove their livelihood.

 However, the Emperor had no definitive view and when presented with two options to deal with the Opium problem, he rejected the idea to legalize opium and the movement for legalization (May to September 1836) came to a halt

 Foreign traders who had anticipated the legalization found themselves stuck with an oversupply of opium for which they had sent from India.

 Governor-general Teng who assumed office in February 1836 was incorruptible and hard working

 He proceeded to follow the Emperor‟s order and enforce the ban on opium  He prosecuted Chinese opium dealers and addicts and succeeded in destroying the opium smuggling network outside Canton by the end of 1837. As a result of his suppression, the price of opium in Canton fell sharply (which angered the foreign traders, particularly) the British.

 By December 1838, two thousand Chinese opium dealers, brokers and smokers have been imprisoned and execution of addicts took place daily. The stagnation of the opium traffic had a disastrous effect on the British traders. Britain at fault for the War  Commissioner Lin aware of the prestige and power of Britain, and hoped to avoid a clash with her if possible  Chinese did not want the war. Lin made multiple efforts at peace.  He asked the American medical missionary to translate for him a book on International Law so that he could understand the rights of state to prohibit contraband.  He even wrote to Queen Victoria twice in hopes that she would intervene Viewpoint 1  Opium War caused by the traders refusal to cooperate with Lin Viewpoint 2  Lin was too harsh with the foreign traders  On March 18, 1839. Lin ordered the foreign traders in Canton to surrender all their opium within three days and sign a bond pledging not to engage in the illicit traffic in the future.

 The foreigners ignored his deadline and surrendered 1000 + chests of opium as a token which was just plain disgusting and an insult to Lin – of course there was more opium  Lin threatened to decapitate two of the Hong merchants  The foreign traders being selfish pricks allowed this to happen and Howqua and Mowqua (the two senior Hong merchants) were forced to wear chains and the former‟s son and the latter‟s brother were thrown into prison  On the 24th of March, Lin ordered the stoppage of trade in Canton and the withdrawal of Chinese servants which the British relied on (Lin being too harsh?)  Captain Charles Elliot considered this a piratical act against British lives, liberty and property but to Lin it was a rightful enforcement of Chinese laws and a just punishment for the depraved smugglers (Viewpoint 3  Conflicting ideology and culture)  Hong merchants, linguists and former servants would smuggle in food  The greatest discomfort that the 350 British trapped in the factories had was boredom (Counterpoint to viewpoint 3  The British was unjustified in their action) Viewpoint 4  Elliot to be blamed for the Opium War (Immediate cause)  There had been a stagnation of opium for several months before the detention.  One of the traders noted that “there had not been a chest of opium traded in the past four months”  Some 50 000 chests were laying untouched and more were on their way from Bombay.  It occurred to Elliot that by surrendering the opium to the Chinese, the Chinese would be responsible for the cost of the opium. March 1839  Elliot ordered the British traders to surrender their opium to him for deliverance to Lin. With his declaration, the opium was no longer the private property of the traders but the public property of the British government.  Elliot now had a reason to declare war on China.

Viewpoint 5  An extension of viewpoint 4  Immediate cause Also an example of viewpoint 3  Conflicting culture and ideology  The tense situation in Canton was further strained by the killing of a Chinese villager by a group of English seamen in Kowloon in July 1939.  Commissioner Lin demanded the surrender of the culprits – one life for another but Elliot refused to submit British subjects to Chinese law and tried the six suspects himself aboard the Fort William and sentenced them to 2-3 months imprisonment  However, when the sailors got back to England, they went unpunished because the government ruled that Elliot had no authority over them. Side note  Although Elliot was instructed to refrain from employing the humiliating petition to address the Chinese, Elliot used the petition form in his first message to the governor-general in order to create a good impression and to show Britain‟s good faith. Opium smuggling was a moral gray area  The East Indian Trading Company encouraged the cultivation of poppy and sold the refined opium at auctions. After this, they took no part in the trade. The opium was bought by private merchants, and shipped to China on their account  The opium was transferred at sea where British jurisdiction did not apply and Chinese jurisdiction could not be enforced  It was taken ashore by Tanka „boat people‟ and it was distributed inland under the protection of members of anti-Manchu societies such as the Triads  Failure to legalize opium in 1821 and 1829 was profit-driven  Chinese opium merchants were financed by the great Shanxi banks whose ability to finance the merchants came from the sale of opium  On it‟s way to shore, the opium paid “squeeze” to the Hoppo  Hoppo had to pay 1 million dollars annually to the Emperor – in other words, even the Emperor benefitted from the opium trade

 East Indian Company in China to formally end on 1834  Company preoccupied with profit whereas the British government were concerned about national honor and prestige  British policy in China was based on the belief that the situation in China was the same as the circumstances in Bengal in which Britain had been drawn into governing India  For the British, China must not become another India  After the Mogul emperors power in India waned, the British were forced to take into its own hands the administration of the Bengal treasury to ensure that British rights were honored  To a certain extent, the same thing was happening in China, privilege, which had formerly been enjoyed, had been withdrawn. It was also clear that the Chinese Empire was becoming feeble  In these circumstances, a repetition of the history of Bengal seemed possible  The British government felt that they their grievances had to be redressed by the Chinese government Main problems with the Canton trade system The repressiveness of the Canton trade system existed under the East Indian Trading Company but after the Company‟s monopoly expired, the British government took over to abolish this system  Jurisdiction (Lady Hughes incident)  Trade could only be done through the Hongs merchants  Other Chinese traders could only trade with the British under the aegis of a Hong merchant and in mutual surety group of 5  Trade could only be done at Canton in the trading season  Restriction on movement and families  Confined to an island on the outskirts of the city  Could only exercise on the island itself – a place so small that one could walk its circumference in 10 minutes  No wife or family permitted  Counterpoint to the Canton Trade System  Factories were comfortable  Profits made from trade for Company servants and private traders high enough to ensure that they could retire early  System well-oiled by corruption

o In the 1830 House of Commons Committee, all witnesses proclaimed that “business could be dispatched with greater case and facility at Canton than anywhere else in the world “ o Hong merchants sold their monopoly to private traders o Most of them were financially weak  The limitation of trade to Canton was evaded by trading voyages up the coast of Canton  Silver was smuggled out and the restriction on the export of silk was a dead letter  Despite the advantages at Canton, the new private foreign traders would not rest until they have complete freedom of trade  When the British government took over the Company‟s monopoly in Canton, it was under public pressure to secure an end to all restriction under the Canton system 3 problems that the British government had to deal with 1) Hong merchants unable to finance foreign trade 2) Power to disciplined British nationals 3) Accepting Chinese conventions of communication which denied equal status to representatives of the British crown By 1770, only 4 out of the 13 Hong merchants were solvent Once in debt to a British firms, the Hong merchant found himself in a poor bargaining position, forced not only to see his good at a low price but also forced to buy British cotton piece-goods for which there was a very limited market Treaty of Nanking       

Huge amount of money paid to Britain Abolition of the Co-Hong system Opening of new ports (Ningbo, Shanghai etc.) Hong Kong to British Equality in Official Correspondence Tariff Opium not even mentioned

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