Violent confrontation between armed groups over the supply of illegal narcotics is something we commonly associate with criminal gangs in modern cities, but in the mid-19th century Great Britain went to war with Imperial China in order to continue to supply Chinese addicts with opium. The two wars that followed have become known as the Opium Wars, and they led to the utter defeat of China, the establishment of a British colony in Hong Kong, and the continuation of a narcotics trade that was worth millions of pounds each year to the British.
The Opium Wars exposed the weaknesses of the Chinese Qing dynasty in terms of its military abilities and internal corruption. They also exposed divisions in Victorian Britain where people were beginning to question the morality of going to war to support an illegal narcotics trade which caused misery and death for millions of Chinese. In the end, the British were able to overcome their reservations and prosecuted these two wars with great success. British casualties were small and the gains enormous - the British opium trade to China would continue for more than 50 years after the end of the Second Opium War.
In this book you will hear about....
- The joy plant
- Outbreak of the first Opium War
- British superiority and the devil ship
- The treaty of Nanking: first of the unequal treaties
- The inevitable second Opium War
- The fall of Beijing and much more!
For the Chinese Qing dynasty, the Opium Wars marked the beginning of the end. Imperial China had endured for 2,000 years, but within 50 years of the humiliations of the Opium Wars, a revolution overthrew the imperial court and turned China into a republic. Although they are little remembered today, the Opium Wars changed the face not just of China but also of the whole of Asia. This is the story of those wars.