Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Ancient China’s Opium Problem

Posted by w_thames_the_d on July 7, 2011


From  Drugging a Nation The Story of China and the Opium Curse (Samuel Merwin)
Two centuries ago when small quantities of the drug were brought in from Java, the Chinese government objected. In 1729 the importation was prohibited. As late as 1765, this importation, carried on by energetic traders in spite of official resistance, had never exceeded two hundred chests a year. But with the advent of the company in 1773, the trade grew. In spite of a second Chinese prohibition in 1796, half-heartedly enforced by corrupt mandarins, the total for 1820 was 4,000 chests. The Chinese government was faced not only with the possibility of a race debauchery but also with an immediate and alarming drain of silver from the country. The balance of the trade was against them. Either as an economic or moral problem, the situation was grave.
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