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British Approach to Opium Crisis

By Sky News at 2:20 PM 5/30/2020 (PDT)

Opium sales have skyrocketed in Britain as they continue flooding the Chinese economy with the drug in exchange for luxury goods, including silk and tea. Unfortunately for the British, the Chinese government is enforcing harsh restrictions and bans on opium sales as more and more of their population succumb to addiction. The British are now in a difficult position as maintaining opium sales with China is crucial to the success of their economy.

Various British officials are currently struggling with the issue of either negotiating with China or using force and violence to open trade. Those who believe negotiation is the suitable strategy are considering the detrimental effects of war and violence on human lives and the economy. For example, the Representative of Dent and Co, the delegate of a trading company in China, believes in finding a compromise with the Chinese government rather than resorting to violence.

The Representative of Dent and Co went on to expand upon their views by explaining that the Western goal shouldn’t be to ship the most amount of opium into China. Instead, they should focus on developing a marketing strategy that makes the most out of the normal shipload of opium regularly being imported into China. Since a majority of the upperclassmen in China are primary consumers of opium, the delegate reassured the committee that the best way to continue opium sales is to convince and persuade the Chinese government to lift opium bans.

The Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China expressed agreement to the prior sentiments by stating that military power shouldn’t be Britain’s priority. Their perspective is one that favors negotiations with China while using the public to their advantage, as lots of the Chinese public are key consumers of opium. On the contrary, several other British officials disagree with the compromising tactic and would rather build up a strong navy.

For instance, the Governor of Macau was adamant in insisting that military efforts be increased to remove Chinese authority from Macau. In order to use Macau as an unloading port for opium and sneak opium into China in “more discrete ways,” the Governor of Macau strongly believes in increasing military presence. Correspondingly, the Master-General of the Ordnance stated that China must be forced into a desperate position in order for the British economy to prosper. In order to make “resource-rich” China dependent on Britain’s economy, the Master-General claimed that an ideal battle strategy should be implemented against China. Another notable speaker who expressed similar views is the Commander in Chief of the East Indies. As the commander of the British Navy in the Western Pacific, he strongly believes in building up the navy around China to ensure that China remains a consistent buyer of opium. He touched on points including a blockade around China to ensure no counterattacks against Britain occur.

Overall, amidst the issue of opium sales, Britain is struggling with developing the best tactics for reestablishing strong opium trade with China. Will they resort to military force or continue compromising with the Chinese government?

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