Opinion: If Britain and China want to sign a treaty, one of them must lose on Opium

By Jakarta Post at 2:25 PM 5/31/2020 (PDT)

As the last session of the Joint-Crisis Committee begins, the biggest sticking point is the issue of opium. The Chinese Minister of Revenue reminded the British of opium’s harmful effects, bringing up how it was extremely addictive and easy to overdose on.

The British General of Ordnance then praised the benefits of opium, claiming that it would “vastly benefit everyone’s mental health.” The Chinese did not appreciate this attempt to glorify opium, and asked why British citizens did not choose to partake in the drug if it is so enjoyable. More arguing over the effects of opium continued thereafter, with both sides attempting to glorify and demonize the drug. When the committee transitioned to an unmod, the issue of opium remained.

While the British want to legalize opium and continue importing it to China, the Chinese are adamant that opium will not be made legal. When the Master General of Ordnance offered to rebrand opium as “poppy powder,” the Chinese refused to consider it. The legalization of opium was “absolutely no-negotiable,” the Leader of the Canton Cohong insisted, with the Viceroy of Liangguang adding her fierce support. Although the Chinese province of Liangguang has been able to successfully curb their citizen’s opium addictions, the impact of opium on their citizens has continued. The Viceroy of Liangguang reminded the committee that former addicts had trouble finding work, and their children were traumatized by their parent’s addictions.

It is clear that even if the two sides can agree on ports, reparations, and fighting, the issue of opium is so central to the Opium Wars that no successful agreement can be made unless one side makes a concession on opium.

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