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The British Empire Should Have Been More Careful

By BBC at 10:23 AM 5/31/2020 (PDT)

When a frustrated British Empire first began producing and trading opium in China, the plan was

to achieve a better financial foothold in the Chinese market and reduce the trade deficit by

profiting off of the high demand for the substance. Unfortunately, this scheme has resulted in

far-reaching opium addiction in China.

Opium is a highly addictive narcotic substance derived from the opium poppy, and since it was

originally introduced to China in the 7th century, opium addiction has swept China like a

pandemic, with millions trapped in its vicious, lustful cycle.

The British Empire first began growing opium in British India in the late 18th century, and by

then opium had been prohibited in China for decades. Thus, it is unlikely that the British Traders

were unaware of its severely moreish qualities, so it would be feasible to assume that they were

willing to risk widespread addiction for the benefits of economic improvement.

To make matters worse, the lack of precaution exemplified by the British has plunged the British

Empire and China into a trade war that shows few signs of ending in the near future. And worse,

indirect Anglo-Chinese conflict has started, with each side attacking territory held or within the

sphere of influence of the opposing side. Even as high-class citizens and government officials

became infatuated with opium, British traders continued to carelessly pump tens, then

hundreds, and then thousands of tons of opium into China. The Master-General of the

Ordinance defended the opium trade, calling opium a “great drug” that the people of China

“love,” and the Chief Superintendent of Trade in China outright denied the negative effects of

the opium trade.

This perpetual heavy importation of opium into China is shifting the trade balance in favor of the

British, so it is possible that even if the British Empire were aware of the negative effects their

behavior is having, they might disregard this and continue to act the way they do.

It can be observed that the British Empire’s carelessness has culminated in chaos and drug

addiction throughout China, and the British Empire should reflect on how their actions have

brought us to this moment.

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