Why was opium made in China

The Second Opium War

The imperial gardens and palaces in Beijing spread over 350 hectares, the area of ​​a small town. Since the beginning of the 18th century, every Chinese emperor had it expanded and given new splendor. Individual buildings were built in the European Rococo style. But on October 6, 1860, British and French troops stormed these masterpieces of Chinese architecture and horticulture.

They stole the art treasures - including precious clocks that the English King George III. Had given to Emperor Quianlong. 300 carloads full of jewels, silk, paintings and sculptures, carpets, candlesticks and furniture were carried away. The spoils of war also included five small Pekingese who are considered the ancestors of the European pedigree dogs. To cover up the looting, Commander-in-Chief Lord Elgin ordered the destruction of all Imperial palaces. Chinese and Europeans alike were outraged. The French poet Victor Hugo wrote in his article "Expédition de Chine":

"Imagine two robbers breaking into a museum, looting, destroying and burning everything, and laughing hand in hand with their pockets full of treasures disappearing. One of the robbers is called England, the other France."

The armed conflicts between China and the European colonial powers England and France were trade wars and went down in history as the first and second opium wars. China did not tolerate foreign merchants on its territory, but exported luxury goods such as silk and tea to Europe. By 1840 the bilateral trade balance had gotten into a threatening imbalance. European goods were hardly sold in China. Only the opium trade, in which England was leading at the time, promised a solution. However, the Chinese emperor banned the consumption of the drug that the British imported from India. His drug commissioner Lin Zexu wrote to Queen Victoria:

"I've heard that opium smoking is strictly forbidden in your country. Then why are you allowing it to spoil other countries? What would your honorable government do if people from other countries brought opium to England to sell and that?" To seduce people? "

Chinese and foreign drug dealers put pressure on Lin Zexu alike and had tons of the opium distributed via the East India Company confiscated and destroyed. In 1839 the British government intervened and dispatched a fleet of 16 warships and a crew of 4,000. In the summer of 1842, China had to surrender, cede Hong Kong to Great Britain, open its ports and allow unrestricted trade. The former superpower in the Far East has effectively become a colony of European powers.

14 years later, the British declared war on China again. The occasion: Chinese officials had seized a British-flagged ship that was illegally transporting opium and arrested the crew. With French help, the Chinese troops were defeated within two years. The new peace treaty, which Russia and the USA also joined, expanded the access of foreign trading companies to China. When Emperor Xianfeng refused to allow foreign embassies in Beijing, the acts of war were resumed and brutally ended with the destruction of the palaces in Beijing.

The imperial palaces and gardens have now been turned into historical sites. Reconstruction of the building, once made of wood, has already been considered. One could rely on pictures that the Italian photographer Felice Beato took during the Second Opium War just before the destruction. The military doctor David Rennie wrote of him:

"Thirteen dead Chinese lay by a cannon in the north-west corner of the defenses. Signor Beato was very excited. He described the group as 'beautiful' and asked not to change them, he wanted to take a few more pictures first."

The recordings of this first photo reporter in history are evidence of the military triumph and strength of the British Empire, but at the same time also documents of an immense loss. The toggle agreements concluded at the time between China and the western allies remained in effect until 1943.