The history of opium in China began with the use of opium for medicinal purposes during the 7th century. In the 17th century the practice of mixing opium with tobacco for smoking spread from Southeast Asia, creating a far greater demand.
Imports of opium into China stood at 200 chests annually in 1729, 4,480 long tons (4,550 t)), approximately equivalent to global production of opium for the decade surrounding the year 2000.when the first anti-opium edict was promulgated. By the time Chinese authorities reissued the prohibition in starker terms in 1799, the figure had leaped; 4,500 chests were imported in the year 1800. The decade of the 1830s witnessed a rapid rise in opium trade, and by 1838, just before the First Opium War, it had climbed to 40,000 chests. The rise continued on after the Treaty of Nanking (1842) that concluded the war. By 1858 annual imports had risen to 70,000 chests (
By the late 19th century Chinese domestic opium production challenged and then surpassed imports. The 20th century opened with effective campaigns to suppress domestic farming, and in 1907 the British government signed a treaty to eliminate imports. The fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911, however, led to a resurgence in domestic production. The Nationalist Government, provincial governments, the revolutionary bases of the Communist Party of China, and the British colonial government of Hong Kong all depended on opium taxes as major sources of revenue, as did the Japanese occupation governments during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).[ citation needed ] After 1949, both the respective governments of the People's Republic of China on the mainland and of the Republic of China on Taiwan claimed to have successfully suppressed the widespread growth and use of opium. In fact, opium products were still in production in Xinjiang and Northeast China.
Historical accounts suggest that opium first arrived in China during the Tang dynasty (618–907) as part of the merchandise of Arab traders. Later on, Song Dynasty (960–1279) poet and pharmacologist Su Dongpo recorded the use of opium as a medicinal herb: "Daoists often persuade you to drink the jisu water, but even a child can prepare the yingsu [A] soup."
Initially used by medical practitioners to control bodily fluid and preserve qi or vital force, during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the drug also functioned as an aphrodisiac or chunyao (春药) as Xu Boling records in his mid-fifteenth century Yingjing Juan:
It is mainly used to treat masculinity, strengthen sperm, and regain vigour. It enhances the art of alchemists, sex and court ladies. Frequent use helps to cure the chronic diarrhea that causes the loss of energy ... Its price equals that of gold.
Ming rulers obtained opium via the tributary system, when it was known as wuxiang (烏香) or "black spice". The Collected Statutes of the Ming Dynasty record gifts to successive Ming emperors of up to 100 kilograms (220 lb) of wuxiang amongst tribute from the Kingdom of Siam, which also included frankincense, costus root, pepper, ivory, rhino horn and peacock feathers.
First listed as a taxable commodity in 1589[ citation needed ], opium remained legal until the end of Ming dynasty, 1637.[ citation needed ]
In the 16th century the Portuguese became aware of the lucrative medicinal and recreational trade of opium into China, and from their factories across Asia chose to supply the Canton System, to satisfy both the medicinal and the recreational use of the drug. By 1729 the Yongzheng Emperor had criminalised the new recreational smoking of opium in his empire. Following the 1764 Battle of Buxar, the British East India Company (EIC) gained control of tax collection, along with the former Mughal Empire opium monopoly in the province of Bengal. The East India Company Act, 1793 formally establlished this monopoly. million in debt as a result of the Indian war and the insatiable demand for Chinese tea in the British market, which had to be paid for in silver.The EIC was £28
To redress the imbalance, the EIC began auctions of opium, which was gathered in taxes, in Calcutta. Profits soared. Since importation of opium into China had been banned by Chinese law, the EIC established an indirect trading scheme partially relying on legal markets and leveraging illicit ones. British merchants would buy tea in Canton (Guangzhou) on credit, and balance their debts by selling opium at auction in Calcutta, then transport it to the Chinese coast aboard British ships, sell it to native merchants who would sell it China. According to 19th Century sinologist Edward Parker, there were four types of opium smuggled into China from India: kung pan t'ou (公班土, gongban tu or "Patna"); Pak t'ou (白土, bai tu or "Malwa"); Persian, Kem fa t'ou (金花土, jinhua tu) and the "smaller kong pan", which was of a "dearer sort", i.e. more expensive.A description of the cargo aboard Hercules at Lintin in July 1833 distinguished between "new" and "old" Patna, "new" and "old" Benares, and Malwa; the accounting also specifies the number of chests of each type, and the price per chest. The "chests" [B] contained small balls of opium that had originated in the Indian provinces of Bengal and Madras.
In 1797 the EIC further tightened its grip on the opium trade by enforcing direct trade between opium farmers and the British, and ending the role of Bengali purchasing agents. British exports of opium to China grew from an estimated 15 long tons (15,000 kg) in 1730 to 75 long tons (76,000 kg) in 1773 shipped in over two thousand chests. The Jiaqing Emperor issued a decree banning imports of the drug in 1799. By 1804 the trade deficit had turned into a surplus, leading to seven million silver dollars going to India between 1806 and 1809. Meanwhile, Americans entered the opium trade with less expensive but inferior Turkish opium and by 1810 had around 10% of the trade in Canton. The EIC opium processed in Patna and Benares was supplemented in the 1820s with opium from Malwa in the non-British controlled part of India. Competition drove prices down, but production was stepped up.
In the same year the Emperor issued a further edict:
Opium has a harm. Opium is a poison, undermining our good customs and morality. Its use is prohibited by law. Now the commoner, Yang, dares to bring it into the Forbidden City. Indeed, he flouts the law! However, recently the purchasers, eaters, and consumers of opium have become numerous. Deceitful merchants buy and sell it to gain profit....If we confine our search for opium to the seaports, we fear the search will not be sufficiently thorough. We should also order the general commandant of the police and police- censors at the five gates to prohibit opium and to search for it at all gates. If they capture any violators, they should immediately punish them and should destroy the opium at once. As to Kwangtung (Guangdong) and Fukien (Fujian), the provinces from which opium comes, we order their viceroys, governors, and superintendents of the maritime customs to conduct a thorough search for opium, and cut off its supply.
The decree had little effect. By Qianlong’s time opium had become a mainstream recreation among scholars and officials, and by the 1830s the practice had become widespread in cities. The increase in popularity was a result of both social and economic shifts between the Ming and the Qing dynasties in which there was a boost in commercialization, consumerism, and urbanization of opium within the general public.“Opium,” says one recent scholar, became “leisurely, urban, cultured and a status symbol” as an evidence of wealth, leisure, and culture. The Qing government, far away in Beijing, was unable to halt opium smuggling in the southern provinces. A porous Chinese border and rampant local demand facilitated the trade. By 1838 there were millions of Chinese opium users--opium was the main pain killer in a pre-aspirin age. They were less reliable workers and the silver they sent abroad was hurting the economy. Therefore the Daoguang Emperor demanded action. Officials at the court who advocated legalizing and taxing the trade were defeated by those who advocated suppressing it. The Emperor sent the leader of the hard line faction, Special Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu, to Canton, where he quickly arrested Chinese opium dealers and summarily demanded that foreign firms turn over their stocks with no compensation. When they refused, Lin stopped trade altogether and placed the foreign residents under virtual siege in their factories, eventually forcing the merchants to surrender their opium. Lin destroyed the confiscated opium, a total of some 1,000 long tons (1,016 t), a process which took 23 days.
In compensation for the opium destroyed by Commissioner Lin British traders demanded compensation from their home government. However, British authorities believed that the Chinese were responsible for payment and sent expeditionary forces from India, which ravaged the Chinese coast in a series of battles and dictated the terms of settlement. The 1842 Treaty of Nanking not only opened the way for further opium trade, but ceded the territory of Hong Kong, unilaterally fixed Chinese tariffs at a low rate, gave Britain most favored nation status and permitted them diplomatic representation. Three million dollars in compensation for debts that the Hong merchants in Canton owed British merchants for the destroyed opium was also to be paid under Article V.
Despite the new ports available for trade under the Treaty of Nanking, by 1854 Britain's imports from China had reached nine times their exports to the country. At the same time British imperial finances came under further pressure from the expense of administering the burgeoning colonies of Hong Kong and Singapore in addition to India. Only the latter's opium could balance the deficit.Along with various complaints about the treatment of British merchants in Chinese ports and the Qing government's refusal to accept further foreign ambassadors, the relatively minor "Arrow Incident" provided the pretext the British needed to once more resort to military force to ensure the opium kept flowing. The Arrow was a merchant lorcha with an expired British registration that the Qing authorities seized for alleged salt smuggling. British authorities complained to the Governor-general of Liangguang, Ye Mingchen, that the seizure breached Article IX of the 1843 Treaty of the Bogue with regard to extraterritoriality. Matters quickly escalated and led to the Second Opium War, sometimes referred to as the "Arrow War" or the "Second Anglo-Chinese War", which broke out in 1856. A number of clashes followed until the war ended with the signature of the Treaty of Tientsin in 1860. Although the new treaty did not expressly legalise opium, it opened a further five ports to trade and for the first time allowed foreign traders access to the vast hinterland of China beyond the coast.
The treaties with the British soon led to similar arrangements with the United States and France. These later became known as the Unequal Treaties, while the Opium Wars, according to Chinese historians, represented the start of China's "Century of humiliation".
The opium trade faced intense enmity from the later British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone.As a member of Parliament, Gladstone called it "most infamous and atrocious" referring to the opium trade between China and British India in particular. Gladstone was fiercely against both of the Opium Wars and ardently opposed to the British trade in opium to China. He lambasted it as "Palmerston's Opium War" and said that he felt "in dread of the judgments of God upon England for our national iniquity towards China" in May 1840. Gladstone criticized it as "a war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated in its progress to cover this country with permanent disgrace,". His hostility to opium stemmed from the effects of opium brought upon his sister Helen. Due to the First Opium war brought on by Palmerston, there was initial reluctance to join the government of Peel on part of Gladstone before 1841.
Once the turmoil caused by the mid-century Taiping Rebellion died down, the economy came to depend on opium to play several roles. Merchants found the substance useful as a substitute for cash, as it was readily accepted in the interior provinces such as Sichuan and Yunnan while the drug weighed less than the equivalent amount of copper. Since poppies could be grown in almost any soil or weather, cultivation quickly spread. Local officials could then meet their tax quotas by relying on poppy growers even in areas where other crops had not recovered. Although the government continued to require suppression, local officials often merely went through the motions both because of bribery and because they wanted to avoid antagonizing local farmers who depended on this lucrative crop. One official complained that when people heard a government inspector was coming, they would merely pull up a few poppy stalks to spread by the side of the road to give the appearance of complying. A provincial governor observed that opium, once regarded as a poison, was now treated in the same way as tea or rice. Recreational use of opium expanded to all areas of China from the urban inland to the rural county sides. It also filtered down form the urban elites and middle class to the lower, working class citizens.By the 1880s, even governors who had initially suppressed opium smoking and poppy production now depended on opium taxes.
The historian Jonathan Spence notes that the harm opium caused has long been clear, but that in a stagnating economy, opium supplied fluid capital and created new sources of taxes. Smugglers, poor farmers, coolies, retail merchants and officials all depended on opium for their livelihood. In the last decade of the dynasty, however, a focused moral outrage overcame these vested interests.
When the Qing government launched new opium suppression campaigns after 1901, the opposition no longer came from the British, whose sales had suffered greatly from domestic competition in any case, but from Chinese farmers who would be wiped out by the loss of their most profitable crop-derivative. Further opposition to the government moves came from wholesalers and retailers as well as from the millions of opium users, many of whom came from influential families.The government persevered, creating further dissent amongst the people, and at the same time promoted cooperation with international anti-narcotic agencies. Nevertheless, despite the imposition of new blanket import duties under the 1902 Mackay Treaty, Indian opium remained exempt and taxable at 110 taels per chest with the treaty stating "there was no intention of interfering with China's right to tax native opium".
The International Opium Commission observed that opium smoking was a fashionable, even refined pastime, especially among the young, yet many in society condemned the habit. 35,000 metric tons (34,000 long tons) in 1906 to 4,000 metric tons (3,900 long tons) in 1911.At this time the act of opium smoking was prevalent among students, soldiers, urban middle class, and wealthier peasants. One of the most influential groups was the sex industry that dominated the scene as the combination of both opium smoking and sex was the favoured past time. In 1907 Great Britain signed a treaty agreeing to gradually eliminate opium exports to China over the next decade while China agreed to eliminate domestic production over that period. Estimates of domestic production fell from
The combination of foreign and domestic efforts proved largely successful, but the fall of the Qing government in 1911 effectively meant the end of the anti-opium campaign. Local and provincial governments quickly turned back to opium as a source of revenue, and foreign governments no longer felt obliged to continue their efforts to eliminate the trade.
In the northern provinces of Ningxia and Suiyuan in China, Chinese Muslim General Ma Fuxiang both prohibited and engaged in the opium trade. It was hoped that Ma Fuxiang would have improved the situation, since Chinese Muslims were well known for opposition to smoking opium. million from taxing those sales in 1923. General Ma had been using the bank, a branch of the Government of China's exchequer, to arrange for silver currency to be transported to Baotou to use it to sponsor the trade.Ma Fuxiang officially prohibited opium and made it illegal in Ningxia, but the Guominjun reversed his policy; by 1933, people from every level of society were abusing the drug, and Ningxia was left in destitution. In 1923, an officer of the Bank of China from Baotou found out that Ma Fuxiang was assisting the drug trade in opium which helped finance his military expenses. He earned $2
The Nationalist Government under General Chiang Kai Shek during the Nanjing Decade (1928- 1937) followed contradictory opium policies. Chiang himself was morally opposed to opium use, but other government ministers saw opium as a source of much needed revenue. The government first attempted to reform the people into proper citizens to conform to the modern standards, then raised the official price, which discouraged a certain number of people, then sometimes shot the recidivists (strangely about one per county).Chiang also turned to the Green Gang mob boss Du Yuesheng to head the Shanghai Opium Suppression Bureau. Remarked one American diplomat, "the real motive appears to be to increase revenues by drawing within the orbit of the Opium Suppression Bureau the opium traffic in the Settlement and French Concessions." Prohibition, that is, was a guise to extend the government opium monopoly. "Suppression" officials talked openly of their duty to realize more opium revenue for the government.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War, to solve financial crisis, the Chinese Communist Party in the Shaan-Gan-Ning Base Area fostered opium plantation and dealing, selling to Japanese-occupied and Kuomintang provinces.
The Mao Zedong government is generally credited with eradicating both consumption and production of opium during the 1950s using unrestrained repression and social reform.Ten million addicts were forced into compulsory treatment, dealers were executed, and opium-producing regions were planted with new crops. Remaining opium production shifted south of the Chinese border into the Golden Triangle region. The remnant opium trade primarily served Southeast Asia, but spread to American soldiers during the Vietnam War, with 20 percent of soldiers regarding themselves as addicted during the peak of the epidemic in 1971. In 2003, China was estimated to have four million regular drug users and one million registered drug addicts.
Opium is dried latex obtained from the seed capsules of the opium poppy Papaver somniferum. Approximately 12 percent of opium is made up of the analgesic alkaloid morphine, which is processed chemically to produce heroin and other synthetic opioids for medicinal use and for the illegal drug trade. The latex also contains the closely related opiates codeine and thebaine, and non-analgesic alkaloids such as papaverine and noscapine. The traditional, labor-intensive method of obtaining the latex is to scratch ("score") the immature seed pods (fruits) by hand; the latex leaks out and dries to a sticky yellowish residue that is later scraped off and dehydrated. The word "meconium" historically referred to related, weaker preparations made from other parts of the opium poppy or different species of poppies.
The Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing) was a peace treaty which ended the First Opium War (1839–1842) between the United Kingdom and China on 29 August 1842. It was the first of what the Chinese later called the unequal treaties.
The First Opium War, also known as the Opium War or the Anglo-Chinese War, was a series of military engagements fought between Britain and the Qing dynasty of China. The immediate issue was Chinese official seizure of opium stocks at Canton to stop the banned opium trade, and threatening the death penalty for future offenders. The British government insisted on the principles of free trade, equal diplomatic recognition among nations, and backed the merchants' demands. The British navy defeated the Chinese using technologically superior ships and weapons, and the British then imposed a treaty that granted territory to Britain and opened trade with China.
The Second Opium War, also known as the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the British Empire and the French Empire against the Qing dynasty of China that lasted from 1856 to 1860.
The Opium Wars were two wars waged between the Qing dynasty and Western powers in the mid-19th century. The First Opium War, fought in 1839–1842 between the Qing and Great Britian, was triggered by the dynasty's campaign against the British merchants who sold opium to Chinese merchants. The Second Opium War was fought between the Qing and Britain and France, 1856–1860. In each war, the European forces used modern military technology to easily defeat the Qing forces, and compelled the government to grant favorable tariffs, trade concessions, and territory.
Lin Zexu, courtesy name Yuanfu, was a Chinese head of states (Viceroy), Governor General, scholar-official under Emperor of the Qing dynasty best known for his role in the First Opium War of 1839–42. He was from Fuzhou, Fujian Province. Lin's forceful opposition to the opium trade was a primary catalyst for the First Opium War. He is praised for his constant position on the "moral high ground" in his fight, but he is also blamed for a rigid approach which failed to account for the domestic and international complexities of the problem. The Daoguang Emperor endorsed the hardline policies advocated by Lin, but then blamed Lin for the resulting disastrous war.
Taiwan is a small island located off the coast of China. The Chinese and Taiwanese people have a long history together, with the first Han Chinese settlers arriving in Taiwan in the seventeenth century. The Japanese empire occupied Taiwan following its cessation from Qing dynasty China in the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895) at the conclusion of the First Sino-Japanese War. This period of occupation lasted until the Japanese surrender of WW2 During this period the colonial government of Japan initiated major policies to reduce the consumption of opium and opium derived products with much regarded success from contemporary sources both from the Japanese Colonial government and international sources.
The Kingdom of Tungning or Kingdom of Formosa was a government that ruled part of southwestern Formosa (Taiwan) between 1661 and 1683. It was founded by Koxinga as part of the loyalist movement to restore the Ming dynasty in China after it was overthrown by the Manchu-led Qing dynasty. Koxinga hoped to recapture the Chinese mainland from the Qing, using the island as a base of operations. Until its annexation by the Qing Dynasty in 1683, the Kingdom was ruled by Koxinga's heirs, the House of Koxinga.
The Canton System (1757–1842) served as a means for China to control trade with the West within its own country by focusing all trade on the southern port of Canton. Known in Chinese as the Yīkǒu tōngshāng the policy arose in 1757 as a response to a perceived political and commercial threat from abroad on the part of successive Chinese emperors.
The Old China Trade refers to the early commerce between the Qing Empire and the United States under the Canton System, spanning from shortly after the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783 to the Treaty of Wanghsia in 1844. The Old China Trade represented the beginning of relations between the United States and East Asia, including eventually U.S.–China relations. The maritime fur trade was a major aspect of the Old China Trade, as was illegal trafficking in opium, with the trade era overlapping the First Opium War waged by China against Western traders and blockade-runners between 1839-1842.
The Treaty of Wanghsia was a diplomatic agreement between Qing dynasty of China and United States, signed on July 3, 1844 in the Kun Iam Temple. Its official title name is the Treaty of peace, amity, and commerce, between the United States of America and the Chinese Empire. Following passage by the U.S. Congress, it was ratified by President John Tyler on January 17, 1845. It formally remained in effect until the 1943 Sino-American Treaty for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China.
Ma Fuxiang was a Chinese military and political leader spanning the Qing Dynasty through the early Republic of China and illustrated the power of family, the role of religious affiliations, and the interaction of Inner Asian China and the national government of China. He was a prominent Muslim warlord in northwest China. Ma Fuxiang originally served under Dong Fuxiang, like other Ma Clique Muslim warlords such as Ma Anliang.
Taiwan under Qing rule refers to the rule of the Qing dynasty over Formosa from 1683 to 1895. The Qing court sent an army led by general Shi Lang and annexed Taiwan in 1683. It was governed as Taiwan Prefecture of Fokien Province (Fujian) until the declaration of Fokien-Taiwan Province in 1887. Qing rule over Taiwan ended when Taiwan was ceded to Japan by the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895.
The Cohong, sometimes spelled kehang or gonghang, was a guild of Chinese merchants or hongs who operated the import-export monopoly in Canton during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). During the century prior to the First Opium War of 1839, trade relations between China and Europe were exclusively conducted via the Cohong, which was formalised by imperial edict in 1760 by the Qianlong Emperor. The Chinese merchants who made up the Cohong were referred to as hangshang (行商) and their foreign counterparts as yanghang.
The history of smoking dates back to as early as 5000 BC in the Americas in shamanistic rituals. With the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th century, the consumption, cultivation, and trading of tobacco quickly spread. The modernization of farming equipment and manufacturing increased the availability of cigarettes following the reconstruction era in the United States. Mass production quickly expanded the scope of consumption, which grew until the scientific controversies of the 1960s, and condemnation in the 1980s.
The destruction of opium at Humen began on 3 June 1839 and involved the destruction of 1,000 long tons of illegal opium seized from British traders under the aegis of Lin Zexu, an Imperial Commissioner of Qing China. Conducted on the banks of the Pearl River outside Humen Town, Dongguan, China, the action provided casus belli for Great Britain to declare war on Qing China. What followed is now known as the First Opium War (1839–1842), a conflict that initiated China's opening for trade with foreign nations under a series of treaties with the western powers.
The Mackay Treaty was a sixteen article treaty signed by the governments of Great Britain and the Chinese Qing dynasty on 5 September 1902. Under the terms of the treaty, the likin system of taxation was abolished and the first moves made to abolish extraterritoriality for foreign nationals.
Zeng Junchen, courtesy name Yun'an, art name Zhengran, was a Chinese businessman and opium kingpin from Sichuan. Starting off as a restaurateur and salt merchant, he then became a kingpin and amassed a fortune in some four years of dealing with opium. He was often referred to as China's "King of Opium". Zeng was also a philanthropist and donated large sums to charities and schools. He died in July 1964, aged 76, in Chongqing. Zeng's former residence in Shapingba District is now listed as a local monument.
Hoppo or Administrator of the Canton Customs(t 粵海關部,s 粤海关部,pYuèhǎi Guānbù;), was the Qing dynasty official at Guangzhou (Canton) given responsibility by the emperor for controlling shipping, collecting tariffs, and maintaining order among traders in and around the Pearl River Delta from 1685 to 1904.
Royal Saxon was a British merchant ship built at Liverpool in 1829. She carried cargo and passengers to India, Australia, and the Far East. In 1839 Royal Saxon attempted to violate a Royal Navy blockade of Canton and inadvertently became the direct cause of the Battle of Chuenpi and consequently the First Opium War. She is last listed in Lloyd's Register in 1857.
Although many of the specific techniques they used were similar to those of the Nationalists, the Communist anti-opium campaigns were carried out in the context of the successful effort to use mass campaigns to bring all aspects of local life under control, and thus the Communists were considerably more successful than were the Nationalists. Opium and drug use would not be a problem again in China until the post-Mao era.
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