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China and the Opium Trade

November 4, 2012

Poppy plant diagram

Here are three questions on China and the opium trade written by your classmate, Stephanie Tsoi. Please answer one of these questions with a response of a paragraph or more.

  • How did the cohongs affect the way China traded with European merchants? Were they a good or bad thing?
  • Why did the British East India Company turn to opium in its trade for Chinese goods? What were the long-term effects of this addicting new trade?
  • What happened when the Qing government tried to discontinue the opium trade with Europeans and to enforce strict laws banning sales?
7 Comments leave one →
  1. Shayna Wolf permalink
    November 11, 2012 11:11 pm

    When Europeans came to the trading markets in China, they found that the Chinese did not want or need their products. The Europeans did not seem satisfied with the Chinese lack on need for trade, so they turned to a different product, Opium. Opium was a very successful one, though illegal.The Qing government tried to discontinue the opium trade, but with little luck. The trade corrupted society both economically and socially. So, once again, Chinese authority tried to restrict trade, and this time they seemed to be getting somewhere. However, the British did not want the trading to come to an end, so they started a war with China called the Opium wars, and won.

  2. Norbert Fital permalink
    November 13, 2012 1:48 am

    Cohongs were a sort of Chinese merchant firm that traded with the European merchants, rather than the Europeans going directly to the ports and trading on the market. This was a bad thing for Europeans since the Cohongs and China itself had little demand for European goods. The Cohongs just restricted the importation done by the Europeans. Opium became introduced to the Chinese market (illegally) by the British and the Chinese enjoyed this product and soon had high demand for this product despite it being banned by the Qing government. This new demand and increased trade with the Europeans (mainly opium) was profitable for the British, but had great draw backs from the Chinese. Social instability was formed as many people became addicted and dependent on opium. The Qing government took action to prevent further distribution opium, which lead to the Opium wars against China. The British dominated these wars and established more power in the trade with China with the newly obtained British territory known as Hong Kong.

  3. Syed permalink
    November 23, 2012 5:10 pm

    The Qianlong emperor did not wanted the European commercial rise in china that’s why they created Cohongs. Cohongs allowed the Chinese government imposes restriction in foreign companies; it also benefited them economically since they only allowed silver bullion.
    British traders wanted to increase their profit so they used Opium. They sold opium to Chinese trader and get silver from them and with those silver they incremented their investment. When the Qing government tried to discontinue the opium trade with Europeans and to enforce strict laws banning sales it started a war and Chinese were shamefully defeated. Chinese govt. was forced to accept treaty Known as “unequal treaties”. Britain open five new ports in china and took position of Hong Kong. Afterward Opium trade became legalize in Britain’s favor.

  4. shahid khan permalink
    December 5, 2012 5:23 am

    The East India Company of England traded opium which was cheaply and easily produced in India, it was rapidly popular in china until it became an addiction. The opium addict becomes unproductive in the society and the emperor banned the opium trade. Only the trusted officially were allowed to trade with it. As a result, the British declares opium war against china.

  5. Teddy Chattah permalink
    December 16, 2012 12:33 pm

    The Europeans started off trading with China because of the demand of Chinese goods like tea and silk. Unfortunately, the attitude was not reciprocated—the Chinese did not want anything from Europe. As demand grew in Europe for Chinese goods, the British East India Company needed to come up with something to trade back with other than gold or silver. Because of its addictive nature, opium became the ultimate solution for the BEIC. Once the people got a hold of it, they were completely addicted. The Qing government tried to control it to no avail. The BEIC created elaborate schemes to smuggle in opium once it was banned and the government could do nothing about it.

  6. Richard Cabral permalink
    December 18, 2012 5:25 am

    The Cohongs were the specialized merchants that dealt with the European traders. Honestly China’s strict rules on trading in my opinion was a good thing that kept the Europeans out of most of their affairs and since they were dealt with by official types it could help avoid potential problems that could happen if they were to allow the foreigners into public areas for trade.The Chinese generally didn’t want anything from the Europeans so the trade was mostly one sided with the Europeans buying Chinese goods, it also didn’t help that they had to trade in a specific type of money to buy the goods. So they turned to the addictive substance Opium.

    When the Qing tried to stop the trade it ended up with the Opium wars. Which furthered China’s humiliation and gave the Europeans even more rights to the trades. This showed that the Europeans were not interested with leaving China to its own devices or for the amount of money that they could possibly drain from china.

  7. Xing Hui Lu (Richard) permalink
    December 19, 2012 11:16 pm

    The cohongs were the specially licensed Chinese firms that were under strict government regulations. So before the opium trade, the cohongs were the only ones that imported and exported on goods from the Europeans. So essentially it was a monopoly, but it was better than not trading at all with any countries. I would view them as a good thing because it helped China open up to more countries to do business with.

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