The Addiction of a Nation
William L. Reed
University of Phoenix
Organizational Ethics and Social Responsibility
July 05, 2010
The Addiction of a Nation
After 156 years of rule under the British Sovereignty, the Crown colony of Hong Kong and the peninsula of Kowloon were return into the hands of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China on June 30, 1997. The British has acquired a lease on the territory as a result of the Treaty of Nanking which was signed after the end of the First Opium War (1939-42) between the British and the last of the Chinese Emperors of the Qing Dynasty. What led to the war is of questionable behavior because of the infiltration of opium into ...view middle of the document...
The British learned that the Chinese smoked the opium for addictive purposes and as a recreational drug. Because there was a surplus in India, merchants began trading opium to balance out the trade deficit between the two countries.
Opium is a highly addictive drug and used to make heroin, morphine, and codeine. Opium is one of the most addictive drugs know in modern civilization and the British knew this from studies that had been conducted and with this knowledge created a new drug addiction in the Chinese population from the elite down to the servants to the emperor. The British knew that if they continued the supply of opium to the Chinese people that the taxes imposed on the addictive substance would balance the trade deficit relieving the burden on the British Crown to produce silver to pay for the tea. The British intentionally poisoned the country so that they could have their cup of tea that they had become so accustomed at a reasonable rate.
Soon the society began to deteriorate and the Emperor, in a last ditch effort, tried to ban all opium trade and closed some of the major ports so that the opium could not be brought into the country. But, because of the vast coastline of the country, smugglers were able to keep the supply coming and continue the addiction of the people. The consequences revolving around this behavior was spread throughout the society and the empire began to erode at all levels including the family structure. Many people became addicted to the drug and needed to satisfy their addiction because of the intense withdrawals that are associated with the drug. Just as today, families were torn apart because of the addictive behavior associated with drug use so were the families of China. When the structure of the family started to erode so did the empire and it is a direct result of opium supplied by British merchants. It was a devious plan that cost the country dearly.
A Chinese commissioner authored a dispatch to Queen Victoria in 1839 advising his stance against the acceptance of opium in trade as he had confiscated more than 20,000 chests of opium already in port and supervised their destruction.(Schaffer, n.d.) This missive never reached Queen Victoria and when news did arrive about the destruction of British goods the queen sent the first expedition force to defend Britainâ€™s â€œancient right in commerceâ€.(Wiltshire, [First published 1987](republished & reduced 2003), p. 1) This was the beginning of the First Opium War.