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China In 19th Century Essay

895 words - 4 pages

By 1800, China was a country with an system. China was not industrialized, but workers in small workshops were able to produce most of the goods the Chinese needed. Because China was practically self-sufficient, its emperors had little interest in trading with Europeans. For decades, Europeans could do business only at the port of Canton. Despite pleas from Britain and other nations, China refused to open other ports to foreigners. The Chinese regarded European goods as inferior to their own and bought few goods from the European merchants at Canton.European merchants were determined to find a product the Chinese would buy in large quantities. Eventually, the British East India Company discovered such a product - opium. Opium is a habit forming narcotic made from the poppy plant. The Chinese government tried to stop the opium trade by appealing to British royalty. When those pleas went unanswered, the quarrel over opium grew into a war.The primary motive of British imperialism in China in the nineteenth century was economic. There was a high demand for Chinese tea, silk and porcelain in the British market. However, Britain did not own sufficient silver to trade with the Qing Empire. Thus, a system of barter based on Indian opium was created to bridge this problem of payment. The subsequent increase of opium in China between 1790 and 1832 brought about a generation of addicts and social instability.China's attempt to ban the sale of opium in the port city of Canton leads to the Opium War in 1839 in which the Chinese are defeated by superior British arms and which results in the imposition of the first of many "Unequal Treaties." These treaties open other cities, "Treaty Ports" to trade (first along the coast and then throughout China), included foreign legal jurisdiction on Chinese territory in these ports, foreign control of tariffs, and Christian missionary presence.As a result, the British were given the island of Hong Kong and trading rights in the ports of Canton and Shanghai. Although British imperialism never politically took hold in mainland China, as it did in India or Africa, its cultural and political legacy is still evident today. Honk Kong remains a significant center of global finance and its government still functioned in much of the same ways as it did under British colonialism. Furthermore, the language of English and British culture highly impacted the society of Hong Kong and Southern China for over a century.By the late 1800s, China is said to be "carved up like a melon" by foreign powers competing for "spheres of influence" on Chinese soil.Basically it was the European nations dividing China into spheres of influence during the Qing Dynasty at the end of the nineteenth/beginning of the twentieth century. They were able to do this because of the...

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