Neo-Imperialism’s effect on Qing Dynasty China was not profoundly great. Rather than helping China, imperialism brought about the fall of the Qing and the introduction of communism in East Asia. The Qing Dynasty was a powerful, self-sufficient dynasty that reigned from 1644-1912. During the late 19th century, Europe’s great powers began taking interest in Asia’s natural resources that are needed to fuel Europe’s industrial factories. The British interest for tea led the Europeans to trade with China. At first, trading was subtle, but when conflicts began arising, the situations escalated and a series of wars were fought out with China to resolve them.
The Qing Dynasty was able to take care of the 3 million people who lived within its borders. The people grew crops such as rice, spun silk, farmed tea roses, and make fine porcelain. The Qing Dynasty was the lone power in the Far East. That changed during the late 19th century, when imperialism spread to Asia. The great powers of Europe took interest in primarily Southeast Asia. After the colonization of Southeast Asia, the powers began taking interest in trading with China. They sailed to the trading port of Canton (present day Hong Kong) and offered manufactured goods for tea, silk, and porcelain. The Qing Dynasty accepted and trading began.
Later, the Qing refused to accept European goods and demanded bar silver as payment. As a result, The Western powers began experiencing an outflow of silver to China. The countries, especially Britain, needed to find a way to reverse the flow of silver so the trade was even. So the British resorted to opium, a drug from the sap of the opium poppy. Originally used as medicine in western countries, opium was sold to China as a recreational drug. The indigenous population became addicted and the silver began out flowing back to Britain. The Qing government, upset with the fact that their people are smoking a drug, outlawed the import of any and all opium to China. British merchants began smuggling opium into China so the British East India Company would still make the profit. The Qing, realizing that banning opium was not enough, so they began seizing merchant ships and dumping opium crates into the sea. The disposal of potential profits was enough to make the British see it as a declaration of war and so began the First Opium War. Britain won the war and China was forced to cede the island of Hong Kong to Britain, but opium was still not legalized.
The want for opium to be legalized would lead to the Second Opium War. The war erupts when Qing officials boarded a merchant ship suspected of piracy and smuggling. The British then launched another attack, thus effectively starting the Second Opium War. During the war, the British attempted to legalize the opium trade and open all of China to trade. The British won the war, but only received southern Kowloon. The Chinese were now humiliated by the two losses.
After the Opium Wars, two rebellions would arise....