Highlight the impact of opium trade in China.
The use of opium first became widespread in China during the seventeenth century. Eventually, levels of addiction increased to such an extent that the Qing Emperor Yongzheng prohibited the sale and smoking of opium. However, these measures failed to stem the problem of growing opium addiction in China. Even when the Emperor Jiaqing later banned the importation of opium, the problem still remained.
European nations found that exporting opium helped to rebalance their trade with the Chinese. There was high demand in Europe for Chinese luxury goods such as porcelain, tea, and fine silk. However, there was little corresponding demand among the Chinese for European goods. Opium filled the gap and led to Europeans, especially the British, making huge profits from the trade in drugs.
The main impact of the opium trade on China was social. Addiction was rife at all levels of society. The Chinese military and the official classes were particularly hard hit, weakening the country's administrative structure and its ability to defend itself. The long-term repercussions of this development were serious indeed. When the Chinese took firm steps to prevent the scourge of opium from plaguing their country, the British and the French went to war with them the country in the nineteenth century. In both cases, the Chinese were comprehensively defeated, and so the opium trade continued. In the long term, the opium trade and all it represented was a source of national humiliation for China, an unwelcome reminder of an economic and military failure at the hands of Western powers.
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