Opium War or an Excuse for War
11 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 22, 2011
The first armed conflict recorded in history between Great Britain and China, usually referred to as the 'Opium War', appears to have had less to do with opium and everything to do with consequences that would have naturally occurred between any two nations engaged in trade while possessing customs diametrically opposite to one another. Theirs’ was truly a recipe for disaster. China seemed confident in her self-perception of being the Middle Kingdom. She viewed her position, relative to the rest of the world, as most favored. Ironically, this view of China was consistent with the aspirations expressed by western nations since the time of Marco Polo’s exploration to China. On the other hand, Great Britain had emerged during this period as the most potent military power in the world. Thus, any relationship developed between ethnocentric China and egocentric Britain would have proved fatal no matter what the immediate cause. This analysis will demonstrate that opium was not the primary cause but merely an excuse for war. The real impetus behind the so called 'Opium War' can only be understood by examining China’s conditioning decades and even centuries before the war. The results of this conditioning led her to provoke the British into an arms confrontation.
Keywords: Opium War, China, history, research paper, Britain, oriental
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