opium wars

Britain needed to balance trade with China so they sold them Opium, tons and tons of the stuff! Of course people got addicted, families and communities were destroyed, but Britain kept selling it and making a fortune! Finally in 1839 the scholar and Chinese official Lin Zexu decided to enough was enough and he destroyed 2.6 million pounds of British opium in pits (one of which is shown in the picture). In retaliation Britain declared war on China and won! They then extracted huge concessions from China in the peace terms they forced on them, one of these concessions was the lease on Hong Kong. Lin Zexu was made a scapegoat by China for all the trouble his saying “no to drugs” caused. Today, however, Lin Zexu is rightly viewed as a hero of that day and Britain as the villain. Visiting the place (which is now a museum) where the story unfolded all those years ago was the only time I ever felt uncomfortable in China. Not a nice history to face. Strange how I was never taught this history in school as a child in England!

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