Opium for China: The British Connection

Gregory Blue

in Opium Regimes

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2000 | ISBN: 9780520220096
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924499 | DOI:
Opium for China: The British Connection

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This chapter outlines the economic and political considerations involved in the creation of the British opium regime in Asia. It traces opium in a “cohesive trade structure” that Britons, Indians, and Chinese created through the energetic pursuit of profitable trade, and which Britain dominated, and gained the greatest advantage from. The chapter notes that a “bifurcated framework of formal colonialism and the imperialism of free trade” characterized the British presence in Asia in the nineteenth century. It explains that through the said formal colonialism, Britain was able to impose the legalization of opium in China after 1858, and thereby secure an important financial pillar of its far-flung political empire.

Keywords: British opium regime; Asia; cohesive trade structure; China; formal colonialism; free trade; nineteenth century; opium

Chapter.  11550 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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