Victorian Great Britain was the most technologically and economically developed country in the world at the time. As such, it had the power to protect its interests. With the discovery of new trade routes in the East, and with the foundation of the East India Company, Britain became addicted to the luxurious and exotic items from China. Silk, porcelain, and tea were in high demand among the rich. Britain was so economically strong at the time that even the middle and lower classes could afford to enjoy high-quality items imported from China, especially tea.
Britain imported everything its society desired, but it was costly. The main problem was that China only accepted payments in silver, creating a huge imbalance in trade. To avoid losing money on imported goods, Britain had to sell something back to China. However, this Eastern empire liked to boast that it was self-sufficient. The Chinese didn’t need to import anything, as their industry was developed enough to supply the whole country with what it needed. Britain had to come up with something the Chinese needed, and in desperation, the decision was made for Britain to sell opium.
When diplomatic efforts to introduce opium to the Chinese market failed, the British Parliament approved an alternative: war. There were two wars, one from 1839 to 1842 and another from 1856 to 1860. They are collectively known as the Opium Wars.
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