In the 18th century China was an advanced and sophisticated culture; they had invented movable type, gunpowder, porcelain, silk and kites. Several European nations clamored for these quality goods. China however, needed nothing from the “outside” world and even refused to do any commerce.
Finally in 1793, after many attempts at establishing trade the emperor wrote a letter to King George where he stated “. . . As your Ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country's manufactures. But as the tea, silk and porcelain which the Celestial Empire produces, are absolute necessities to European nations and to yourselves, we have permitted, as a signal mark of favour, that foreign hongs [merchant firms] should be established at Canton, so that your wants might be supplied and your country thus participate in our beneficence. “
The Chinese goods were highly sought, creating a trade imbalance. European gold and silver went to China, but none returned since China purchased nothing from the western world. This was unacceptable to the British and they desperately looked for a solution.
The answer came in the form of illegal drugs, specifically opium. This substance had been used in China for medicinal purposes for eons, but never as a recreational drug. The British introduced opium in1825 and soon the Chinese became addicted.
Attempts to outlaw possession, use and trade of opium resolved nothing, quickly creating an illegal trade. After several diplomatic attempts to solve the problem the emperor ordered the destruction of a large supply of opium stored in Chinese territory.
Outraged, the British unleashed a war. China in the end was forced to agree to open more ports for trade among other concessions laying the foundation for the political world we live in today.
Opium brought a mighty, self-sufficient empire to its knees. Britain sought and succeeded undermining a once proud and whole country, creating total destruction of values and all that was considered precious and wholesome.
In our present time there is a similar challenge posed to human beings by sugar, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and genetically modified food. How can you protect yourself and your family? By making conscious choices and becoming educated about what you eat and what you do to maintain your health.
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