The Opium Wars

Causes & Consequences

In this podcast Dr. Yangwen Zheng 鄭揚文 of the University of Manchester looks at the origins, theatre and consequences of the Opium Wars.

1. The origins of the First Opium War: Western demand for tea and other commodities from China and a growing trade imbalance.
2. China in the 18th Century: industrialisation, a growing middle class and new urban sensibilities.
3. Getting Opium into China: The East India Company and private traders.
4. The social and economic effect of Opium consumption in China and the response of the Emperor Daoguang 道光帝: the first war on drugs.
5. War and retaliation.
6. The sympathy of Charles Elliot, the arrival of Henry Pottinger and the Treaty of Nanking.
7. Consequences: 'reparations', the opening of ports, Hong Kong, The Second Opium War.
8. The Sino-Western Conflict, the century of unequal treaties, human rights and Chinese-Manchu animosity.

Suggested reading:

Zheng Yangwen, The social life of opium in China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Peter Ward Fay, The Opium War, 1840-1842 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975)

Frederic Wakeman, Jr., Strangers at the gate: social disorder in South China, 1839-1861 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966)

Michael Greenberg, British trade and the opening of China 1800-42 (Cambridge University Press, 1951)

Chang Hsin-pao, Commissioner Lin and the opium war (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964)

Next page