Why “WE ARE” the sufferers of Opium?
When we mention opium, what brings up first to Chinese is the dishonor that we suffered before. Opium makes us recall the miserable memories at that time and many people consider opium to be the root of all the miserable before. All people know that opium is a drug, but long before in the history, opium was considered as the panacea. Ancient people, like in Egypt, used them as apocatastasis or treating external trauma. Also, the poor used opium to depress the hunger that could lower the expense on food. Till the early 19th century, opium still was not viewed as a drug. In Europe, many countries put forward the law on banning alcohol, but not on opium. Some researchers even believe that the development of romanticism in Europe from late 18th century to early 19th century may have a great relationship with opium. Without opium, some masterpieces may not exist. Authors may need the stimulation of opium to help them temporarily jump out of the regular thought. With this quick look of opium in the history, we see that the time of planting and using of opium of other countries is much longer than that of China. Opium has a wider range of use in other countries, however, opium does not cause serious social problems in them. Thus, why opium has such a bad effect on modern China where with barely opium history earlier?
I think there are two basic reasons to explain this phenomenon: first is the effects of outer various factors; second is the problem of China itself. Both reasons counteract with each other, making Chinese become the biggest consuming group, making China become the greatest loser and sacrificer at that time.
To be specific, the outer factor is that China was dragged into the first real globalization when Chinese still did not know whether the earth is round or square. With the curiosity towards the unknown world in the East, with the avarice to the treasure in the East, many western explorers came to the east. They traded what they were interested in, like silk, china and tea, with spice and silver. Compared to their various interests, Chinese only interested in few things, like silver and clocks. Chinese were really fond of silver that in terms of researchers, about 1/3 of world silver flowed into China. Also, the Europeans found that Chinese had greater and greater interest in opium. Hence, the famous triangular trade appeared: the commodities in Europe exported to India and bought opium in India; they sold Indian opium to China and bought silk, china, tea from China then shipping to Europe. With large amounts of opium flowing into China and could only be paid with silver, large amounts of silver back-flew. Obviously, who gonna benefit from this is the European and who gonna suffer is the Chinese. China is the country being deprived.
For the inner reason, the reason why Chinese so fascinated with opium could be that after the 18th century, the population of China increased a lot and there was a great pressure of living. People had a decreasing sense of security, thus many people applied negative attitude toward these and having opium is one way. In addition, the incapable government is also another reason. The Qing government although wants to block the opium subjectively, they do not have that capability objectively. Lin Zexu’s ban on opium no doubts is the action of complying with the will of the public, of patriotism. However, there was such a stupid idea to another group of bureaucrats: they advocated the Chinese people grow and produce their own opium to fight against opium from the outside. Yet, this action not only did not ban opium from the outside but also further led to the opium flooding in China. Growing the opium caused less food production which left people in suffering.
The problem of opium did not completely rule out until 1960. Till 1960, this evil has eventually been wiped out from Chinese history.