The Opium Wars In China are said to have been caused by a number of factors, none more so than China’s pollen of Britain. Connections between the two countries began through trading and naturally an awareness of the British people came about . However it was shown that China’s imperial government did not see Britain as a power of any significance- which seems to be related to their sense of imperialism; China believed that they ‘did not need to be interested in Britain’ , they had such faith n the power that their country held that Britain need not be heeded.
On the other hand, Britain believed in its imperial superiority and looked at the country as ‘past minded, backward China’ It is true that China showed some interest in Britain, but the interest lax. The source shows the imperial ignorance of both countries (be it deliberate or not). It sees how they were both portrayed to the other through different periods of time, and this and their sense of Imperialism will be discussed throughout to explain how far it aided In causing the first Anglo-Chinese war.
The Ganglion period stretched from 1735 until 1795, and In China at this time knowledge of the British people, It seemed, was very minimal . The two major strands of thought concerning Britain originated from; the imperial palace and the government of Ganglion or from the merchants of the south eastern coast . Obviously the merchants of the coast would have a better knowledge and more natural acceptance of the new people as Britain became China’s biggest trading partner . Through this, both cultures would exchange a real and accurate knowledge of each other, and this differed on the interpretation of the imperial palace.
Because British goods were welcomed and seen as commodities, or hangout’ , a positive connection was made between the British and their cargo which was encouraged. Unsurprisingly curiosity of the British grew and the merchant towns of the south east coast became educated In the ways of Britain . Imperial knowledge, on the other hand, was not so primary or raw, but literature made Its way Into the palace In the form of a book of a Journey of a Cantonese sailor . This information was completely new to the Chinese and spoke of life in Britain. However the palace and government still lacked essential interest in what would one ay be their rivals.
Maybe it differed from the costal merchants because they were so far removed from common interactions of the British. In any case, Britain were still believed to be of no threat. The source points out that even in the decline of the Ganglion emperor’s rule, their land mass and populace easily outsized any of that of the Western world, and especially Britain . In terms of interest, paradoxically, Britain set out upon the Macerated Mission, disguising the celebration of the emperor’s eightieth birthday with profit making and marketing Intents .
Whilst visiting during he celebration, the non-cooperation of Macerated In traditional Chinese festivals was mistaken for he and his group being unscheduled and the community peeled them . Consequently, we can see how direct communication through trading on the south people, rather than false visits to the palace and vague recollections in literature. We can see that if the Chinese had paid more attention to the encroaching British imperialists, war may have been prevented by taking steps to stop the British while they were still vulnerable enough, and by accepting that China was not completely untouchable.
Towards the end of the Ganglion period and onto the Jigging rule, tensions between the two countries began to emerge. The connotation of a ‘peaceful’ Britain began to change, but the new government still did not see the threat in the same way that the south east traders and some of the Ganglion government would feel . However after Britain tried to take Macho in the early sass , attitudes changed. And although the British were now seen as ‘barbarians’ , both the merchants of the coast and the imperial parliament failed to see a huge threat in growing Britain.
Nonetheless, there were some checks put in place to keep Britain at bay. The emperor was advised that the tea trade was essential to the livelihood and living standards of Britain, and to take away power to Britain, tea exports were restricted . Again, the imperialism of the Chinese royalty and government managed to mask Britain’s threat and nothing was set to challenge their power. The sass saw the beginning of the Duggan dynasty who, unlike their predecessors, began to see the threat of the British in both their power and their trade in opium . Opium smuggling caused a major financial and domestic strain on
China . But by now Britain’s power, both geographically and militarily, became noticed . China began to study Britain further and naturally, the preceding images proposed by the Ganglion government were upturned . Although there was progress in the study of the British, it was mainly through individuals in a minority of scholars, rather than a study that would be regarded countrywide . Again, through inaccurate sources of imperialism, it became even more assumed that the British would not survive if the tea trade did not exist and this strengthened the notion that Britain loud be easily stopped if necessary.
Furthermore, because there was no incentive to begin to understand British influence, this was the general consensus which allowed imperialism, again, to be the cause of the Opium Wars. Overall we can see that imperialism was a major effect of the first Opium War in China. It is shown that Chinese intelligence of Britain was sparse, but opinions did change over time. Imperialism was the cause of the lack of intelligence and, at some points, ignorance. China believed that there was no threat from lowly Britain, which was a major underestimation.
When Britain did manage to cause a threat in the later era of Duggan, China thought all that was to be done was restrict tea for trading, which again misjudged Britain’s power. Although progress was made in this era, the source shows us that it was limited to a select amount of people, and no incentive was proposed by the government to study tactics of Britain. Overall, vast underestimations were made of British power and overestimations of the effect of limiting tea trade (which link to China’s imperialist self-importance) and meant that Britain would easily go to war with China when the time came.