DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

OPIUM – PROFITABLE BUT DEADLY

Written by: on June 14, 2018

    

 

The early years of China although challenging and prosperous, politically it had its challenges. Its decision to return to the Communism was a surprise. “The Hong Kong identity that emerged was based on a shared outlook and a common popular culture which blended traditional Chinese culture with that imported from overseas, with the influences of the USA, Britain, and Japan being particularly noticeable. This shared outlook incorporated elements of the traditional Confucian moral code and emphasis on the family, as well as modern concepts like the rule of law,” respect for human rights, a limited government, “a free economy, a go-getting attitude and pride in the local community’s collective rejection of corruption.” (194-195)

Author Steve Tsang of The Modern History of Hong Kong takes you on a journey of the Hong Kong (a fish village) becoming a capitalist phenomenon. It was under the rule of Britain who was instrumental in its success in trade. One of its trading success was the Opium War. I have said this before in my other blogs, I am not a history buff. Reading about it just bores me. I was drawn to this section of his book because of the opium tragedy in America. So many Americans are addicted to Opium, and it has been a contribution to some deaths.

Britain’s imported from China tea and raw silk. Tea was essential to Britain because it became a daily need. Regarding the raw silk, In my blog on the Silk Roads – Which Route I wrote in my review, “’China had opened a door leading on to a trans-continental network; it was the moment of the birth of the Silk Roads.’ (20) China trading ambitions were successful, especially with the silk. Silk was known to be used as currency in trade. Silk is a smooth and shiny material that is Asian inspired.” [1]

According to the Britannica, “Opium was first introduced to China by Turkish and Arab traders in the late 6th or early 7th century CE. Opium was taken orally to relieve tension and pain, and the drug was used in limited quantities until the 17th century.” [2]  The British East India Company was the producer of the Opium and selling it in China. In fact, they were referred to as “poppies.” [3]  I remember in the Wizard of Oz they ran through a garden of poppies, inhaled and went to sleep. Okay, I digressed back to the story at hand.

“In 1907, China signed the Ten Years’ Agreement with India, whereby China agreed to forbid native cultivation and consumption of opium on the understanding that the export of Indian opium would decline in proportion and cease completely in 10 years.” (8-9) Opium was illegal to use in China, but it was able to become self-sufficient because of its ability to trade with Britain on tea and raw silk. People used opium for medical purposes and it was not considered illegal in Britain. “The Spring Purificationists and Lin picked Guangdong to start the anti-opium campaign as they realized that a countrywide one could not be implemented. The most effective way was to cut off the supply where it entered the country, so he planned to cause a temporary collapse of trade in Canton to produce a commercial panic among the British so that the latter would sacrifice the opium trade for the profits of other commerce.” (9)

Lin placed pressure on the British to release the opium. The British offered to pay for the supply rather than trade. Once Lin received the opium supply (valued at 2million pounds, he burned them in public. (10) The British and Indian drafted a treaty for peace requiring all demands be met. Qi Shan replaced Lin as special commissioner which required Qi to negotiate with the British, Charles Elliot. They reached an agreement referred to as Chuenpi Convention but was later replaced. The British possessed and ruled over Hong Kong in 1841. The British still wanted the rights to trade the opium. The Treaty of Nanking ended the First Opium War.” (12)

 

   

 

In America, it was not considered illegal, but legislation is being considered to ban its use or at least regulate it. There have been deaths related to the use or addiction to the drugs. “From 1996 to 2001, American drug giant Purdue Pharma held more than 40 nationals “pain management symposia” at picturesque locations, hosting thousands of American doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.” [4]  Purdue’s sales doubled during the years from 1996 to 2002. Over six years, prescriptions increase from 670,000 to excess over six million. It has been documented that prescription opioids in 2002, 5000 people were dying per year and had not tripled. President Donald Trump in 2018 has called it a ‘national emergency.’[5] This drug which is effective for pain has ruined many lives. It is addictive, and people are seeking it for the feel versus for its purpose.

 

[1] Lynda Gittens, DMINLGP.com | SILK ROAD – WHICH ROUTE?, Author Peter Frankopan, accessed 6/13/18,  https://blogs.georgefox.edu/dminlgp/silk-road-which-route/

[2] Encyclopedia Britannica, Opium Trade British and China History, accessed 6/13/18, https://www.britannica.com/topic/opium-trade.

[3] IBID.

[4] The Guardian, America’s opioid crisis: how prescription drugs sparked a national trauma, accessed 6/14/18, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/25/americas-opioid-crisis-how-prescription-drugs-sparked-a-national-trauma.

[5] IBID

About the Author

Lynda Gittens

7 responses to “OPIUM – PROFITABLE BUT DEADLY”

  1. Mary says:

    Thank you for highlighting a very controversial part of the history of Hong Kong, Lynda. The whole time I read Tsang’s book I wondered how the British could sleep at night making money from this drug. Yes, it had medicinal purposes, but let’s be honest. They also knew how addictive it was and therefore (like cigarette manufacturers today) could count on a steady supply of customers. I just don’t get it.
    There must have still been a huge problem with it in China (Hong Kong) as Jackie Pullinger began work in the 60’s in Hong Kong.
    Today in the US as you point out we have a real problem with it. We’ve had ‘wars on drugs’ before and the problem seems to be getting worse.
    What do you think Trump could do? Is there something the church can do?

  2. mm Katy Drage Lines says:

    I think it’s easy for us to gloss over the painful history of various nations’ involvement in drug trafficking (including the US in Latin America). Thanks for the uncomfortable reminder.

  3. Lynda,
    Thanks for focusing on that which we would rather not focus on. It isn’t fun or easy, but if we don’t do it, that’s how you get the saying: ‘those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’

  4. Kristin Hamilton says:

    Lynda, fun fact…I found out in a rather embarrassing way that a person can “pop” for opioids in a drug test if they eat too many poppy seed muffins. So embarrassing.
    Anyway, you mention the scene from the Wizard of Oz, which really is a commentary on the everyday use of opium in Frank L. Baum’s (the author) world. We like to think of opium as the drug of “the East” but it wasn’t even outlawed in the U.S. until about 1914. As you mention, we have our own deadly history with opioids and other drugs, much of which comes from the ways in which our own government has fueled or supported the drug trade in other countries. No one’s hands are clean here and people are still paying the ultimate price.

  5. mm Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

    Lynda, a great parallel between opium and prescription painkillers today. This is maddening to see this in my work with pain pills, and may I add psychotropic drugs too. It seems more people are wanting to just take a pill to dull the pain or negative emotional symptoms instead of understanding what their body is communicating to them. I wish more research went into improving physical and mental ailments instead of offering pills that often have more negative side effects than positive and line the pockets of the drug corporations. It makes me sad for our country. We can do better. Thank you for pointing this out.

  6. Jim Sabella says:

    Thanks, Lynda for an excellent post. I appreciate the way you related the opium trade to the challenge facing the United States today with the opiate epidemic. I would venture to say that virtually everyone in the USA has been affected in one way or another. I enjoyed your post.

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