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Miscellaneous - Editor, 17 March 2008

New China Opium War and Peace



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History cannot repeat itself entirely in this case. It is about 200 years since European traders first landed in China. Missionaries followed soon after. Foreigners were as amazed then as they are now by the culture of China. There was the inevitable financial angle as well. Silk, spices, and tea were amongst the most wanted commodities from China. The dynasty then was as assertive as the Beijing government of today. Opium from other parts of Asia was introduced to China. It became an instrument of oppression. Decadence culminated in humiliating defeat. A once proud China had to open its ports to foreign trade. The latter was unbalanced, leaving little gain for China.

The shoe is now on the other foot. China is one of the most influential trading and investment powers of the world. It has a domestic market as important as in the 19th century. Metros such as Shanghai shine at night like its counterparts in the west. Expatriates from all over the world live and work in China. The ports are open for business again. China has such stores of dollars and Euros that it is an inevitable harbor for sick global corporations. The best brands of the world are made here. Yet, there is a key difference between 21st century trade with China, and the Opium Wars. Peace, co-existence, and tolerance are watchwords of those who want to continue business with new China. A new set of countries are affected by surreptitious supplies of opium, but China is not amongst them.

It helps to study the Opium Wars. People who want to trade with new China can prevent the errors of 200 years ago. The imperative to protect self-respect becomes clear. Long-term commitments to domestic constituencies foster business success. It is the new path to peace that is a hallmark of China.

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