Victorian England, Opium Regulations, British Empire, China


By the nineteenth century, the British Empire had extended its reach all the way around the globe. They did not come to this position easily. Extending their reach required the British to fight wars with many of the major European powers, such as France, both on the mainland and in colonies around the world. China proved to be one of the most difficult areas for the British to extend into. In China the people were resistant to diseases and possessed greater technology than the other areas of the globe. Europeans wanted access to Asia for products such as spices and silks. When the British and other Europeans finally were able to get their ships to Asia, particularly China, they encountered another problem. They had virtually nothing the Chinese wanted in exchange for their luxury goods. Silver from the New World took care of the trade deficit for a short time, but ultimately they could not keep up with the demand for Chinese products. They finally found a solution in the form of a native Asian drug. Although there were a variety of issues that arose causing parliamentary debate, the opium trade was continued throughout the Victorian Era.