The History and Effect of the Opium Wars on China Analytical Essay

This paper discusses the history of the Opium Wars and analyzes the social, economic and political changes to the Chinese people that resulted.
# 145730 | 1,562 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2007 | CA

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This paper illustrates and concludes that the Opium Wars not only reinforced Western influence in China, but also had many long and short term effects. The writer maintains that the Opium Wars not only caused the short-term crisis of opium addiction, but also weakened the economy by further opening China to the West. The writer discusses that Chinese resistance to Western influence and the weakness of the Imperial government created mass popular movements, such as the Taiping rebellion, with the goal of bringing down the Manchu dynasty. Social structure and ideologies were also affected, as Chinese scholars and leaders learned Western ideas and technologies.

From the Paper:

"In the early 19th century, most of the world was dominated by European powers. Great Britain, in particular, had a huge hand in this power play. Having gained control of several colonies in Africa, as well as the extremely profitable colony of India, Britain was indeed an Empire. However, one country still maintained a closed-door policy towards the West. China's refusal to trade with the West ultimately led to the conflict between Great Britain and China, known as the Opium Wars. The Opium Wars resulted in many repercussions for China, most of them negative. Not only did the Opium Wars reinforce Western influence on China, but brought about many social, economic and political changes to the Chinese people.
In order to understand the Opium Wars, one must first examine the tense relationship between Britain and France prior to the start of the war. Before 1840, China was completely closed off from the world, and trade with the West was only permitted in the city of Canton. Western traders were discouraged from trading by the restrictions imposed upon them by the Chinese. To even enter Canton, ``one needed special permission, which was rarely given."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Compilation group for the "History of Modern China" Series, The Opium War. Peking, China: Foreign Language Press, 1976
  • Costin, W.C., Great Britain and China 1833-1860. Oxford, Great Britain: Oxford University Press, 1968
  • Chesneaux, Jean. Bastid, Marianne. Bergere, Marie-Claire, China from the Opium Wars to the 1911 Revolution. New York: Pantheon Press, 1976
  • Vohra, Ranbir. China's Path to Modernization: A historical review from 1800 to the present. United States: East End Publishing Services, 2000
  • Waley, Arthur, The Opium War through Chinese Eyes. London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1958

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

The History and Effect of the Opium Wars on China (2010, November 25) Retrieved March 04, 2024, from

MLA Format

"The History and Effect of the Opium Wars on China" 25 November 2010. Web. 04 March. 2024. <>