Welcome to the Opium War Exhibition for HIS326

Hello everyone!

This blog is going to introduce you into the Chinese and the British perspectives on the Opium War. Laws, commodities and culture, artworks, warfare technology, and literature are materials that we have used to study the topic. Each examined material provides valuable information about the the Chinese and the British’s thought and attitude on the war. Based on our research, we have come up with a main argument that follows:

The Qing perpetually viewing themselves as victims played into the arrogance displayed by the British directly involved in the conflict.

The East and the West had been very separate entities, only achieving sporadic contact via various traders until the end of the 17th century. However, the peace would not last, and for the first time in history, the Chinese army is faced with an enemy the likes of which they had never seen, the British. Two very different cultures, two ideals, and separate interests eventually led to a violent clash between giants that would last for years. The First Opium War was about much more than a simple trade dispute, instead it was the final spark to ignite a conflict in the makings for decades. While the First Opium war can be seen as an unfortunate tragedy in which a technologically superior nation abuses their power, it can also be seen as a valuable lesson. The Qing court until the Opium War always thought themselves invincible and above all other nations, seeing them as nothing more than tributaries. The Opium War forced the Chinese to view other nations as equals for the first time in history.

Enjoy our blog and happy reading! 🙂


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