Historians suggest a variety of causes for the Opium Wars. Some declare the cause to be “extraterritoriality,” the refusal of one sovereign nation, in this case, the United Kingdom, to allow their citizens to be subject to the judiciary of another, in this case, China. Others emphasize free trade and the need to bring China into the world community. The Chinese, of course, saw the cause as opium and the efforts of Westerners to force it on them. The British, whether individuals thought about it or not, had another motivation in the conflict.
It was about tea.
It certainly was, at least in part. How can that be? A little history and some economics may help explain it. The…
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