Monday, May 15, 2006

One of the many British Karmas

Interesting letter attached. It mentions how the British used the occupation of India in the 17th and 18th century to export opium to China. The writer raises an interesting question: How come the Chinese bacame addicted to opium and the Indians did not?

I have often wondered the same thing. An Indian Jew, Sir Siegfried Sassoon I believe was his name, was said to be the main force behind the export of opium from India to China. In this way the coffers of the British Treasury were filled to overflowing and Sir Sassoon got his knighthood and became a respectable member of the British high society. Up to that point the British had a huge deficit with the Chinese but the opium trade reversed the trade deficit in favour of the British.

The British imperialists have a lot to answer for to God and I guess they are most of them now down in hell.


Note: forwarded message follows hereunder:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "E.D. Litvak"
Date: Wed, 3 May 2006 11:45:57 -0700
Subject: Chinese Consul General bumping into Neighbors
Messrs. Matier & Ross,

Gentlemen - Regarding your above-referenced article published today, May 3rd in the San Francisco Chronicle regarding the addition to the home of the Chinese Consulate General and the fact of the enormous debt the United States has managed to accumulate these past few years brings to mind that this is not the first time that the West has been faced with a trade deficit with China. A similar quite serious problem was faced by Europe and the Americas between second half of the 17th Century right up to the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

The West wanted to buy Chinese goods such as porcelain, silk, lacquered furnishings and above all: TEA. Tea the desire for it, especially in England was so strong that that eminent essayist and lexicographer, the late Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) confessed that he was “a hardened and shameless tea drinker who has for many years diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool, who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnights and with tea welcomes the morning.” If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had been around then, tea and coffee would, no doubt, have been prohibited as an addictive substance and Dr. Johnson would have done time in durance vile as a drug addict, but I digress.

The question was how to pay for all that. There was nothing England, then the workshop of the world, produced that China needed or wanted, China’s attitude towards Gweilos (white, smelly, hairy barbarians) being: ‘you want tea, you pay for it with silver on the tea chest.’ Thus, ships owners and captains were faced with the specter they feared more then storms, hurricanes or tsunamis, namely ships sailing with naught but stones as ballast in the cargo holds; besides which, the West was running out of silver.

So, some genius in the British East India Company, which then owned the Indian subcontinent, hit on the simple expedient of shipping opium to China to exchange for their goods.

The Chinese government tried its level best to stop the import of ‘foreign mud,’ just like today we try to stop the import of drugs from abroad with the same results. But unlike the drug lords of today, Great Britain had an army and a navy and did not hesitate to use them twice to smash down the Chinese barriers and let the drugs go in unimpeded

(As an aside, it remains an interesting phenomenon that the Indians themselves did not succumb to that drug whereas the Chinese took to opium as avidly as the English took to gin. Why this should be so would take a doctorial candidate in anthropology to analyze racial characteristics, which, in the present odor of cultural sensitivity wafting through the Groves of Academe, would earn the researcher ostracism in the United States and a prison term in Europe.)

But what drug can we use today to pay for Chinese imports? Well, there is tobacco for which there is a huge demand in China the locals distaining the local brand of cancer sticks. In fact, according to some press reports the Chinese government has been shooting tobacco smugglers. And what about oil, which the Chinese desperately need? There are lots of oil fields around for the taking if we but had the resolution to seize them. Morally repugnant? Against international law? Condemnation by the International Community? Censure by the United Nations? So?!

E. David Litvak

San Leandro, CA


At 5:16 PM, Blogger The Oriental Express said...

I guess it is in the same way that now, in Singapore, it is a kind of accepted fact that most Chinese are inclined to gambling; Indians to drinking and Malays to drug taking!


At 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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