"Opium in China"

"Opium in China" – Myth and Reality

China378_normalThe word "opium" has tremendous connotations and implications in modern China. It exemplifies the humiliation of China and its people through two so-called "Opium Wars", as well as the idea that opium was introduced to China by foreign devils interested only in enslaving the entire Chinese population by creating a nation of drug addicts.

Notwithstanding the ill intentions of the British in the Opium Wars, a large part of this view of history is, however, not strictly based on facts. In China, opium had been grown in many parts of the country hundreds of years before it was re-introduced by foreigners during the Ming dynasty. Already by the latter half of the nineteenth century, opium growing in China's interior provinces largely surpassed the amount of opium which was being imported.

Opium use in China was an indigenous addition to a long-established cultural tradition, where opium was offered to guests along with tea and snacks at almost any social gathering. And the real crisis of mass addiction was triggered not by opium itself, but rather by the anti-opium medications that followed in the wake of its prohibition in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Partly based on the thesis: "Opium and Anti-Opium Campaigns in Minority Regions of South-West China"

Talk by Simon Rom Gjeroe