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The Tragicomedy of Errors: China, British Imperialism, and the Opium Wars

  Julia Lovell, in her new book The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China, finds something funny in the tragedy

Great Britain has many reasons to feel great about itself. Its empire was the largest in history and covered over a fifth of the world’s population. It had more Asian and African colonies than any other European power. It came, it saw, it divided, and it conquered. It raped and it reaped, gleefully slaughtered millions of people, joyfully massacred entire populations, regularly caused civil wars, flattened countless cities and towns, and destroyed whole civilizations and dynasties with pleasure. It sucked the life out of its colonies and reduced them to what we now call third-world nations. It drew and redrew boundaries and created whole new countries randomly on a whim. Most of the conflicts in the world today can be traced back to British Imperialism – the Kashmir issue and India-Pakistan rivalry, the Sino-Indian border dispute and India-China rivalry, the Tibet issue, the Israel-Palestine conflict, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Sudan – the list goes on.

Yes – Great Britain had reason to feel greatly proud about itself. It had the largest empire in the world. It had managed to keep it’s European competitors in check. There was no known threat to its global dominion. It seemed that Great Britain was destined to rule the world.

And then it all came tumbling down. Sometime in the past century, the great Island Story crumbled to pieces, and the empire followed. Slowly but surely, the empire on which “the sun never sets” went out like a cigar puff. Today it finds itself with as much geopolitical influence as an American missile base. Once great, Great Britain is now America’s top bitch – a tart of a nation that can be ordered to suck America’s coattails whenever required. The relationship between the two countries is much like that between a dog and its master, or as they call it in public, a “special relationship“.

 

Your guilt is worse than my guilt

Britain is a sunny place, but acceptance of its imperialist crimes is rather chilled. For example, to this day, Britain refuses to return many of the treasures that it stole from its colonies, such as the Kohinoor diamond, which adorns the British Crown jewels. British government officials today fondly think about the good old days of imperialism. Somewhere deep inside the British consciousness, there still lurks a forced feeling of trying to justify or deflect criticism from its imperialist crimes. One of the best techniques ever devised to do so is to imply that the colonies that the British terrorized and destroyed were somehow deserving of their fate, that they brought it upon themselves – the “blame the victim” strategy.

In order to make British imperialism appear less criminal and barbarous than it really was – this white-man’s-burden-esque trick has proven to be remarkably effective, and has served to a very large extent to shift attention and criticism away from British bigotry.

Hence, Julia Lovell, author of a new book on the first Opium war, quotes the typical anecdotal Indian novelist as saying that Indians have “generally been aware that (they’ve) been responsible for (their) own problems” , thus trying to create the impression that this is the general prevalent opinion among Indians, when in reality it is no such thing. However, since India is decidedly pro-western (in terms of both its history textbooks and its foreign policy) and presents no real threat, such arguments against India are less common.

China, on the other hand, is a country that, regardless of whether it is a threat or not, has been decided to be perceived as one by the western establishment and media. The phrase “(Chinese) self-loathing” can be found throughout the book. In the typical Thomas Friedman style of judging an entire country’s opinion on the first person one meets outside the airport, she quotes a Beijing taxi driver as saying that China “had it coming”.

The basic premise of this western strategy has been to say that while the west humiliated China for a hundred years, China was already rotting from within. So what if Britain forced an illegal drug down its throat? The Economist simply calls it “free trade”.

 

The Tragicomedy in the Opium War

Here’s part of the description of the book from the back cover:

(The Opium War’s) brutality notwithstanding, the conflict was also threaded with tragicomedy: with Victorian hypocrisy, bureaucratic fumblings, military missteps, political opportunism and collaboration. Yet over the past 170 years, this strange tale of misunderstanding, incompetence and compromise has become the founding myth of modern Chinese nationalism: the start of China’s heroic struggle against a Western conspiracy to destroy the country with opium and gunboat diplomacy.

Yes – believe it or not, Lovell finds something funny in the tragedy. She actually calls the war “threaded with tragicomedy”, something that was aptly described by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing as a mixture of emotions in which “seriousness stimulates laughter, and pain pleasure”. In other words, Schadenfreude in its purest form. Of course it may be argued that a tragicomedy is simply a literary device, or even a pathway to finally accepting that “laughter is the only response left to man when he is faced with the tragic emptiness and meaninglessness of existence”. Very true, humour is indeed something that is the ultimate form of cynicism and anger towards the injustices of this world. But why stop there? Why not call every war a “tragicomedy”? After all, doesn’t every war have its share of “bureaucratic fumblings” and “military missteps”?

The usage of the term reflects the callous attitude towards the war, and British imperial crimes in general, by westerners (who never had to really face them) and by the British themselves. This indifferent attitude pervades the entire book.

It would be unthinkable for a British or western historian to use the epithet to describe, say, World War II or the Holocaust. In fact, just as a mental exercise in parallelism, the entire blurb above can be modified to produce an exact parallel describing the Holocaust, another tragic incident that Israel derives its (and its nuclear weapons’) legitimacy and justification from:

 

(The Holocaust’s) brutality notwithstanding, the conflict was also threaded with tragicomedy: with Nazi hypocrisy, bureaucratic fumblings, military missteps, political opportunism and collaboration. Yet over the past 7o years, this strange tale of misunderstanding, incompetence and compromise has become the founding myth of modern Israeli nationalism: the start of Israel’s heroic struggle against an anti-Semitic conspiracy to destroy the Jews.

 

Defending the indefensible

Officially of course, British crimes cannot be denied or justified. Hence, any discussion about such issues appears with a disclaimer or clarification quietly tucked away in a corner. As Humphrey Appleby once famously remarked – A clarification is not to make oneself clear, it is to put oneself in the clear. For example, The Economist‘s review of Lovell’s book – an article that remains one of the most imperialistic, chauvinistic, and sadistic pieces ever written about the Opium war in modern times – contains a sentence, added almost as an afterthought as if doing a favor to China in acknowledging British crimes: “Westerners have good reason to be ashamed of their treatment of China in the 19th century” which is quickly followed by a counter-statement lest the reader read too much into it: “Yet Ms Lovell contends that they administered only the final blows to an empire that was already on the brink.”

This concept should come as no surprise to regular readers of The Economist, a newspaper that quite enjoys reporting Chinese deaths in incidents that prove the government’s incompetence and “wasteful spending”, such as its satirical reaction (“Whoops”) to the deaths of 40 Chinese in the Wenzhou Train crash. This disclaimer is issued in letter and in spirit by Lovell herself in her book as well as on promotional platforms: “The British national character is portrayed very negatively in Chinese textbooks, which is right and proper. The British are ashamed of our imperial past: the racism, massacres and involvement in the slave trade.” Presumably that’s why they are still repeating it.

In her book she argues that the Opium war is the “founding episode of modern Chinese nationalism” (which is the standard term specifically reserved to describe Chinese people’s love for their country i.e. patriotism). Lovell calls the Opium war a “useful episode” in Chinese history – and repeats the much ballyhooed assertion that it is used by the CCP to justify its rule. This “Opium war button” as she calls it, can apparently be pressed by the CCP at any time to “remind the Chinese people that the West has always been full of schemes to undermine China”.

However, how exactly this curious phenomenon of a government justifying its rule by a 170-year-old war occurs is not very clear. Perhaps proponents of this theory assume that a farmer whose land has been forcibly taken away is going to forgive the government because Britain forced China to import Opium 170 years ago. This would make a good story for The Onion: CHINESE FARMER LOVES GOVERNMENT FOR LEAVING HIM HOMELESS BECAUSE BRITAIN HUMILIATED CHINA IN THE OPIUM WARS.

 

The CCP and the Chinese people: The right to rule

Many in the west often interpret the relationship between the Chinese people and their government to suit their own purposes – they fluctuate between one of these two interpretations, depending on their current argument:

1. The CCP doesn’t really care about people that it rules over and will take policy decisions regardless of what the average Chinese actually feels or desires (such as in the case of the Three Gorges Dam).

2. The CCP deliberately stirs up nationalist passions and panders to them (such as in the case of the South China Sea disputes).

Western newspapers and academics often change their colors according to the argument in question. The real justification for CCP rule that it has envisioned – and a justification that is starkly different from India’s – is hardly ever discussed. For fanatics of democracy, winning an election is all the justification a government ever needs to rule a country.

 

Two tragedies don’t make a right

Most Britishers have never heard of the Opium war. Those that have are largely limited to historians and academics. Among them, the simple reality of the Opium wars – that they were a blatant act of aggression by a European power on a defenseless Asian empire – are sidelined, and the only major aspect of the legacy of the war and the following century is just reduced to blind criticism of the CCP and its “patriotic education”. The usage of the century of humiliation by the CCP to “justify it’s own rule” is used as a smokescreen to deflect a balanced discussion about British atrocities and two-facedness. Julia Lovell, in this well-researched work that has been universally praised in the media, tries desperately to present this much-needed balanced view, and as those numerous praises would have us believe, largely succeeds.

Lovell accuses the Chinese government of imbalance: “The problem with these Chinese textbooks is not one of accuracy, per se, but of balance”, she says. “China’s education system spends far more time remembering the Opium Wars than the traumas of Communism, such as the man-made famine that killed tens of millions, and the crackdown of 1989. It offers a skewed sense of history.” (She then goes on to contradict herself, saying that China “has tampered with the historical record”.)

This is again a standard tactic among analysts, who precipitately jump to take refuge in false comparisons. To explain this phenomenon, I propose a Goodwin’s law of Chinese historical analogies, which states that, “As a discussion about Chinese history grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Mao’s policies or Tiananmen approaches one”.

Any discussion about Chinese history must necessarily mention about how Chinese textbooks ignore the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, and anything else one can think of. This tendency has now become ubiquitous, whether one is discussing the Nanjing massacre or the Opium wars, even when the two issues being compared have no relation with one another. The Opium wars have nothing to do with the “traumas of communism”, but they are still mentioned in one breath.

This tactic represents a useful tool in shifting blame towards China in international disputes. Regardless of whatever the other party does and regardless of whatever sufferings China has endured, it is inevitably and unquestionably doomed to criticism and is always in the wrong because it doesn’t tell its people about the Great Leap Forward. Any suggestion of western hegemony and genuine attempts to weaken China are sidelined by simply making the one simple statement that China and the Chinese are overly suspicious of the west since the CCP has kept the “humiliations alive” through its “patriotic education”.

 

One war, two perspectives: China and the West today

But Ms. Lovell doesn’t stop there. What could have been a unique work about an important historical event is bastardized largely by recourse to two specious tactics: selectively quoting extremist Chinese netizens’ reactions on various events to prove a point (this is readily explained by the fact that she writes regularly for The Guardian and The Economist), and by relating the Opium Wars and subsequent events to every aspect of China’s current foreign policy.

The second transgression in particular represents an acute lack of understanding of modern geopolitics. Towards the end of the book, she ventures into territory clearly outside her milieu – foreign policy and diplomacy. She desperately tries to relate recent events to China’s patriotic eduction and suspicion. She argues that “delusion and prejudice have bedevilled (China’s) relationship with the modern West.” In other words, whenever China refuses to bow down to American hegemony and obey its commands, it is not because America is indeed inherently hegemonic in nature, but because China is unduly suspicious of the west. Hence it transpires that when America and the west try to push through a skewed climate deal at Copenhagen that requires major developing nations to be treated on the same level as developed ones (as though the greenhouse gases that the west has been emitting since 1900 haven’t contributed to global warming at all), or when it hypocritically lectures China on human rights, or when it arrogantly pokes its nose in the South China Sea disputes, or when it continues to break promises and sell weapons to Taiwan in the name of a pretend promise to defend it, or when it goes about selling weapons all along China’s periphery and increases its military presence in the region to surround China from all sides – China is wrong to feel victimized and targeted – it is simply its paranoia and oversensitivity talking! How can the west do anything wrong when China treats everything the west does as suspicious? Perhaps it doesn’t know that the west has always had China’s best interests at heart.

She even finds parallels between the Copenhagen Climate Change conference and the Opium Wars. Lovell talks about that fateful day in December 2009 (an incident about which climate journalist Mark Lynas famously and publicly flipped his lid) when Wen Jiabao allegedly snubbed world leaders and “insulted Obama”. She finds Wen Jiabao’s absence from a meeting of World leaders

“…an ominous return to the style of pompous, sino-centric diplomacy that had so enraged men like William Napier and Harry Parkes in the run-up to the first and second Opium Wars, as the emperor’s officials refused to meet him in person, delegating instead the hopeless Hong merchants.”

Lovell, instead of presenting the balanced view that she purports to present, fails to tell her readers that Wen Jiabao was in fact not even informed by the conference organizers of the meeting. Moreover, the fact that India, South Africa, and Brazil also vehemently opposed the west is completely omitted. Perhaps those countries too wanted to seek revenge for their respective “humiliations”.

She also spends more than a few paragraphs gloating over the curious case of Akmal Shaikh, the British drug mule sentenced to death in China for carrying 800 times the permissible amount of drugs to China, and, like The Economist, speculates on whether the (irrelevant but useful) fact that he was caught in Xinjiang (which had recently witnessed bloody ethnic riots) might have had an effect on Chinese citizens’ reactions to the issue. She extensively quotes media reports saying that Shaikh’s family insisted that he was mentally ill, perhaps assuming that a death convict’s family would simply come out in the open and  say that he deserved to die. A medical examination was not held because there was no evidence or history of mental illness and Akmal Shaikh did not have any papers on him to prove it. A simple open and shut case (even his own lawyers admitted that the evidence against hm was overwhelming) was converted into something political by the media, and this was excellent fodder for Lovell to chew on in her interpretation of justice – that Akmal Shaikh was not given an independent medical examination and subsequently sentenced to death because of the “Opium War button”. She also fails to explain why a drug smuggler should have been given special treatment because he was British.

In all fairness however, Julia Lovell’s book is indeed more balanced than other western views about the Opium Wars in the west, and about European colonialism in general. The book represents an evolution in the study of the “useful episode” and the century that followed it – from blatant lopsidedness to a more nuanced approach. What she does not – and cannot – understand is that China thinks that “the west has always been full of schemes to undermine China” largely because the west has indeed been full of schemes to undermine China. China might be paranoid about the west, but that is only because the west gives it a lot to be paranoid about.

 

China doth protest too much?

The origin and centralization of the entire gamut of Chinese nationalism and geopolitical decisions to a single point in Chinese history is something that particularly suits the west, since it can be a useful tool for deflecting criticism from one’s own devious policies. Whenever China takes a decision that suits its own national interest, as any country would, western governments and the media can simply press their own “Opium War buttons” and claim that China is being uncooperative because of its xenophobia. In the closing paragraphs of the book, Lovell asserts,

“In 1839, the Qing court was too distracted by fears of social unrest to come up voluntarily with a pragmatic response to Western trade demands; Britain interpreted this political paralysis as inveterate xenophobia. In 2010, the situation did not look so very different…”.

Portraying China as a pressure cooker about to burst and current Chinese foreign policy as being driven by ancient history is extremely attractive since it sanctifies the west and portrays it as an angel – China’s benefactor that can do no harm. Any Chinese foreign policy decision can be attacked, and any western decision can be defended by simply hinting that China is unduly suspicious of the west due to its own xenophobia and historical bias. Perhaps the Opium War was a useful episode after all.

(cross-posted from India’s China Blog)

 

  1. perspectivehere
    July 30th, 2012 at 09:40 | #1

    Maitreya – I think you are spot on that discussions about the Opium Wars often adopt a “blame the victim” rhetoric towards China.

    I haven’t read the Lovell book yet although I’ve regrettably bought it and it sits on my shelf.

    I came across a good review of the book by Anna Chen, aka Madam Miaow, a UK-based playright and director:

    “The latest in a string of histories reviving positive images of Empire, Julia Lovell’s The Opium War is on a mission to reassess history, presumably seeking to replicate her literary stablemate Jung Chang’s success with Mao: The Untold Story.

    Lovell’s argument hangs by the revisionist thread that, far from creating a market for opium, the British were only satisfying what was already there. “What had happened,” she asks, “in those four decades [to 1840], to transform opium-smoking from an acceptable displacement activity for an idle emperor-in-training to a perilous scourge?” Not British traders — who were only exploiting an existing weakness, it seems — but the Chinese themselves who were gagging for it and therefore the authors of their own doom. The point that opium was an expensive luxury until the British were able to mass-produce it cheaply in India and transform the market, is buried in a welter of smoke and mirrors.

    Lovell sets out to correct the Chinese government’s overplayed narrative of victimhood but overbalances into a 400-page vilification of the Chinese: theirs is a response to a Western threat “supposedly” determined to contain it (“supposedly” is wide open to argument); the 150th anniversary of the first Opium War “offered a public relations gift to the government”; it is a “founding myth”, a mere “border provocation”. Opium is a “scapegoat” for the emperor’s problems, those who opposed it “ambitious moralizers” and “ambitious literati”.

    The Chinese are capable of only the basest motives in their efforts to wipe out the drug that is crippling the nation, their emotional and behavioural range running the Sax Rohmer gamut of dehumanising tropes: stupid, arrogant, cowardly, lazy and pragmatic. “Perhaps they objected for Confucian, humanitarian reasons; or then again, out of indolence, maybe.” Their avowed repulsion and fear of what opium can do is dismissed, individual suffering skated over and characters never humanised. I’m not sure I detected any irony in her use of that old colonialist favourite, “wily”, and the drooling pages of lurid descriptions in the Yellow Peril chapter might have made room for the moving contemporary accounts of the destruction of the Summer Palace, for example, or the massacres of the Chinese which shocked even hardened British soldiers.

    In contrast, although some of the inescapable truths about the British drug-dealers and perpetrators of war are acknowledged, their actions are ascribed to human feelings; they are “generous”; their inner lives are explored; their flaws are treated with understanding for they are men on a quest to better themselves against a monstrous Empire that will not give them what they want.

    When the moral high ground runs out, equivalence is strained: it was “mutual incomprehension that pushed both sides towards war”. “Contemporary China’s line on opium transforms it into a moral poison forced on helpless Chinese innocents by wicked aliens. The reality was more troublingly collusive.” Both were as bad as each other. When everyone is guilty, no one can be innocent.

    The book’s selectivity is irritating, ultimately undermining the story. The British who grew industrial levels of opium and sent the price plummeting, are “diligent”, their supply benignly “reliable”. James Matheson is described kindly as a “tough Scot” and “living under the influence of the holy spirit”, but whose banishment to the wilds of Canada of 500 residents of the Isle of Lewis — which he bought and decorated with Stornoway Castle on his drug money — is overlooked in this hefty tome. Of Charles Elliot, Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China, one of the architects of the first Opium War and later first administrator of Hong Kong, she writes sympathetically that he ” … instinctively disliked the opium trade and everything bound up with it: both its moral dubiousness and its ungentlemanly profit-hungry merchants”. Sentimentally, “his weakness was to see a little of everyone’s side: he understood the economic imperative of the opium trade, even while he hated the vulgarity of its perpetrators; he understood that his duty was to protect the British flag in Canton, even while he detested what some of Britannia’s children were doing in the China seas.”

    …..

    Reading her account is a bit like hearing a rapist declaring his innocence because his victim wore a short skirt as she walked up a dark alley. Not only were there an estimated 120 million addicts in China at the trade’s peak, but national treasures were looted or destroyed, and massacres and rape perpetrated by the invading troops intent on forcing the drug on the nation. So bad was this savagery that large swathes of British public opinion clamoured against the opium-driven conflict, led by the voices of such as Richard Cobden, William Gladstone and the Chartists. But Chinese outrage is ridiculed, with no room for the possibility that they might authentically feel empathy and concern or be justified in their anger. While paying lip service to some acceptance that a crime had been committed, Lovell offsets the gravity of the injury with a running national character assassination and a downplaying of facts already known and documented.

    It’s difficult to relax into the rollicking story that’s fighting to get out as you are constantly poked in the ear with the author’s “they made us do it” mantra. Lovell is much stronger when she tells the story straight and without pro-imperialist spin, but it is largely marred by an unfortunate sneering tone which plays to a gallery of prejudice and jingoism, a Great Wall that will keep out any reader whose bigotry is not being fed. This is a shame because she has done a formidable job by laying out the story in so much riveting detail.

    However, far from presenting a brave new take on the history, this is an old dish reheated, a rebranding of Empire (do we still call it the Indian “Mutiny”?). Lovell replays the excuses made in Britain at the time by the narco-capitalists and Lord Palmerston, who tried to win over a public opinion revolted by the idea of a narcotics war by playing the insult to the flag by the Chinese and the “liberating values of Free Trade” cards. To this she adds a steady poisonous drip of various distancing devices and systematic “othering” of the Chinese.”

  2. Zack
    July 30th, 2012 at 14:57 | #2

    expect the British Establishment’s insecurity to grow ever more louder as they inch closer and closer towards irrelevance. By way of illustration, the british still haven’t even won their first gold medal yet! and they have the home team advantage!

  3. July 31st, 2012 at 10:53 | #3

    The reason country like UK does not need a state propaganda department is because they already have authors like Lovell doing all the white washing for the British empire. To top it off they also have BBC.

  4. July 31st, 2012 at 10:53 | #4

    @perspectivehere

    Yes I also read that review and Anna Chen is one of the few of the book’s reviewers who actually read the book for what it is. And I also see that she has made many of the same points that I make in my review as well.

    The book has been universally praised in the western press. And this itself tells us a lot about the level of misconception and xenophobia that exists about China in the west. However, I am yet to read a review of the book from an established historian. I wonder why they’ve stayed away from it. Perhaps they think that the book is more in the line of sensationalism than actual history.

    In fact, I don’t think that it is far-fetched to conclude the Julia Lovell either hates China or is jealous of it. However, these feelings are latent and Freudian, as in the case of most such historians. They’ll deny it when asked of course, however, at an inner, subconscious, Freudian level (which remains latent), they hate China to their core and are extremely frustrated that China has started challenging the west’s hegemonic policies again. What they want is for China to abide by the west in every way (or, “come up with a pragmatic response to western demands” as she puts it). I’m in fact planning to write an article on this very topic.

    She ridicules Chinese responses to western demands and attributes them to nothing more than history and the Opium War.
    If this is not her true hatred of the Chinese speaking, I don’t know what is. It’s either hatred or indifference, and I wouldn’t be surprised it it were indeed the former.

    In fact, Julia Lovell is not unlike – if not exactly similar – to those western “analysts” or journalists of the Daily Mail or The Guardian who are of the firm opinion that the Chinese are not human beings or the “cruelest race in the world”, as one headline put it. She makes fun of not only the CCP, but the Chinese people themselves. She portrays them as extremely vulnerable to brainwashing with no minds of their own and no backbone, and never misses an opportunity to ridicule them. In fact, there is a very interesting passage in the book about a conversation she had with a young Chinese. She goes up to him, and announces that she is British. So the Chinese man makes some general remark (“I hear Britain is very developed” etc.) at which she is surprised, as that was not the answer she was expecting. She repeats, with emphasis, that she is British, and then says “Don’t you want me to apologize?”

    @Zack

    haha yeah very true. But remember, Chinese athletes aren’t capable of being talented. If they win something, it is because of one of more of these reasons ONLY:

    being underage
    factory-type training
    forced training
    athletes being made to sacrifice their childhood for the sport
    training even while nursing an injury
    surgery
    separating themselves from the official Chinese state apparatus (such as in the case of Li Na)

    and the winner is…

    DOPING!

    Yes – if a Chinese athlete wins, it simply has to be one of these reasons. How dare anyone suggest that a Chinese athlete won because he or she was talented?

  5. July 31st, 2012 at 11:04 | #5

    @Ray
    Very true. In many cases, they don’t censor because they don’t need to. The media will either censor the story itself or bury it in one of the inner pages.

  6. July 31st, 2012 at 11:35 | #6

    @Maitreya
    You have written a really good review of the book. In my opinion, it is a pre-emptive strike on the part of many British authors, Lovell is not the first author who tried to white washed that event. The following writing will give you insight to some of these authors, in many ways it is both guilt and fear.

    http://www.historytoday.com/robert-bickers/chinas-age-fragility

    However, as Lovell personal experience has shown, the average Chinese have no hatred for the Britain both as a people or culture. The constant reminder of the Opium war in history is the same as why Holocaust is taught. It is to remind the Chinese people to be diligent. In fact, if these so-called China experts are truly worth their salt, they should know that in Chinese history, the tragedy is always remembered. Chinese historians rarely laid accolades on great emperors or conquerors.

    The Chinese culture celebrate tragic heroes, one can almost say that they are the dead patriot society. From the dragon boat festival, which remember Qu Yuan who committed suicide, to Guan Yu, Wen Tian Xiang, Yue Fei etc. These guys are the ones that have temples and statues all over China, not the emperors.

  7. no-name
    July 31st, 2012 at 19:07 | #7

    GB (the British) devil nation committed three top notable crimes in the 19th century. One was becoming the world’s first ever mass drug traffickers. I believe that it was William Gladstone who vainly admonished his countrymen, saying that ‘we call ourselves Christians yet we force opium on ..’ Second was the forced transmigration of vast numbers of disparate people (by various British administrators) to other lands which resulted in many bloody conflicts that are still unresolved today. Third was the often arbitrary and illogical drawing of boundaries and borders resulting in wars and mindless bloodlettings that have continued to the present day (like in southern Thailand where over the common border support is high for the violent secessionist bombers).

  8. July 31st, 2012 at 19:15 | #8

    If anything that is true about the Internet is that it has opened up more of the ugliness that is prevalent in the West towards the Chinese. I want to weigh in a bit on Britain’s and America’s propaganda machinery. In a recent article by Asia Society on the 15th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong, it had opinions from 3 Westerners: Winston Lord, Orville Schell, and Jeffrey Wasserstrom. (see http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2012/06/an-irony-for-asia-society/)

    NONE of them mentioned about the Opium Wars. Despite Asia Society’s supposed efforts to provide Western public understanding of Asia, in a crucial moment like this, it continues to be revisionist and propagandizes the British sin away.

    These three narratives turned Hong Kong into an issue about alleged China’s suppression of press freedom. What incredible irony! For the Chinese who happened to have read that article, the propaganda is striking.

    1. What about balance? Why don’t they consult a Chinese national who offers at least 1 voice? What kind of press freedom was Asia Society thinking?

    2. Asia Society, and as the case with Lovell’s book which Maitreya insightfully analyzed – all are part of this massive propaganda machinery that is designed to denigrate others and washes away British wrong doings.

    Is there a conspiracy theory behind all that propaganda? Maybe or maybe not. We look at the results. What is plainly clear is the propaganda and revisionism.

    Rather the British and American press narrative of the Internet ‘liberating’ the Chinese, it is the Internet making it increasingly possible for the ordinary Chinese to see what this propaganda machinery is all about.

  9. Zack
    August 1st, 2012 at 09:13 | #9

    @Maitreya
    It’s not just Olympics; you’ll see anglo cries of ‘cheating’ etc when it comes to finance, economics, business, politics, military etc eg accusing the Chinese military of stealing US stealth tech, accusing the Chinese of manipulating their currency, accusing the Chinese of copying, stealing western tech etc etc

    What it all boils down to is that anglos cannot accept the Chinese (or any other race) as being equal or even capable of besting the superior anglo in all these fields. Now of course the average anglo will deny it because they don’t think of it consciously or don’t like to think of themselves as racist, rather, they’re conditioned to believe these things or arrive at these assumptions/prejudices based on nothing other than what their propaganda chiefs have told them.

  10. September 27th, 2012 at 01:29 | #10

    Excellent review and summary. Can’t help myself adding one to the long list of trite deprecation employed by the Anglo-American empire mouthpieces: All journalistic sources from China are from “Government mouthpiece blah blah blah” as if the BBC and Economist were not obvious mouthpieces themselves. But I’m beginning to ignore these desperate tactics (rather than getting irritated by them). Their rapidly waning influence speaks for itself. Why waste energy on something that is fast becoming irrelevant? Why bothering arguing with a dying man? I’m more annoyed by the fact that Hong Kong media is worse then them in every respect, alas.

    What’s wrong with remembering the Opium War? Remembering the humiliation and past mistakes would help China to move forward positively, and more aware of what the Anglo-Americans are truly like, that’s what’s wrong with it in the eyes of Empire Vampires.

    I’m trying to get out of using the term “West” because, like “the International Community”, it’s just a term used by the Anglo-American mouthpieces to create the impression of a huge international “coalition of the willing.” In reality, many “Western” countries in Europe don’t think like these empire dreamers. Unless, when Americans talk about “Western Values”, they are referring to China to their west; but I doubt the average American has enough geography to notice that.

    One fatalistic, perhaps philosophical observation though: The British Empire, made “great” through devious exploits, ruthless colonisation, and crafty justifications (such as Lovell’s), in the end crumbled into nothing more than a few contrived words in fictionalised non-fictions. The American empire dream, though cunningly invisible and structurally amorphous, will end up the same, with probably more dramatic nightmares before dawn. As an interesting contrast, China reached this boundary through a a number of historical defeats by then “barbarian tribes”, and subsequent cultural assimilation. Perhaps it shows us that short-term achievements through duplicity and brute force are not very tenable?

  11. albinosprouts
    October 12th, 2012 at 01:38 | #11

    These are the last dying protests of the British empire. They know history is about to be rewritten.

  12. vvooiitt
    February 17th, 2013 at 01:10 | #12

    The true mastermind behind the drugging of China and consequent fall of China into foreign powers lie with international jewry forces operating through a jew named David Sassoon. Here is an excerpt:

    When the 99 year British lease on Hong Kong’s New Territories expired, the Crown of the City of London’s Colony was ceded to China. Of hundreds of newspaper stories and TV reports that covered this event, not one revealed how England first gained control of Hong Kong! The truth lies buried in the family line of David Sassoon, “The Rothschilds of The Far East,” and their monopoly over the opium trade. Britain won Hong Kong by launching the opium Wars to give the Sassoons exclusive rights to drug an entire nation!

    David Sassoon was born in Baghdad, Iran in 1792, son of Saleh Sassoon, a wealthy banker and the treasurer to Ahmet Pasha, governor of Baghdad (making him the “court Jew” — a highly influential position). When Ahmet was overthrown for corruption in 1829, the Sassoons fled to Bombay, India, the strategic trade route to India and gateway to the Far East. Soon the British government granted Sassoon “monopoly rights” to the manufacture of cotton goods, silk and most importantly, Opium — at that time the most addictive drug in the world! The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1905, states that Sassoon expanded his opium trade into China and Japan. He placed his eight sons in charge of the major opium exchanges in China. According to the 1944 Jewish Encyclopedia: “He employed only Jews in his business, and wherever he sent them he built synagogues and schools for them. He imported whole families of fellow Jews . . . and put them to work.”

    Sassoon’s sons were busy pushing this mind-destroying drug in Canton, China. Between 1830 and 1831 they trafficked 18,956 chests of opium, earning millions of dollars. Part of the profits went to Queen Victoria and the British government. In the year 1836 the trade increased to over 30,000 chests and drug addiction became endemic in coastal cities.

    In 1839, the Manchu Emperor ordered it stopped and named Commissioner of Canton, Lin Tse-hsu, to lead a campaign against opium. Lin seized 2,000 chests of Sassoon opium and threw it into the river. An outraged David Sassoon demanded that Great Britain retaliate. Thus, the Opium Wars began with the British Army fighting as mercenaries of the Sassoons. They attacked cities and blockaded ports. The Chinese Army, decimated by 10 years of rampant opium addiction, proved no match for the British Army. The war ended in 1839 with the signing of “The Treaty of Nanking.” This included provisions especially designed to guarantee the Sassoons the right to enslave an entire population with opium. The “peace treaty” included the following provisions:-

    Full legalization of the opium trade in China,
    Compensation from [for] the opium stockpiles confiscated by Lin of 2 million pounds,
    Territorial sovereignty for the British Crown over two hundred offshore islands.

    Sassoon’s use the British Army to Drug an entire Nation

    British Prime Minister Palmerston wrote Crown Commissiner Captain Charles Elliot that the treaty didn’t go far enough. He said it should have been rejected out of hand because: “After all, our naval power is so strong that we can tell the Emperor what we mean to hold rather than what he would cede. We must demand the admission of opium into interior China as an article of lawful commerce and increase the indemnity payments and British access to several additional Chinese ports.” Thus, China not only had to reimburse Sassoon the value of his dumped opium but to pay England the sum of 21 million pounds for the cost of the war!

    This gave the Sassoon’s monopoly rights to distribute opium in port cities. However, even did not satisfy him and Sassoon demanded the right to sell opium throughout the nation. The Manchus resisted and the British Army again attacked in the “Second Opium War fought 1858 – 1860. Palmerston declared that all of interior China must be open for uninterrupted opium traffic. The British suffered a defeat at the Taku Forts in June 1859, when sailors, ordered to seize the forts, were run aground in the mud-choked harbor and several hundred killed or captured. An enraged Palmerston said: “We shall teach such a lesson to these perfidious hordes that the name of Europe will hereeafter be a passport of fear.”

    In October, the British besieged Peking. When the city fell, British commander Lord Elgin, ordered the temples in the city sacked and burned to the ground as a show of comtempt. In the new “Peace Treaty” of Oct.25, 1860, the British were assigned rights to a vastly expanded opium trade covering seven-eights of China, which brought in over 20 million pounds in 1864 alone. In that year, the Sassoons imported 58,681 chests of opium and by 1880 it skyrocketed to 105,508 chests, making the Sassoons the richest Jews in the world. England was given the Hong Kong peninsula as a colony and large sections of Amoy, Canton, Foochow, Ningpo and Shanghai. The Sassoons were now licensing opium dens in each British occupied area with large fees being collected by their Jewish agents. Sassoon would not allow any other race to engage in “the Jews’ business.”

    The full article is here: http://wakeupfromyourslumber.com/node/8984

    The whole world is now under the tyrannical control of jewish international cabal. So-called New World Order = Jew World Order! We, Humans, have one common true enemy through the ages: jews. Learn much more of this parasitic creatures at http://www.subvertednation.net/

  13. vvooiitt
    February 17th, 2013 at 01:13 | #13

    The true mastermind behind the drugging of China and consequent fall of China into foreign powers lie with international jewry forces operating through a jew named David Sassoon. Here is an excerpt:

    When the 99 year British lease on Hong Kong’s New Territories expired, the Crown of the City of London’s Colony was ceded to China. Of hundreds of newspaper stories and TV reports that covered this event, not one revealed how England first gained control of Hong Kong! The truth lies buried in the family line of David Sassoon, “The Rothschilds of The Far East,” and their monopoly over the opium trade. Britain won Hong Kong by launching the opium Wars to give the Sassoons exclusive rights to drug an entire nation!

    David Sassoon was born in Baghdad, Iran in 1792, son of Saleh Sassoon, a wealthy banker and the treasurer to Ahmet Pasha, governor of Baghdad (making him the “court Jew” — a highly influential position). When Ahmet was overthrown for corruption in 1829, the Sassoons fled to Bombay, India, the strategic trade route to India and gateway to the Far East. Soon the British government granted Sassoon “monopoly rights” to the manufacture of cotton goods, silk and most importantly, Opium — at that time the most addictive drug in the world! The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1905, states that Sassoon expanded his opium trade into China and Japan. He placed his eight sons in charge of the major opium exchanges in China. According to the 1944 Jewish Encyclopedia: “He employed only Jews in his business, and wherever he sent them he built synagogues and schools for them. He imported whole families of fellow Jews . . . and put them to work.”

    Sassoon’s sons were busy pushing this mind-destroying drug in Canton, China. Between 1830 and 1831 they trafficked 18,956 chests of opium, earning millions of dollars. Part of the profits went to Queen Victoria and the British government. In the year 1836 the trade increased to over 30,000 chests and drug addiction became endemic in coastal cities.

    In 1839, the Manchu Emperor ordered it stopped and named Commissioner of Canton, Lin Tse-hsu, to lead a campaign against opium. Lin seized 2,000 chests of Sassoon opium and threw it into the river. An outraged David Sassoon demanded that Great Britain retaliate. Thus, the Opium Wars began with the British Army fighting as mercenaries of the Sassoons. They attacked cities and blockaded ports. The Chinese Army, decimated by 10 years of rampant opium addiction, proved no match for the British Army. The war ended in 1839 with the signing of “The Treaty of Nanking.” This included provisions especially designed to guarantee the Sassoons the right to enslave an entire population with opium. The “peace treaty” included the following provisions:-

    Full legalization of the opium trade in China,
    Compensation from [for] the opium stockpiles confiscated by Lin of 2 million pounds,
    Territorial sovereignty for the British Crown over two hundred offshore islands.

    Sassoon’s use the British Army to Drug an entire Nation

    British Prime Minister Palmerston wrote Crown Commissiner Captain Charles Elliot that the treaty didn’t go far enough. He said it should have been rejected out of hand because: “After all, our naval power is so strong that we can tell the Emperor what we mean to hold rather than what he would cede. We must demand the admission of opium into interior China as an article of lawful commerce and increase the indemnity payments and British access to several additional Chinese ports.” Thus, China not only had to reimburse Sassoon the value of his dumped opium but to pay England the sum of 21 million pounds for the cost of the war!

    This gave the Sassoon’s monopoly rights to distribute opium in port cities. However, even did not satisfy him and Sassoon demanded the right to sell opium throughout the nation. The Manchus resisted and the British Army again attacked in the “Second Opium War fought 1858 – 1860. Palmerston declared that all of interior China must be open for uninterrupted opium traffic. The British suffered a defeat at the Taku Forts in June 1859, when sailors, ordered to seize the forts, were run aground in the mud-choked harbor and several hundred killed or captured. An enraged Palmerston said: “We shall teach such a lesson to these perfidious hordes that the name of Europe will hereeafter be a passport of fear.”

    In October, the British besieged Peking. When the city fell, British commander Lord Elgin, ordered the temples in the city sacked and burned to the ground as a show of comtempt. In the new “Peace Treaty” of Oct.25, 1860, the British were assigned rights to a vastly expanded opium trade covering seven-eights of China, which brought in over 20 million pounds in 1864 alone. In that year, the Sassoons imported 58,681 chests of opium and by 1880 it skyrocketed to 105,508 chests, making the Sassoons the richest Jews in the world. England was given the Hong Kong peninsula as a colony and large sections of Amoy, Canton, Foochow, Ningpo and Shanghai. The Sassoons were now licensing opium dens in each British occupied area with large fees being collected by their Jewish agents. Sassoon would not allow any other race to engage in “the Jews’ business.”

    The full article is here: http://wakeupfromyourslumber.com/node/8984

    The whole world is now under the tyrannical control of jewish international cabal. So called New World Order = Jew World Order! We, Humans, have one common true enemy through the ages: jews. Learn much more of this parasitic creatures at http://www.subvertednation.net/

  14. perspectivehere
    February 17th, 2013 at 11:17 | #14

    @vvooiitt

    I’m unconvinced that it is either accurate or useful to characterize Jews as the “true mastermind” behind Opium in China when what we’re looking at are actions of parts of the British Empire involving some individuals and families who happened to be Jewish. After all, there were far more Christian individuals of the British Empire involved in the colonialization of China than Jews, who were always a marginalized minority, although it is true that some Jewish families did have extraordinary political or economic power and resources during this time. There were also powerful Parsee traders involved in the opium trade.

    The works of Indian writer Amitav Ghosh have served to elucidate somewhat less well known dimensions of the opium trade, particularly its scale and effects upon India.

    In the below interview with Ghosh he has some interesting things to say about opium, the British Empire, India, and China.

    http://usslave.blogspot.hk/2012/02/east-india-opium-trade.html

    “From BBC News on 23 June 2008, ‘Opium financed British rule in India,’ Leading Indian writer Amitav Ghosh’s critically acclaimed new novel Sea of Poppies is set during a time when opium trade out of India was flourishing during British rule.

    The novel spans three continents and close to two centuries and is the first in a planned historical trilogy set in the 19th century.

    Ghosh, a trained anthropologist and historian with a doctorate from Oxford University, spoke to the BBC’s Soutik Biswas on the colonial opium trade.

    Sea of Poppies is a historical novel. Is it the fact that the British were the world’s biggest opium suppliers two centuries ago that led you into this story?

    Ghosh: I should correct you. It was not two centuries ago. Under the British Raj, an enormous amount of opium was being exported out of India until the 1920s.

    And no, the opium story was not really the trigger for the novel. What basically interested me when I started this book were the lives of the Indian indentured workers, especially those who left India from the Bihar region.

    “ Before the British came, India was one of the world’s great economies. For 200 years India dwindled and dwindled into almost nothing ”

    But once I started researching into it, it was kind of inescapable – all the roads led back to opium. The indentured emigration [out of India] really started in the 1830s and that was [around the time of] the peak of the opium traffic. That decade culminated in the opium wars against China.

    Also all the indentured workers at that time came from all the opium growing regions in the Benares and Ghazipur areas. So there was such an overlap there was no escaping opium.

    When and how did you end up researching and learning more about the British opium trade out of India?

    Ghosh: I was looking into it as I began writing the book about five years ago. Like most Indians, I had very little idea about opium.

    I had no idea that India was the largest opium exporter for centuries. I had no idea that opium was essentially the commodity which financed the British Raj in India.

    It is not a coincidence that 20 years after the opium trade stopped, the Raj more or less packed up its bags and left. India was not a paying proposition any longer.

    What did you discover in the course of your research? How big was the trade?

    Ghosh: Opium steadily accounted for about 17-20% of Indian revenues. If you think in those terms, [the fact that] one single commodity accounted for such an enormous part of your economy is unbelievable, extraordinary.

    In fact the revenues don’t account for entire profits generated [out of opium trade] -there was shipping, there were so many ancillary industries around opium.

    How and when did opium exports out of India to China begin?

    Ghosh: The idea of exporting opium to China started with Warren Hastings (the first governor general of British India) in 1780.

    The situation was eerily similar to [what is happening] today. There was a huge balance of payments problem in relation to China. China was exporting enormous amounts, but wasn’t interested in importing any European goods. That was when Hastings came up with idea that the only way of balancing trade was to export opium to China.

    In the 1780s he sent the first shipment of opium to China. It was a small shipment and they could hardly get rid of it. There wasn’t much demand. [But], within 10 years, demand for opium increased by factors of magnitude. It was incredible – within a period of 10-30 years how much the opium trade spread and increased.

    In the period that Hastings started exporting opium in the 1780s until about 1809-1810, most of the opium in India was grown in the Bengal presidency (in eastern India).

    After that the Malwa region in western India began growing opium. Finally twice as much opium was growing in western India and there was a huge export from that region. What do you think the major princely states lived off?

    (…)

    With so much poppy being grown, didn’t local people get addicted to it?

    Ghosh: It happened. One of the curious things I was not aware of was that there are many different ways of consuming opium. One of the ways was to eat it in a bowl. This was somehow the commonest way of taking opium in India – either eating it or dissolving it in water.

    East of India and eastwards through China there was a different way of consuming it which was by smoking it. That was very much more addictive.

    It was not traditionally the case that people smoked opium in India. Opium also was a part of social life – it was offered during certain ceremonies. So it was a very complex picture.

    If there was any direct damage to India, it lay in the disruption of the agricultural timetable. But the damage that was done to China was incalculable.

    Both Indian and British history appear to have glossed over this part of colonial rule.

    Ghosh: Absolutely. Opium was the fundamental undergirding of our economy for centuries. It is strange that [even] for someone like me who studied history and knew a fair amount about Indian history, I was completely unaware of it.

    Why do you think that happened?

    Ghosh: I think the reason is some sort of whitewashing of the past.

    On the Indian side, there is a sort of shame, I suppose. Also, just a general unawareness. I mean how many people are aware that the Ghazipur opium factory [in India] continues to be one of the single largest opium producers in the world? It is without a doubt the largest legitimate opium factory in the world.

    Don’t you find it ironic that the tables have turned in a sense with Afghanistan becoming the world’s biggest opium producer with most of it sold in the affluent West?

    Ghosh: It is strange. But it’s an irony in which no one can take any comfort. Opium is a destructive thing for anyone, anywhere.

    And it remains a potent driver of economies, at least in a place like Afghanistan..

    Ghosh: And, before that in Burma.

    Sea of Poppies appears to be a scathing critique of British colonialism. Do you think colonialism has had a pretty easy ride in India and there is not enough examination of the extent of how it affected the country adversely?

    Ghosh: It’s such an ironic thing. Before the British came, India was one of the world’s great economies. For 200 years India dwindled and dwindled into almost nothing. Fifty years after they left we have finally begun to reclaim our place in the world.

    All the empirical facts show you that British rule was a disaster for India. Before the British came 25% of the world trade originated in India. By the time they left it was less than 1%.

    Lot of Indians believe that the British built institutions, the police, bureaucracy.

    Ghosh: I don’t know what people think about when they say such things.

    When they talk about [the British building] modern institutions it amazes me.

    Was there no police force in India before the British came? Of course there was. There were darogas (policemen), there were chowkis (police stations). In fact the British took the word chowki and put it into English. So to say such things is absurd.
    (source: BBC)”

  15. February 18th, 2013 at 01:37 | #15

    Talking about tragicomedy, I’m currently going through a somewhat surreal exchange with a small publisher over the Opium Wars and Hong Kong’s colonial days. They have shown interest in my novel Man’s Last Song. In the opening chapter, I set the scene by linking the Peak Path to its colonial beginning. To my surprise, the publisher (owned and run by an old English couple living in Hong Kong, represented by the wife) has tenaciously requested deletion or substantial changes to my brief and light-hearted portrayal of early colonial Hong Kong. The exercise has been exhausting, even incredible, but also revealing. I never would have expected this kind of pressure to whitewash an incontrovertible episode, in a little story by an unknown author!

    After my stubborn defence of a passing reference to the Peak Preservation Ordinance (which excluded Chinese from the Peak unless they were servants or Madame Chiang Kai Shek or Sir Ho Tung), we sidetracked into a lengthy deliberation of Lord Elgin’s pyromanic destruction of the Summer Palace. She hinted that Elgin was retaliating against the “abuse” of twenty or so POWs. (How do you differentiate soldiers who invaded another country to push opium from pirates by the way?) In return, I questioned whether the same logic would be acceptable if modern “terrorists” burned down the British Museum and Windsor Tower to revenge the thousands of Iraqis tortured.

    Subsequently, we have invested a few thousand words to debate whether I should keep TWO — “with titles” — in an anecdotal passage which went like this originally:

    “Above the 788-feet contour was the Hill District, exclusively for the felicitous domicile of colonial functionaries until 1930: Opium tycoons with noble titles; bankers; cops; drug lords; missionaries; compradores; magistrates. All respectable neighbours; fellow expatriates privileged by law under the Extraterritorial Rights. The spirit of the Rule of Law was only beginning to be introduced to the natives.”

    I agree that “opium tycoons” and “drug lords” were redundant in this draft. After a disproportionate amount of deliberation, it was watered down to:

    “Above the 788-feet contour was the Hill District, exclusively for the felicitous domicile of the privileged from 1904 [the insertion of 1904 is incorrect because the Peak had been an exclusive area since the 1860s, and still is. But never mind . . .] until 1930: Opium drug lords with titles; bankers; policemen; missionaries; compradores; magistrates. All respectable neighbours; fellow expatriates privileged by law.

    The reference to EXTRATERRITORIAL RIGHTS disappeared under her adamant objection and, as a further compromise, I also dropped the word “noble”. Unbelievably, this is not the end of it. She is insisting on deleting the two words “with titles”, unless I can “support it with names of specific opium merchants who had titles, and resided on the Peak”! Treated in this ludicrous manner, novels would not exist.

    Anyway, I patiently repeated my earlier explanations: Opium was NOT illegal in Hong Kong back then, you see, for obvious reasons. The opium trade was not the business activities of a few merchants, but a national effort, supported by the Empire’s mighty navy. All the colonial masters in Hong Kong, including of course His Excellency the Governor who had a holiday home at the Peak, was in practice part of the cartel. They assisted in devising strategy, collecting intelligence, and planning military campaigns to protect the trade which was initially monopolised by the East Indian Company. These noble gentlemen were therefore more than qualified for the description “drug lords with titles”. I suggested “HMS Drug Lords” as an alternative, if the reference to “titles” causes her undue distress. I have not received a response yet.

    It’s been an eye-opening experience which gave me a closeup feel of Maitraya’s observation:

    “Somewhere deep inside the British consciousness, there still lurks a forced feeling of trying to justify or deflect criticism from its imperialist crimes.”

    To most first-time novelists who are understandably eager to get published, this publisher’s tactic might have worked without a hitch. What’s the big deal about editing out a couple of words? Unfortunately, I’m too pragmatic to fantasise making money through novels, and too cynical to entertain the vanity of signing books for old ladies in shopping malls. I hope not all publishers behave this way. But the business, at least in English books, is after all controlled by a small group of players. Nevertheless, this experience confirms to me that the internet is the only avenue through which the truth and free thoughts (and disinformation) can still flow unmolested, for now anyway.

    Oh, a little side story from my high-school days in Hong Kong, from the late sixties to early 70s. The Opium War as a topic was officially part of the syllabus; but the teachers never spent time on it. The kids insightfully understood, and ignored the topic accordingly. Reportedly, the topic had never appeared in ANY Hong Kong public exam. I did not verify this claim but omitted the topic in my own preparation anyway. For me and my classmates, the energy saving gamble paid off as expected. I did not encountered a single question related to the Opium War on any exam paper throughout my schooling in Hong Kong. A rather strange phenomenon given HK’s historical origin wasn’t it? I wonder if that has changed after 1997.

    @perspectivehere

    Lastly, I fully agree with Perspectivehere’s below response to vvooiitt’s farfetched remarks on Jews being the main force behind the opium trade.

    perspectivehere :
    @vvooiitt
    I’m unconvinced that it is either accurate or useful to characterize Jews as the “true mastermind” behind Opium in China when what we’re looking at are actions of parts of the British Empire involving some individuals and families who happened to be Jewish.

  16. February 18th, 2013 at 07:16 | #16

    @Guo Du
    I agree, when half truth is presented, it distorts the actual history.

  17. February 18th, 2013 at 22:54 | #17

    @Ray
    The mind-boggling thing is mine is not a non-fiction, not even a historical fiction. The portrayal of HK’s early colonial days is meant to add a touch of colourful nostalgia rather than vindictive criticism. In fact, later on in the story, the sage who introduces Tai Chi and Daoist philosophy to one of the protagonists Ma Yili is ironically a Scottish old lady! However, going back to Maitraya’s observation, there seems to be a forced feeling of trying to deflect ANY hint of criticism . . .

    Japan is apparently not alone in wishing to whitewash history. Imagine, 500 years from now, if we last that long, whether Japan invaded its neighbours in the 20th century could become a matter of opinion, a controversial subject open to debate; and the Opium War could become “an incident that was grossly exaggerated by Chinese drug dealers . . .” according to some Western scholars. Interestingly, we’ve entered an age in which events are widely recorded digitally, and stored by millions of common people scattered all over the world. This must give “historians” a headache.

  18. February 23rd, 2013 at 01:56 | #18

    Prompted by all these, I just posted a piece on Elgin Street of Hong Kong and Lord Elgin’s burning of the old Summer Palace (www.guo-du.blogspot.com). I tried sending it to HH essay submission as well but for some reason could not get through the e-mail address provided: essay@hiddenharmonies.org!

  19. vvooiitt
    February 23rd, 2013 at 03:39 | #19

    @perspectivehere
    @Guo Du

    Thanks for allowing me to post here and the cordial approach to debate here. Let me make two related points.

    1) My contention is considerable censorship exists of most major historical events to the point where it is difficult to determine accuracy of all historical sources of investigative works. Given the fact that jewish power dominates every form of mass media conceivable, it is not far-fetched to state that there is a jewish-filter to all our sources of information. The scraps of truth that somehow falls through the cracks of jewish censorship are the precious little in the mountain of lies that flood the entire planet especially in the mainstream news. This becomes all too apparent when considering the false narratives of WWI and WWII events. Just a couple examples:

    (a) Portrayal of Germany under Adolf Hitler as a war-mongering state. FALSE!
    All that Adolf Hitler wanted was to make Germany prosperous as a peaceful nation amongst other sovereigns and secure German lands that was blatantly stolen under the grossly unjust Versailles Treaty where Germany was falsely made responsible for WWI with severe war reparations to boot. Free from filthy parasitic jewish corruption in every sphere of German society.

    It was a cruel attempt at destroying Germany then and was completed in the tragic aftermath of WWII. Not only Germany but The WORLD lost to international jewry supremacist. The absolute horror wanton fire-bomb hell-storms of German civilian cities like Dresden, actual genocidal crimes against humanity scarcely mentioned. Please see this eye-opener video:
    http://archive.org/details/HitlersWar-WhatTheHistoriansNeglectToMentiontestVersion

    (b) Holocaust of 6 million jews in gas chambers. FALSE!
    This myth is absolute bullshit as there were NO gas chambers for extermination in ALL of Germany’s war work-camps. That there were deaths in these camps is not denied but the majority were due to outbreak of deadly typhus and allied forces disruption of food/medical supplies. Watch this:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/denierbud

    2) If we consider the ongoing series of endless criminal wars waged by US military in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa and regard these as merely by US Govt and NATO, we are seriously fooled by not understanding the jewish nature of these genocidal wars. Any doubts who really runs the US Govt? Jewish lobby groups like AIPAC are the puppet masters for the facade of US govt which anyway is infested glaringly by jews and, more insidiously, treasonous dual Israel/US citizens like Michael Chertoff, Richard Perle and Eliot Cohen whose loyalty are to IsraHELL and jewish supremacism first and foremost.

    Wonder how in hell a mighty superpower USA functions like a colony of IsraHELL? International jewry actually controls ALL the major governments on this planet, that’s how sickeningly tyrannical JEW WORLD ORDER it is today. The entire world central banking system is their toy and they print all the ‘funny money’ we use.

    So similarly, the tribe masters controlled the British Empire even then in the 19th century. England was gradually stranglehold by jews starting in the mid-1600s with Oliver Cromwell. The Rothschild jews had complete control of British economy by the early 19th century with the City of London being the hub of the jewish banking syndicate cabal. Looks like they did not waste any time in starting the opium drugging, nation destruction of China in 1830s prostituting the mighty British Empire. Jews are unparalleled masters of deception, lying is an art as natural as breathing is to them.

  20. February 23rd, 2013 at 07:58 | #20

    @vvooiitt
    You are basically destroying the whole premise of your argument by placing the blame on one group of people. You made a point that Nazi Germany is not at fault but turned around to say a certain group is corrupting Germany. And denying or disputing the gas chambers by arguing the number of Jewish people being put to death is also beside the point, you are simply blaming the victims here.

    I am very tempted to delete your above post but will let others decide whether it should stay up. In case you don’t know all your argument against the Jewish people can be used against anybody, including the Chinese. Replace the word Jews or Jewish with Chinese and we would hear the same accusation being made today.

    I will tell you how to present a valid accusation. For example, the Sassoon sell opium illegally in China. He and other drug dealers of other nationality are guilty. It does not equal all British or Jewish people are drug dealers. What you are trying to promote is racism and bigotry.

  21. February 24th, 2013 at 19:15 | #21

    @Ray

    I fully agree with Ray but think that @vvooiitt’s comments should stay. Together with Ray’s response, an important point has been illustrated. @vvooiitt’s reaction to the widespread lies and opinion manipulation in the media and the history book has caused him to draw utterly erroneous and drastically biased (some parts so far-fetched as to be mind-boggling) conclusions. But developing a fatally distorted perspective based on seemingly (or indeed) valid observations that have been (intentionally or unwittingly) removed from context is a common error; and one that is frequently exploited by people with an agenda.

    What better way to illustrate this danger by leaving this exchange here for the readers to reflect on?

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