If a survey is conducted in the West about the Opium Wars, very few would know about them today. Even the few who actually know about them will likely not hold the Brits and other Western powers responsible. The reason is because the West has been whitewashing this history.
Case in point was the 1997 Hong Kong hand-over. The Western media spent virtually no time educating their audience how Hong Kong was forcibly taken by the Brits (and hence the hand-over). They instead focused majority of their effort vilifying the Chinese political system and sensationalizing an imminent destruction of Hong Kong’s way of life. This clever tactic is willful omission – by not talking about the miseries of the Chinese at the hands of the drug-pushers and Western invaders, the perpetrators were absolved of their sins. Continue reading New national story or not, Orville Schell and John Delury’s article whitewashes Western atrocities→
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“. Continue reading The Tragicomedy of Errors: China, British Imperialism, and the Opium Wars→
Western travelers will likely wonder why these gold platings were scraped off in water vessels throughout Forbidden City. This is the last visible hint in Forbidden City that still remains today of the European invaders.
The Yuanmingyuan (another location) remains in complete ruins as a reminder to the Chinese people. Each time some auction house in the West sells some Chinese relics for some hundreds of millions of USD also reminds me of these robbers. Below is a quote from Victor Hugo of the atrocity:
Two robbers breaking into a museum, devastating, looting and burning, leaving laughing hand-in-hand with their bags full of treasures; one of the robbers is called France and the other Britain.