Hong Kong has played a crucial role not only in Asia’s economic system but also linked to the western. British successfully prospered Hong Kong’s economy and several impacts has brought into through this development which could be said as a path to Hong Kong’s Modernization.
The role of Opium War in Hong Kong’s economic development
During the start of the 19th century, Hong Kong did not show any indication that it would later become a world trade center in Asia. The country was way beyond in terms of economic development. Unlike today, China was not interested into foreign trade so Hong Kong dwelled mostly on farming and fishing. This did not last until British ocean-going ships discovered Hong Kong as useful for “unloading and loading cargo to be barged up the Pearl River to Canton” (Liu). During that time, there was a trade imbalance between the western countries and china because china had more to offer than it needed in return.
Because of the on-going trade imbalance, the British had to think of ways to prevent it. One of the solutions that they thought of is to illegally import opium to China. Opium was used for medicinal purposes in China toward the end of the 15th century (Tho’Mas). It was used to cure dysentery, cholera, and other diseases. However, it was in 1729 when the Chinese imperial government had found out of the detrimental effects of opium smoking. The opium sale had been banned since 1729 and its importation had been illegal until 1820 (Liu).
The British saw this as an opportunity to offset the trade imbalance. According to Liu, the illegal opium trade thrived in Canton where they imported 40,000 chests of opium to China annually. The British and the US have made a good fortune in this illegal trade. "This illicit massive transfer of wealth from China, one of the world’s richest and largest economies at the time, played a key role in financing the economic development of Europe and North America in the 1800s." (Liu)
As the British continue the opium trade, the Qing dynasty ordered to stop the Opium trade by assigning troops in Canton and demanded that the British troops turn over their opium contraband. More than 20,000 chests of opium were surrendered by the British after six weeks (Liu). This happening encouraged British traders to occupy since