Commissioner Lin Zexu

Submitted By dport1289
Words: 1589
Pages: 7

Joey Davenport 4 February 2013
Commissioner Lin essay Throughout the 1800s, the Chinese state had many great leaders emerge. One famous Qing leader was Lin Zexu. Today, this Chinese patriot can be viewed as a morally strong man who did everything in his power to help China resist European domination. Without Commissioner Lin Zexu’s decision to blockade the British, confiscate their opium, and study their information and warfare closely, this devastating drug would still be prevalent in China. Even though China lost thousands of lives during the Opium War, it succeeded because a national hero saved his country for years to come. During the Qing empire rule, problems began to arise when social dislocation continued as some people began to prosper through trade and business while others did not. Secrete societies formed like the White Lotus; and subsequently, the Qing became less successful with governance over their people. Corruption became widespread as food became less available under the Manchu bureaucracy. Through the grain tribute administration on the Grand Canal, this form of corruption continued as grain was shipped along the river. Since agriculture was doing poorly, as ships entered different ports, more grain was stolen. The Qing knew the only possible solution to this issue was through entering ports by sea rather than by river (lecture). However, grain was not the only good entering the state of China. The foreign traders were limited to the port in Canton. There were two rules that they had to abide by: they were only allowed to enter in the small enclave and they could only conduct trade with the Co-Hong guild of merchants. This Canton system of trade became heavily policed and regulated by the Hoppo. In exchange for tea, silk, and lacquer ware, the outsiders brought raw cotton. Sandalwood and ginseng were imported for medicinal use, too, but opium became the most imported good (lecture). The Europeans knew how heavily addictive this drug was.
Opium was crucial to European traders and it affected the Chinese balance of payments because more silver was leaving than entering. The opium trade flourished despite China’s prohibition of opium in 1800 and repeated attempts to block imports (Waley-Cohen 133). As supplies began to decrease and competition with international textiles increased, the British government ended the East India Company’s monopoly on the Chinese trade. This was all part of the British government’s plan to integrate foreign traders with the Chinese trade (Waley-Cohen 135). The Cohong purchased the opium illegally and made enormous profits. The Emperor knew this opium trade needed to cease immediately, but there was only one man who truly felt that continuing to import this good would have a detrimental impact on the Chinese society. From the treaty of Kockland, many officials knew especially Lin Zexu that banning the trade would not be successful. There were two problems of trying to negotiate with the British: the business would be run underground and it would not solve the supply of silver within China (Waley-Cohen 142). Opposed to the option of negotiating terms with the British was an intellectual group known as the Literati coalition. These intellectuals, who could exert major influence over higher-up officials, stood behind the courageous hero known in China today, Lin Zexu. The Literati chose Commissioner Lin because he is incorruptible and an energetic public figure (lecture). Lin Zexu was appointed by the Emperor of China to stop the opium importation in the port of Canton. This was a “win-win” for the Literati because they wished to place a trade embargo on the British and to become more involved with the Chinese government (Waley-Cohen 142). They were a major part to push China into a war with Britain in 1839. The first task Lin was set out to accomplish was confiscation of opium within China. Lin’s plan seemed to stop opium from the inside to the outside of