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Paper Topic:

Image Project: China and World Trade, 1840-Present

China and world trade

This essay discusses China 's role in the international trade since 1840 . Its main focus

is on how China opened up to the west and the economic effects of the Opium war

The opium war came to an end in 1842 . This war was a tool designed by the west to

force china to open its market and resources for exploitation . The imbalanced treaties

signed at the end of the opium war was a mechanism to open China . The treaty of

Nanjing was the main

imbalanced treaty , under which the British had everything to gain

including he island of Hong Kong , and China had everything to lose . A closed China

became a semi-feudal semi-colonial state

The economic effects were more severe . Foreign trade flourished with opening of

many new ports . Exports of silk and tea rose to a staggering 400 to 500 percent by 1855

Farmers abandoned farming of food products and turned to silk . The poor became more

poor and unemployment increased . Inland traffic decreased and offshore traffic increased

due to new ports . The sudden spurt in business caused a monetary crisis The Spanish

dollar appreciated so much and the Chinese copper currency depreciated so much

resulting in crisis . money was first introduced in 1853 to avoid this crisis . Textile

industry was the worst hit . The imported machine made goods were so cheap as

compared to Chinese hand made textiles . The local textile producers could not face this

onslaught as production methods remained unchanged . The Chinese economy faced

fundamental changes

Capitalism slowly entered into Chinese economy and Chinese industries were not

equipped to face this . Most exporters were small individual producers and the profits

were made by the middle-men . Western capitalism greatly changed the Chinese economy

by undermining the local self sufficient economy and enhancing the urban market

economy . The Chinese economy was fundamentally changed after the opium war ended

in 1842 ( The opium war and opening of China

Reference : The opium war and opening of China , Retrieved on 31 March 07 from


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