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The British stole Hong Kong from China over 155 years ago How did they get it in the first place And how is the trade in opium tied to the issue of Hong Kong Opium for medicinal purposes was first manufactured in China toward the end of the 15th century It was used to treat dysentery cholera and other diseases Not until the 18th century were there any accounts of opium smoking in China In 1729 the Chinese imperial government alarmed at its debilitating effect prohibited the sale of opium mixed with tobacco and banned opium-smoking houses Selling opium for smoking was classed with robbery and instigation to murder and punished with banishment or death wrote Joshua Rowntree in The Imperial Drug Trade published in London in 1905 But this didnt stop Britain which had gradually been taking over the opium trade from its European capitalist rivals Portugal and Holland Much of the opium at this time was grown and manufactured in British India Capt Hamilton a private British adventurer who spent 40 years in India in the first part of the 18th century described the city of Patna there as frequented by Europeans where the English and Dutch have factories It produces so much opium that it serves all the countries in India with that commodity BRITAIN GETS MONOPOLY ON OPIUM TRADE Karl Marx wrote in Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist Volume One of Capital The English East India Company as is well known obtained besides the political rule in India the exclusive monopoly of the tea-trade as well as of the Chinese trade in general and of the transport of goods to and from Europe The monopolies of salt opium betel and other commodities were inexhaustible mines of wealth So while the Chinese government was taking stronger and stronger measures to end the opium trade the British were doing all they could to increase it Britains East India Company would wage three
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