Getting Married in China

This chapter discusses the legal requirements and procedures in China for marrying either a Chinese national or another foreigner.

Marrying a Chinese National

Mr. and Mrs. Stanosheck, courtesy of

If you do decide to tie the knot, getting married in China is a relatively simple affair although procuring all the necessary paperwork can be a time-consuming pain in the neck. Chinese nationals can register a marriage with a foreigner in their hukou (户口: a hukou is essentially an official document that indicates where the citizen’s recorded place of residence is—China is one of the few countries in the world to have such a system in place and it is intended to control mobility). So, for example, if you are living with your boyfriend in Shanghai and his hukou is in Hunan province, you will either have to return to Hunan to register the marriage or have his hukou transferred to Shanghai (much easier said than done).

A citizen can transfer his hukou if an apartment is purchased or a position is held that is not considered to be a transient one (for example, a position as a hotel clerk would not qualify for a hukou transfer but a position as a senior middle school teacher at a government school would). Many real estate companies sell extra hukou transfer documents, in what could be described as a “gray market,” that were procured after a building was constructed (where the number of apartments in the original blueprint actually exceeded the number that were eventually built-out)—these generally sell anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 yuan depending on the desirability of the new hukou. Just look for posters or billboards in your neighborhood advertising this service.

The foreigner will have to obtain, by appearing in person to his embassy or consulate, a “certificate of marriageability” (the foreigner’s equivalent of the Chinese dan shen zheng ming, 单身证明, or “single certificate”). This document essentially certifies that the foreigner is either single or legally divorced (and you will need an official and certified copy of your divorce papers if this applies). When you appear in front of an embassy or consulate official, in addition to your divorce papers, you will need to present your passport as well as a copy of your fiancée’s national ID card (or shen fen zheng, 身份证) and hukou registration. You do not need to present his passport and he does not have to appear in person (in fact, most Western embassies and consulates will not even admit him). Contact your particular embassy or consulate for specific details.

Once you have all the paperwork, you’ll need three photos of the two of you and you’ll take these down to the local marriage bureau, pay a fee and that’s that: You are legally married. There is no civil type of wedding ceremony in China: You just register the marriage with the proper office. Usually, some weeks or months later, the couple will throw a wedding party to celebrate the marriage fully dressed in Western wedding attire (i.e., wedding gown and tuxedo). To most foreigners, this way-after-the-fact celebration seems anticlimactic but it is the customary practice in China.

Marrying Another Foreigner

Under the strictest letter of the law, two foreigners may technically register a marriage in mainland China, but, as a practical matter, most will find the paperwork involved to be far too overwhelming. In addition, many provinces, as a matter of practice (such that the government officials have never done it before, and would likely be entirely unfamiliar with the law and the required procedures involved in such a matter) will simply inform you, in all earnest, that two foreigners cannot get married in mainland China (although this may not be the case in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, where there are far greater percentages of foreign residents).

Hong Kong Civil Wedding Ceremony American/Filipino couple getting married at the Tsim Sha Tsui Marriage Registry in Hong Kong.

The easiest and simplest solution for two foreigners who want to get married is to do so in Hong Kong, where there are no residency requirements involved. Technically speaking, a foreigner may also marry a Chinese national in Hong Kong (for example, in the case where a church wedding is sought), but securing a travel visa to Hong Kong for a Chinese national may prove to be more cumbersome in the long run than simply returning to the bride’s hometown of record, especially once the foreigner is in possession of all his required documents from his respective embassy or consulate.

You will have to request a notification of marriage packet from the immigration department of Hong Kong by simply sending an e-mail to their intake department. You will receive a full application packet, containing forms you may not need (such as consent from a parent for a minor to marry) in two or three days, via e-mail, and the entire process can be handled through express mail (see the section, on the HK website listed below, for giving “overseas notice”). You will need to sign all required forms in front of a notary of the public and will have to return the forms and payment (a money order from the Bank of China in the amount of 305 HK dollars) via DHL (express mail service). If you are divorced, you will also need to include a certified copy of your divorce papers (Photostat copies of court dockets and decrees, and others not containing official seals and a signature will not suffice). All State Departments issue certified copies of vital statistic records, and most have mechanisms in place for ordering these documents via the Internet.

Once the application (notification of marriage and any other necessary forms) is received, the immigration officer will post a 14-day public notification of marriage, and, at the same time, will make an appointment for you on one of the dates you had specified on the application at the marriage registrar of your choice. However, arrangements for religious (non-civil) ceremonies will have to be made directly by the bride and bridegroom at the place of worship of their choice. You can get married as early as 15 days after the notice of marriage has been posted (assuming no one has objected), and up to three months thereafter. The cost for the civil ceremony and registering the marriage at a marriage registrar is HK$715, Monday through Friday, during normal office hours, and HK$1915 on weekends and holidays.

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Chinese job fair in US tries to wu talent

As part of a movement to attract overseas Chinese professionals to fill jobs in various cities across China, a delegation of high-level officials from Jinan in East China’s Shandong province interviewed over 50 candidates in New York last week for 150 positions they aim to fill in stages over the next five years as part of the city’s “5-150” jobs campaign.

“Jinan is in the process of a massive structural adjustment and rapid growth,” said Vice-mayor Yin Luqian. “We’re looking for professionals to help with the transition and we’re specifically looking for overseas Chinese.”The officials, who just wrapped up interviews in Silicon Valley, California, will also be meeting with candidates in Toronto, Canada, organizers said.

Many overseas professionals have contacted local officials in China in the hope of returning for positions in the growing tech and science fields, Yin said.

A separate delegation of officials from Fujian province met earlier this month with candidates in San Francisco, New York, Boston and Washington DC. In California, officials from universities, research institutes and businesses based in Fujian interviewed 130 overseas Chinese high-tech personnel and Chinese students, 63 of whom expressed an interest in taking up positions in Fujian.

In November 2009, a job fair organized by the Shanghai government in New Jersey attracted over 700 candidates, with fewer than 10 candidates being of foreign descent, organizers said.

The job delegations searching for overseas Chinese candidates are not officially affiliated, organizers of the Jinan job fair said, although initiatives like the “1,000 People Plan”, announced by the national government in 2009 to facilitate the hiring of returning overseas Chinese professionals, have provided them with inspiration.

Whereas the national plan includes financial rewards for applicants who are chosen, the Jinan city government will also offer financial incentives to new employees, said Yao Dewu, deputy HR director for the Jinan city government, with monetary awards ranging from 10,000 to 500,000 yuan ($1,470 to $73,200).

Jinan has long been known as an industrial manufacturing city, Qian said, but there is a growing need for trained experts specifically in the fields of financial management, medicine, computer tech and science.

As a drawing point, Yin pointed to Jinan’s reputation as a “city of gardens” and listed improved living conditions and opportunities to attract recruits.

Hu Meidong contributed to this story.
By Kelly Chung Dawson (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-26 07:35

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Google’s China Stance: More about Business than Thwarting Evil


Writing about China as an American is always tricky, but nowhere near as tricky as what an American company faces doing business there. Let me say upfront, I don’t envy Google. The company has had more success in China than a lot of other big Valley names, but isn’t and will likely never be the market leader. And to get that far, many in the West feel Google has had to compromise its “do-no-evil” ethics by agreeing to some of the government’s censorship rules. Google has been damned either way: China is too big of a market to ignore, but getting as far as they have has come at a steep price to their reputation and international (read: Western) integrity.

Enter the now famous blog post (that was notably, only on the English-language site) saying that Google was no longer playing by the Chinese government’s rules and was prepared to close down Chinese operations if it came to that. Valley elites erupted into applause on Twitter and blogs saying Google was showing more backbone than the US government and was a model of integrity for the world.

I’ll give Google this much: They’re taking a bad situation and making something good out of it, both from a human and business point of view. I’m not saying human rights didn’t play into the decision, but this was as much about business. Lest we get too self-righteous as Westerners, we should remember three things:

1. Google’s business was not doing well in China. Does anyone really think Google would be doing this if it had top market share in the country? For one thing, I’d guess that would open them up to shareholder lawsuits. Google is a for-profit, publicly-held company at the end of the day. When I met with Google’s former head of China Kai-fu Lee in Beijing last October, he noted that one reason he left Google was that it was clear the company was never going to substantially increase its market share or beat Baidu. Google has clearly decided doing business in China isn’t worth it, and are turning what would be a negative into a marketing positive for its business in the rest of the world.

2. Google is ready to burn bridges. This is not how negotiations are done in China, and Google has done well enough there to know that. You don’t get results by pressuring the government in a public, English-language blog post. If Google were indeed still working with the government this letter would not have been posted because it has likely slammed every door shut, as a long-time entrepreneur in China Marc van der Chijs and many others said on Twitter. This was a scorched earth move, aimed at buying Google some good will in the rest of the world; Chinese customers and staff were essentially just thrown under the bus.

3. This is only going to be a trickier issue in the next decade. Think the Shanda acquisition of Mochi Media was an isolated event? Think again. Chinese Web companies are building huge cash hoards and valuable stock currencies and it’s still a comparatively young Web market. Increasingly, these companies could be likely buyers of US startups—not the other way around. Will the Valley’s rhetoric stick then?

This may be the most shocking part: In retrospect Yahoo has played China far better than Google. It pulled out of the country years ago, knowing it wouldn’t win and owns nearly 40% of the Alibaba, a company that very definitely knows how to grow in China. Entrepreneur and angel investor in China Bill Bishop —who hasn’t always agreed with my China coverage in the past—pointed this out, adding “Not often Yahoo looks smarter than Google.”

by Sarah Lacy on Jan 12, 2010

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List of nations friendly to China by ratings

* Albania – Tier 1
* Algeria – Tier 1
* Angola – Tier 1A – supportive
* Argentina – Tier 1B – stable
* Australia – Tier 3B – business unfriendly – relegated
* Bangladesh – Tier 1
* Belarus – Tier 1 – strong support
* Belgium – Tier 3
* Bolivia – Tier 1
* Brunei – Tier 1
* Cambodia – Tier 1
* Canada – Tier 2
* Chile – Tier 1
* Costa Rica – Tier 1B – strong business links
* Croatia – Tier 2
* Cuba – Tier 1A – strong
* Czech Republic – Tier 3C – Pro-West
* Denmark – Tier 3C – no improvement
* Egypt – Tier 1
* Estonia – Tier 3
* Ethiopia – Tier 1
* Fiji – Tier 1
* France – Tier 3A – business stable only
* Germany – Tier 3 -slight improvement
* Ghana – Tier 2
* Great Britain – Tier 2
* Greece – Tier 1 – excellent
* Iceland – relegated to Tier 3C – not friendly
* India – Tier 3A – need to be cautious – not sincere
* Indonesia – Tier 1B – slight improvement
* Iran – Tier 1B – good support
* Italy – Tier 3A – trusted at business level
* Japan – Tier 2A – govt friendly
* Jordan – Tier 1
* Kazakhstan – Tier 1A – excellent
* Kenya – Tier 2
* Laos – Tier 1 – strong support
* Liberia – Tier 1 – excellent
* Libya – Tier 3
* Macedonia – Tier 1
* Malaysia – Tier 1B – respectful ties
* Mali – Tier 1
* Mauritius – Tier 1
* Mexico – Tier 3 – slight improvement
* Mongolia – Tier 1
* Myammar – Tier 1B
* Nepal – Tier 1A – excellent
* New Zealand – Tier 1
* Nicaragua – Tier 3
* Nigeria – Tier 1A – excellent
* North Korea – Tier 1
* Pakistan – Tier 1 – trustworthy – all weather relationship
* Paraguay – Tier 4 – no relationship
* Peru – Tier 1 – recognize market economy
* Philippines – Tier 2
* Poland – Tier 4 – downgrade
* Portugal – Tier 2 – business trust
* Russia – Tier 1A – trustworthy and most reliable
* Saudi Arabia – Tier 1B -genuine business tie-ups
* Senegal – Tier 1 – trustworthy
* Serbia – Tier 1 – trustworthy
* Sierre Leone – Tier 1 – trustworthy
* Singapore – Tier 1C – business trust only
* South Africa – Tier 2
* South Korea – Tier 2 – business trust
* Spain – Tier 2
* Sri Lanka – Tier 1
* Sudan – Tier 2
* Sweden – Tier 2
* Sweden – Tier 2
* Syria – Tier 1
* Tanzania – Tier 1
* Thailand – Tier 1 – strong support
* Tonga – Tier 1
* Turkey – Tier 2 – improving
* Uganda – Tier 1
* Ukraine – Tier 2
* United Kingdom – Tier 3B – worsening
* Uruguay – Tier 2
* US – Tier 2 – deteriorating
* Venezuela-Tier 1
* Vietnam – Tier 1B – party links
* Zambia – Tier 1

Least liked person in China

* Angela Merkel – deal cautiously
* Bertrand Delanoe – s/b blacklisted
* David Drummond – Google Executive Blacklisted
* Desmond Tutu – stay blacklisted
* Dr. Chen Wen-cheng – Taiwan Foundation
* Elie Wiesel
* Jody Williams
* Mia Farrow – stay blacklisted
* Nancy Pelosi – reconciled
* Nicholas Sarkozy – hypocrite
* Nicole Wong – Google
* Pierre Berge – YSL
* Prince Charles – two headed snake
* Richard Gere – continue to be blacklisted
* Richard Moore – Melbourne Film Festival
* Sharon Stone – apologized

Cities Chinese Should Boycott

* Warsaw – no wonder it is a potato growing state
* San Francisco
* Paris – need to review its unfriendly act

Famous Western Artistes Chinese People Should Boycott

* Alanis Morissette
* Dave Matthews
* Garbarge
* Harrison Ford
* Joan Armatrading
* John Mayer
* Sting
* Vanessa Carlton

Institutions Chinese Should Boycott

* Human Rights Watch
* Taiwan Youth Anti-Communist Corps.
* Taiwan Association for Human Rights
* Guts United, Taiwan
* US Congressmen
* Free Tibet Group
* Amnesty International
* Christie Auction House

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How the World Sees China

The rise of anti-Americanism in recent years has given China a decided image advantage over the United States. Considerably more people around the world have an unfavorable view of the America than think poorly of China. But signs in Pew’s polling suggest that perceptions of China’s increasing power – both military and economic – could boost anti-Chinese sentiment in years to come. In fact, there are some signs that this has already begun to occur in Western Europe where worries about China’s economic power are on the rise. Our most recent reading of attitudes toward China among countries around the world comes at a time of widespread discontent with virtually all of the “powers that be.” Not surprisingly, this year’s Pew Global Attitudes survey found global opinions of China mixed.1 The same, of course, is true of opinions of the United States. But what is most striking is that the publics of more countries dislike America than dislike China. In 27 of the 46 nations plus the Palestinian Territories covered by the survey, the balance of opinion regarding China is decidedly favorable; in just five countries are views of China significantly more negative than positive. By comparison, the balance of opinion about the United States is favorable in 25 of the 47 countries; but views of America are decidedly negative in many more countries – half or more of the publics in 18 countries express disapproving views of the United States. China’s fans are most prevalent in the neighboring Asian countries of Malaysia (83% favorable), Pakistan (79%), Bangladesh (74%), Indonesia (65%), as well as in most African countries (92% favorable in both Ivory Coast and Mali and between 67% and 81% in Kenya, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Ethiopia). Still, some Asian publics express mixed feelings about their relationship with China. In Indonesia, for example, a 43% plurality calls China’s growing military power a “bad thing,” but 66% applaud China’s growing economy. In South Korea, a small majority (52%) say it looks favorably on China but substantial majorities worry about its growing military and economic power. Figure Negative views of China are especially strong in Japan, where 67% say they have a generally unfavorable view of China while an even larger majority (80%) disapproves of China’s expanding military strength. Several European countries also cast a worried eye on the Middle Kingdom with majorities in Italy (61%), the Czech Republic (58%), Germany (54%), France (51%) as well as Turkey (53%) saying they hold an unfavorable view of China. A Downward Trend Figure While global opinion of China remains mostly positive, it has soured somewhat in recent years – though not as widely as have attitudes toward the United States. In 9 of 15 countries for which trend data are available, the proportion of the public saying it views China favorably has shrunk over the past 2 years. The largest declines are observed among of China’s Asian neighbors (Japan, South Korea, and India), but significant slippage is also seen in Western Europe (Britain, France, Germany, Spain). (Interestingly, for reasons not apparent from these data, the English-speaking countries covered by the survey — Great Britain, Canada, and even to a lesser extent the United States — have decidedly more favorable overall views of China than do non-English-speaking Western nations.) Moreover, even in countries where overall impressions of China remain positive, growing numbers worry about its heightened military power and, to a lesser extent, its mounting economic power. In 32 of 46 countries surveyed, China’s increasing military muscle is viewed with alarm. These worries are most prevalent in two countries with a long and sometimes bitter historic connection to China: South Korea, where fully 89% view Chinese military might as a bad thing and Japan where 80% share that view. Figure In neighboring India, a clear majority (59%) also expresses concern about China’s military power as do 70% of Russians. On the other hand, majorities in Pakistan (57%), Malaysia (57%), and Bangladesh (51%) say China’s stronger military is good for their country. China’s rapidly expanding economy attracts far less concern. In fact, in 33 of 46 countries, including China itself, China’s growing economy is viewed as a good thing by majorities or pluralities. Nonetheless, concern is significant and increasing in such varied countries as Italy, France, South Korea, the Czech Republic, Germany, Mexico and Malaysia Nearly all of China’s neighbors see what’s good for the Chinese economy as good for their own. Two neighbors stand apart in this however: In South Korea, a substantial 60% majority sees China’s growing economic power as a bad thing. In India, views are more evenly divided, with 42% calling China’s growing economy a good thing and 48% deeming it bad. China’s Influence Spreads to Other Continents Figure China’s growing presence on the world stage is clearly evident in Africa and Latin America. Majorities in most countries in each of these regions say China exerts at least a fair amount of influence on their countries. In eight of 10 sub-Saharan African countries surveyed, majorities say that China has a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of influence on the way things are going in their countries. And in four of seven Latin American countries majorities also say the same thing about China’s influence on their countries. In Africa, China’s influence is now seen as rivaling American influence. In such major nations as Ethiopia, South Africa, and Nigeria, equally huge numbers see America and China exerting an important influence in their countries. Ghana, Uganda and Kenya still rate American influence more potent in their nations. But in Senegal, Mali, and Ivory Coast, greater numbers say China has an important influence than say the same about the United States. Most striking is that while clear majorities in 8 of 10 sub-Saharan African nations surveyed say that America’s influence in their countries is generally good, China’s influence is almost universally viewed as having a more beneficial impact on African countries than does that of the United States. Figure In Latin America, U.S. dominance is less challenged by China’s rise to world power. In all seven Latin American nations surveyed, larger numbers see an important U.S. influence than say the same about China. In most of these countries the difference is substantial, ranging from 35 percentage points in Peru and 31 points in Argentina down to 8 points in Chile. Reactions to the influence of both China and the United States are far less positive in Latin American than in Africa, but views are divided across nations. In Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia and Peru, majorities or pluralities rate China’s influence as good, while the reverse is true with respect to the United States. In Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, the influence of both countries is generally regarded unfavorably — in some cases by large majorities (80% of Argentineans take a dim view of American influence there.) Notes 1 See “Global Unease with Major World Powers and Leaders,” Pew Global Attitudes Project, June 2007.

by Andrew Kohut, President, Pew Research Center December 11, 2007 PrintEmailShare From: To: Figure

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Superior Chinese Technology

The Science & Technology Ancient China Taught the West

East West Dialogue
Few Westerners are aware that, for thousands of years, China was far
more developed than the West. In this article we will examine the Confucian
culture, that created the basis for the Chinese to make a series of remarkable
inventions, and how these inventions allowed China to achieve a
much higher living standard, than existed anywhere else at the time

A Chinese Seed Drill: This technology was used in China for
thousands of years before it was introduced into Europe

China is one of the few nations in the world that is currently carrying
out great infrastructure projects similar to those that were essential
to the development of the United States. This is exemplified by the
Three Gorges Dam, plans to build railroads to develop the western
regions, and China’s collaboration with the nations of Asia and Europe
in the development of the Eurasian Land-Bridge. The forward-looking
nature of China’s policies is exemplified by the fact that China is the
first nation to begin construction of a magnetically levitated train,
while projects to build magnetically levitated trains have been canceled
in the West.

Few Westerners realize today, that for much of Ancient times, and the
Middle Ages, China was significantly more advanced than Europe. In this
article, we will examine a number of the technological breakthroughs made
in ancient China, and the Confucian outlook that encouraged these
discoveries. We will also examine this period of Chinese history, from
the standpoint of the principles of economic science that were developed
by Lyndon LaRouche, to see the relationship of these technological
breakthroughs to the development of China’s economy.

Foolish people today (including, unfortunately, many in Congress and the
present Administration), seem to think that China’s identity is defined
by the last half-century, i.e., that it was always Communist. However,
that period of Chinese history, from which it has been re-emerging in
recent years, represents only {one percent} of its 5,000-year history!
The paradox thus posed is: How has this civilization survived and
prospered for five millennia, to become the most populous nation on Earth?

China’s Confucian Tradition

“Now when food meant for human beings is so plentiful as to be thrown
to dogs and pigs, you fail to realize that it is time for garnering,
and when men drop dead from starvation by the wayside, you fail to realize
that it is time for distribution. When people die, you simply say, `It is
none of my doing. It is the fault of the Harvest.’ In what way is that
different from killing a man by running him through, while saying all the
time, `It is none of my doing. It is the fault of the weapon.’ Stop
putting the blame on the harvest and the people of the whole Empire
will come to you” (Mencius, Book 1 Part A, 3).

The successes of ancient China in economic development were the result of
the influence of the Confucian philosophical school, led by Confucius
(551-476 B.C.) himself, and his follower, Mencius (372-289 B.C.). Both
recognized an absolute distinction between mankind and the beasts,
asserting that man’s nature was essentially good, and capable of being
governed by reason.

Confucius taught that society must be governed, not by selfishness and
greed, but by the Chinese concept, ren, which is very similar to the
Platonic and Christian concept of agapee (a Greek word, usually translated
as “love,” or “charity”). Confucius proclaimed what the West would later
call the Golden Rule: “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of
practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not `reciprocity’
such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

Moreover, some 2,200 years before the Preamble to U.S. Constitution was
adopted, Confucius and Mencius established the responsibility of
government to promote the General Welfare. Although society was still
hierarchically ordered, with the Emperor exerting absolute rule over his
subjects, he was required to ensure their livelihood, or risk losing the
mandate of Heaven. As Mencius stated, “Heaven sees with the eyes of its
people. Heaven hears with the ears of its people”; he quoted from the
“Book of History,” to indicate that societies are destroyed, not
by natural disasters, but by human folly:

“When Heaven sends down calamities,
There is hope of weathering them;
When man brings them upon himself,
There is no hope of escape.”

However, Confucianism was often opposed by antithetical ideologies, such
as Daoism, which had a very destructive effect when they were dominant.
When governments strayed from Confucian principles, the result was
often civil war and massive depopulation.

In the classical work of Daoism, the ‘Dao Te Ching,’ the Lao Zi, (Sixth
Century) taught that the king rules by keeping his people ignorant: “He
empties their minds, and fills their bellies;|… He strives always to keep
the people innocent of knowledge and desires, and to keep the knowing ones
from meddling.” Daoism rejected the Confucian concept of government’s
responsibility to promote the General Welfare, arguing that events should
simply take their course.

The European Renaissance and the foundation of the nation-state in the
15th Century, in Louis XI’s France and Henry VII’s England represented a
fundamental advance for all mankind, that allowed human society to achieve
rates of growth that were unprecedented in human history. However, during
much of the period prior to the Renaissance, the Chinese economy achieved
a level of productivity, that far exceeded that of Europe. Central to this
development, was the Confucian conception of man as governed by reason, and
not bestial emotions, which guided the Chinese to make a remarkable series of
discoveries, many of which were not made in Europe, until much later.

Government That Promotes the General Welfare

Chinese governments carried out numerous initiatives to develop agriculture,
which was by far the largest sector of the economy at that time. The “Lu shi
chun qiu,” or “Master Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals,” written around
250-225 B.C. states:

“The ruler shall order the work of the fields to begin. He shall order the
inspectors of the fields to reside in the lands having an eastern exposure,
to repair the borders and boundaries of the fields, to inspect the paths and
irrigation ditches, to examine closely the mounts and hills, the slopes and
heights and the plains and valleys to determine what lands are good and where
the five grains should be sown, and they shall instruct and direct the people.
This they must do in person. When the work of the fields had been well begun,
with the irrigation ditches traced out correctly before-hand, there will be
no confusion later.”

Governments actively promoted the development of new technologies in
agriculture, and often took initiatives to insure their use by the peasants.
This is evidenced by the fact that over 500 tracts were produced, many of them
by government officials, dating back over 2000 years, developing the science
of agriculture. These tracts covered a wide range of crops, and the entire
range of techniques and technologies necessary to develop productivity, such
as plowing, sowing, irrigation and cultivation.

Chinese writings on agriculture were vastly superior to those produced in
Europe, until as late the 18th Century. Roman works on farming remained the
main writings used throughout the Middle Ages. These Roman tracts dealt with
the management of slave estates to produce wine and olive oil, with little on
other crops. Only the Arabs introduced new techniques into Europe, before the

Confucianism–like its distant offspring, the American System of National
Economy–rejected “free trade,” and promoted government intervention to
insure the General Welfare. The “Han shu shi huo zhi’ (“Han Book on Food and
Money”), the first economic history of China, published in the First Century
A.D., discussed actions of the government to control speculators, who enriched
themselves, through actions that impoverished or starved the people. For
example, the Han dynasty practiced a policy akin to parity-pricing for
agriculture, with its “ever-level price granaries.” The government purchased
grain during times of surplus, and sold it during times of shortage, in order
to maintain a stable price. The price of many commodities was regulated to
reflect the cost of production.

Free trade or “laissez-faire” economics, popularized by British East India
Company agent Adam Smith, and adopted by the 18th-Century French Physiocrats,
was based on a “hedonistic principle,” which Confucianism rejected.
Francalois Quesnay, one of the creators of the Physiocratic doctrine, stated,
“To secure the greatest amount of pleasure with the least possible outlay
should be the aim of all economic effort.” The Physiocrats would later falsely
claim that the success of the Chinese economy, was proof of their ideology,
which asserted that only agriculture was truly productive.

However, to understand agriculture, or any sector of an economy, it is necessary
to examine the processes that determine the economy as a whole. Contrary to the
assertions of the French Physiocrats, the success of Chinese agriculture was
based on technological breakthroughs, that gave the Chinese a superior
tool-making industry. Indeed, this is illustrated by the ‘Han shu,’ which states,
“Iron may be called a fundamental in farming.

The Science of Economics

The science of economics was founded by Leibniz and further developed by Lyndon LaRouche. We will discuss some of the basic concepts expressed in LaRouche’s text, “So You Wish to Learn About Economics.”

Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716), who founded the science of Economics, studied the application of heat powered machinery to increase the power of the worker. As LaRouche states, “The increase of man’s power over nature is most easily measured as a decrease of the habitable land area required to sustain an average person.” A more accurate measurement is not simply the existing population density, but the potential level of population that a given technology can support, the “potential relative population-density.”

No economy can remain in a fixed level of technology. If a society does not advance to a higher level of technology, it will run into limits, as it exhausts the resources that are available, at that level of technology. As LaRouche states, “Only societies whose cultures commit them to successful technological progress, as a policy of practice, are qualified to survive and to prosper.”

Technological breakthroughs can occur on two levels: 1) those that increase the productivity of labor, for example, the introduction of a more efficient plow. 2) a technological revolution that moves society to a completely higher level of technology, for example, the introduction of electricity. The measure of economic value and work is the rate of increase of potential relative population-density, relative to it’s existing level.

A successful economy must meet a number of conditions. The living standard of the population must rise. However, even as the living standards of the population rise, investment in capital goods must rise even more rapidly, causing the capital intensity of the economy, to increase. A successful economy must increase the surplus that it invests in the development of new technology even more rapidly. It must also make necessary investments in basic infrastructure such as transportation, water supplies, and health care and education.

We will now examine the development of the Chinese economy over the last 2500 years, keeping these principles in mind. We will see how China’s technological breakthroughs led to increases in the potential relative population-density.

Chinese Metallurgy: The Basis For Superior Tools

A Chinese Blast Furnace

The Iron Age is generally considered to have begun around
1700-1500 B.C. The introduction of iron allowed mankind to develop tools that were stronger and superior to stone or bronze. These improved tools increased productivity.

The manufacture of iron requires two processes: First, the iron, which naturally occurs in the form of an ore of iron oxide, must be separated from the oxygen and other impurities, in a high-temperature process, which is
called reducing or smelting. The oxygen is removed by combining it with carbon, to form carbon dioxide. This leaves behind the iron in metallic form. The other impurities form a slag, which is then separated. Second, the raw iron must be manufactured into useful articles.

The earliest smelting of iron ore was done at temperatures below the melting point of iron, which is higher than that of copper and bronze. Iron, produced by this method, forms a spongy solid, when it is removed from the furnace. Furnaces that reduced iron ore to its metallic form, while operating below the melting point of iron, were called bloom furnaces.

Once the reduction of iron ore to its metallic form has been accomplished, it must be shaped into a useful article. Transforming the spongy raw iron into a useful article, was a slow, and very inefficient process, which only allowed the production of simple shaped utensils, such as swords.

However, by no later than the end of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.), the Chinese developed the technology of the blast furnace. This allowed them to heat the ore above its melting point, and produce cast iron. Among the inventions that made this possible, was the double-action bellows. The manufacture of iron, using a blast furnace to produce a molten metal, greatly expanded production: The process could be continuous, as the molten metal flowed from the reducing furnace, was poured into molds, and made into a large variety of products.

Casting a bell

The blast furnace was introduced in Europe, on a wide scale, only in the late 14th Century, almost 2,000 years later. The use of cast iron was, unfortunately, introduced in Europe largely for the production of cannon; Henry VII constructed the first blast furnaces in England. The replacement of the bloom furnace with the blast furnace, increased productivity in the English iron industry 15-fold.

The Chinese were able to manufacture superior tools, that the more primitive European metallurgy was incapable of producing, which led to a substantial advance in productivity throughout the entire economy. As early as the Third Century B.C., the state of Qin appointed government officials to supervise the iron industry, and penalize manufacturers who produced substandard products. The Han Dynasty nationalized all cast-iron manufacture in 119 B.C. Around that time, there were 46 imperial Iron Casting Bureaus throughout the country, with government officials insuring that cast-iron tools were widely available. This included cast-iron plowshares, iron hoes, iron knives, axes, chisels, saws and awls, cast-iron pots, and even toys.

The Chinese also developed methods for the manufacture of steel that were only matched in the West, in the recent period. The characteristics of iron alloys are related to the carbon content. Cast iron generally has a high carbon content, which makes it strong, but brittle. Steel, which is an alloy of iron with a low carbon content, is strong and more durable. The use of steel in agricultural implements was introduced, on a wide scale, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). This led to a further improvement in productivity.

In the Second Century B.C., the Chinese developed what became known in the West as the Bessemer process. They developed a method for converting cast iron into steel, by blowing air on the molten metal, which reduced the carbon content. In 1845, William Kelly brought four Chinese steel experts to Kentucky, and learned this method from them, for which he received an American patent. However, he went bankrupt, and his claims were made over to the German, Bessemer, who had also developed a similar process.

As early as the Fourth Century A.D., coal was used in China, in place of charcoal, as fuel to heat iron to rework the raw iron into finished products. Although sources on the use of coal in the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) are limited, the Chinese are reported to have developed the ability to use coal in the smelting of iron by the Ninth Century.

The use of wood to make charcoal was causing deforestation, which threatened to limit the production of iron. Indeed, the development of the capability to use coal in iron manufacture is an example of how a new technology allows mankind to overcome limits imposed by existing levels of technology. The rapid expansion of iron production that occurred under the Song Dynasty, would not have been possible without the introduction of coal as an energy source in the production of iron.

Under the Song dynasty, the iron and steel industry reached a level that was spectacular, compared to that in Europe. Between 850 and 1050, iron production increased 12-fold. By 1078, North China was producing more than 114,000 tons of pig iron a year. In 1788, seven hundred years later, England’s production of pig iron was around 50,000 tons.

Chinese Agricultural Productivity: The Result of Superior Technology

Breugel’s painting shows a man plowing with an inefficient European plow

“Master Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals” describes how each spring, the Emperor and his chief ministers initiated the growing season, with a ceremony in which each took turns plowing the ground. The plows they used were dramatically superior to the plows that were used in Europe, until the 18th Century. Writer Robert Temple has observed that, “Nothing underlines the backwardness of the West more than the fact that for thousands of years, millions of human beings plowed the earth in a manner which was so inefficient, so wasteful of effort, and so utterly exhausting, that this deficiency of sensible plowing may rank as mankind’s single greatest waste of time and energy.”

Plows prepare the ground for planting, by using an iron share to cut into the ground, and a mould-board to turn it, burying the weeds and loosening the soil. In 1784, the Scottish agricultural scientist, James Small, enunciated the following principles of scientific plow design:

“The back of the sock [share] and mould-board shall make one continued fair surface without any interruption or sudden change.” Chinese plows, from the Third Century B.C., already met these requirements. They had a cast-iron mould-board, which was a curved device, that shifted the soil with the minimum of drag. The European plow simply had a wooden board coming off to the side which turned the soil, that had been cut.

A Chinese cast iron plow

In ‘So You Wish to Learn All About Economics?,’ Lyndon LaRouche developed the basic principles of technology. In it, he states, “Generally speaking, the power applied to the work by a machine is not the same power supplied to the machine as a whole. A very simple machine, a simple knife blade, illustrates the point: the pressure applied by the sharpened edge of the blade is vastly greater than the pressure exerted upon the handle of the knife. The power is more concentrated. We measure such concentration of power as increase of energy-flux density.”

The Chinese plow concentrated the force much more efficiently on the sharp blade of the plow, with the mould-board designed to turn the soil with a minimum of drag. With the European plow, the entire straight wooden mould-board pushed against the soil. Therefore, the Chinese plow achieved a far higher energy-flux density, and accomplished far more work with far less effort. Chinese plows were so efficient, that they required only one or two animals to pull them. Four, six, or even eight draft animals were needed to pull the inefficient European plow. The Chinese plow was vastly more efficient than the European plow, both per worker and per unit of energy used. As LaRouche states, “This difference is Leibniz’s definition of the subject matter of technology.”

Row Agriculture and Weeding

Paul de Limbourg and Colombe, October, Tres Riches Heures, Musee Conde, Chantilly

The method used in Europe to plant seeds, as late as the 18th Century, was extremely wasteful and inefficient. A painting by the Limbourg Brothers for the Duc de Berry (ca. 1415) ‘Les Tres Riches Heures,’ to illustrate the month of October, demonstrates the inefficency of the methods for planting that were used in Europe until the 18th Century. In the lower righthand corner, a peasant tosses seeds, from a sack he carries, onto the ground. Behind him, another peasant is riding a horse that is pulling a rake. The purpose of the rake was to cover the seeds with soil; a very unreliable method, that left many seeds exposed. Appropriately, pictured in the lower left, is a flock of birds, who are busily eating the seeds.

This method was so inefficient that most of the seeds never germinated to produce a crop. The plants also grew up in a disorganized mess. Weeding the fields was impossible, so the plants were left to compete with the weeds until harvesting season. This considerably reduced the crop. In Europe, it was often necessary to save one-half of the harvest to use as seeds the next year.

By no later than the Sixth Century B.C., the Chinese adopted the practice of growing crops in evenly spaced rows, and using a hoe to remove the weeds. “Master Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals,” states “If the crops are grown in rows they will mature rapidly because they will not interfere with each other’s growth.

The Seed Drill

At first, the seeds were placed by hand in furrows, in a ridge-and-furrow pattern. Around the Second Century B.C., the Chinese introduced the seed drill, which became almost universally used in northern China. This device consisted of small plows that cut small furroughs in the ground, a mechanism that released the seeds, evenly spaced into these furrows, and a brush or roller that covered the seeds with dirt. The seed drill could be adjusted for different types of soil and seeds. This method of planting was so much more efficient than sowing the seed by scattering it, that it could achieve an efficiency 10 or even 30 times greater.

It should be easy to see that the difference in productivity between Chinese and European agriculture was dramatic. The area of land that could be brought under cultivation in Europe was constricted by inferior technology, and by the need to leave more land as pasture to feed the extra draft animals. Obviously, we are comparing two large areas, over a long period of time. However, Chinese yields have been estimated at two, five, or even ten times higher than yields in Europe, at various times. China’s higher yields allowed for an increased population density, and also for an increased division of labor, as we will see below.

Eventually these technologies were transmitted to Europe, which led to a large increase in agricultural production. European travelers were greatly impressed with the wealth of China, and the productivity of its agriculture. Leibniz and others actively sought out information on Chinese science, industry and agriculture from Europeans who traveled to China.

The Chinese plow and seed drill were introduced into Europe during the 17th Century, and gradually adopted throughout Europe. Growing crops in rows was championed by British agricultural reformer, Jethro Tull, who printed a treatise in 1731, to persuade farmers to adopt what he called “horse-hoeing husbandry.” Tull published arguments similar to those used 2000 years earlier in China. Tull also developed one of the first successful European seed drills.

Transportation and infrastructure

Confucian philosophy placed the responsibility for the development of infrastructure on the ruler. The development of inland water transport, which is far less costly than overland transport for bulk commodities, was essential for the growth of a large-scale iron industry, and for transporting the large quantities of grain needed by China’s cities. Even into modern times, the length of China’s transportation canals has exceeded those of Europe.

In 1615, the missionary-scholar Matteo Ricci, who lived and taught in China for many years, reported, “This country is so thoroughly covered by an intersecting network of rivers and canals that it is possible to travel almost anywhere by water.” He also estimated that there were as many boats in China as in all of the rest of the world. From 1405 to 1433, Chinese fleets under Admiral Zheng He carried out seven expeditions reaching as far as Africa and the Red Sea. The first fleet consisted of 317 ships and 26,800

Around 215 B.C., the first contour canal was built in China, which linked the Changjiang (Yangtzee) and the Zhujiang (Pearl) river systems. The Grand Canal is the longest and largest of all navigation canals in the world. Completed during the reign of Emperor Yang Di (604-17 A.D.), it extended 1,250 miles from the Changjiang River to Beijing. During the Tang Dynasty, over 2 million tons of grain were shipped, yearly, north on the canal. This increased to 7 million tons during the Song Dynasty.

Numerous water projects were developed for irrigation, from as early as 600 B.C. Major dike projects were also built to control rivers, and protect the coastline.

Roads and Horse Harnesses

The Chinese also developed an extensive network of roads. By 210 B.C., 4,000 miles of imperial highways, equal to the distance built by the Romans, had been constructed in China. The Chinese made major innovations in bridge construction. A number of bridges were so well designed, that they are still in use over 1,000 years later. One bridge, built in 610 A.D., that still survives, bears the inscription to its designer, Li Ch’un: “Such a master-work could never have been achieved, if this man had not applied his genius to the building of a work which would last for centuries to come.”

Under the Roman Empire, even the horses had an inferior existence to those living in China. The Romans used a throat-and-girth harness that went around the horse’s neck. This choked the poor horse with the least exertion. In the Third and Fourth Century B.C., the Chinese made two improvements in horse harnesses, which placed the force of the load on the horse’s chest bones, rather than its throat. Studies have shown that the Chinese harnesses allowed a horse to pull a load six times greater that of a horse in a throat-and-girth harness. These Chinese harnesses were brought to Europe through Central Asia, thereby liberating Europe’s horses from choking harnesses, and improving Europe’s ability to transport goods. This same path was followed by the stirrup, another Chinese invention which greatly improved man’s ability to ride a horse, without falling offand for long distances with less exertion.

Ancient China’s Remarkable Cities

It can be easily seen that superior Chinese technology made
possible a much higher productivity in agriculture, both per-person and per-hectare. This allowed the Chinese economy to support a larger proportion of its population in non-agricultural employment, and allowed the development of a level of urbanization that was unprecedented in Europe until after the 15th-Century Renaissance.

Although the following figures are estimates, the strongest evidence of their accuracy is that the Chinese had developed a level of technology capable of supporting such large urban centers.

The largest city of the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.), Linzi the capital of the state of Chi, reached a population of approximately 300,000. In 300 B.C., at least nine cities, containing more than 100,000 people can be identified. Approximately 4.3 million people, or approximately 14%, lived in urban centers, (defined as 2,000 or more).

During the Second Century B.C., Xi’an was the largest city in the world. Luoyang, the capital of the Eastern Han Dynasty, reached a population of 500,000 during the First Century A.D. It had an imperial observatory, where Zhang Heng created his seismograph, and advanced his theory that the Earth was spherical; an Academy, attended by 30,000 students; and a granary for times when food relief was needed.

Under the Song Dynasties (960-1279), China’s cities reached their height of development. Lin-an, (Hangzhou) the capital of the Southern Song reached 2.5 million by 1200. In addition, there were two other cities of 350,000 each, and others were more than 100,000 each. By contrast, in 1200, the largest cities in Western Europe, were Florence and Venice with about 90,000 each, and Milan with 75,000. The largest European cities during the Middle Ages were Constantinople and Cordoba. Constantinople, in today’s Turkey, reached around 600,000 to 800,000 in 1100. Cordoba, in Muslim Spain, reached 400-500,000, but then declined.
The level of urbanization in China has been estimated at around 20% in 1200. France and England did not reach a 20% level of urbanization until the 18th Century. It can be easily seen that superior Chinese technology made possible a much higher productivity in agriculture, both per-person and per-hectare. This allowed the Chinese economy to support a larger proportion of its population in non-agricultural employment, and allowed the development of a level of urbanization that was unprecedented in Europe until after the 15th-Century Renaissance.

Although the following figures are estimates, the strongest evidence of their accuracy is that the Chinese had developed a level of technology capable of supporting such large urban centers.

The largest city of the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.), Linzi the capital of the state of Chi, reached a population of approximately 300,000. In 300 B.C., at least nine cities, containing more than 100,000 people can be identified. Approximately 4.3 million people, or approximately 14%, lived in urban centers, (defined as 2,000 or more).

During the Second Century B.C., Xi’an was the largest city in the world. Luoyang, the capital of the Eastern Han Dynasty, reached a population of 500,000 during the First Century A.D. It had an imperial observatory, where Zhang Heng created his seismograph, and advanced his theory that the Earth was spherical; an Academy, attended by 30,000 students; and a granary for times when food relief was needed.

Under the Song Dynasties (960-1279), China’s cities reached their height of development. Lin-an, (Hangzhou) the capital of the Southern Song reached 2.5 million by 1200. In addition, there were two other cities of 350,000 each, and others were more than 100,000 each. By contrast, in 1200, the largest cities in Western Europe, were Florence and Venice with about 90,000 each, and Milan with 75,000. The largest European cities during the Middle Ages were Constantinople and Cordoba. Constantinople, in today’s Turkey, reached around 600,000 to 800,000 in 1100. Cordoba, in Muslim Spain, reached 400-500,000, but then declined. The level of urbanization in China has been estimated at around 20% in 1200. France and England did not reach a 20% level of urbanization until the 18th Century.

Successful Economic Development

The development of a large urban population allowed the Chinese economy to achieve a higher division of labor, which was the basis for further increases in productivity. Mencius described the importance of a large division of labor: “Moreover, it is necessary for each man to use the products of all the hundred crafts. If everyone must make everything he uses, the Empire will be led along the path of incessant toil.” Mencius Book III Part A.4

China’s cities were centers for education and scientific research, an example of how a society should reinvest it’s surplus product, into research to discover new technologies that further increased the societies potential relative population-density. Furthermore, the higher educational level created the conditions for China to develop a rich culture in art and poetry. This further increased the societies potential to make scientific discoveries, since the principles of scientific discovery are the same as the principles of metaphor in good art and poetry.

Although China went through a number of very troubled times, China’s economic development, in many of periods up through the Song dynasty, was remarkably successful for a nation, during this period in history. China’s development during successful periods can be compared to the conditions for development that we discussed earlier.

* The living standard of the population) was increasing.
* The level of capital investment was increasing. This can be seen in areas such as the growth of iron production, which far exceeded any other country on earth.
* A surplus was produced that was invested in crucial areas such as education. For example, during the Song Dynasty, the state school system was capable of supporting 200,000 students.
* Improvements in technology were allowing the Chinese economy to produce this increased product with less effort.
* The Chinese were making significant scientific discoveries that further improved the productivity of Chinese society. For example, the Chinese invented printing, and China under the Song Dynasty was the first society with the widespread use of printed books, greatly increasing the transmission of ideas.
* All of this is reflected in the increased potential relative population density, and the increased level of urbanization.

Scientific Discovery is Necessary for Survival

In the 13th Century, China was hit by catastrophe, with the Mongol invasion. The level of genocide is illustrated by the drop in the population from approximately 120 million in 1200, to half that level, 125 years later.

Although China began to recover, under the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911), growth fell short of the requirements for sound economic development that we have described. Problems developed in the Chinese economy, as China failed to maintain a commitment to continual scientific and technological progress.

Although China grew, in area and population, the percentage of the population living in urban centers actually decreased. Following the Mongol invasion, no city again reached 1 million until 1850. China’s population, which was about 60 million in 1368, increased to some 200 million by 1600, reaching around 430 million in 1850. However, in 1820, the level of urbanization had declined to 7%, a dramatic decrease from the 20% level of 600 years earlier.

That China did not maintain and further increase the level of urbanization during this period, is indicative of its failure to continue scientific and technological progress. The increased population remained in the countryside, where it continued to use the same technology. Tragically, rather than creating new industries to utilize the increased population, more labor-intensive techniques were introduced in agriculture, for example, a plow designed to be pulled by humans.

The shift towards more labor-intensive practices, decreased the output per person, and lowered the potential relative population-density. None of the conditions, that we have described as necessary for successful economic development were met. The population’s living standard declined. Consequently, the implements used by many of the farmers, at the beginning of the 20th Century, were more primitive than those described in a 1313 book by Wang Chen.

Also, the destructive effect on China of British opium trafficking during the 19th Century cannot be underestimated. The amount of money looted out of China was so massive that it caused a severe disruption of the economy and society. By 1900, a great part of government revenues went to pay debts forced on the Chinese as war reparations, for attempting to defend themselves from the British opium traffickers. Even worse, it was precisely the intelligentsia, who would have mastered and introduced the new technologies of the West, who were destroyed. By 1880, there were an estimated 30-40 million opium addicts, or possibly, even more.

China Moves Into the Twenty-first Century

Chinese President Jiang Zemin

The true heirs of the Renaissance, such as Leibniz, sought to form an alliance between Europe and China, combining the best of both cultures. Leibniz proposed that, “as the most cultivated and distant peoples [Europe and China] stretch out their arms to each other, those in between may gradually be brought to a better way of life.”

During the last 25 years, China has undergone a remarkable period of development. Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping took personal responsibility for relaunching the nation’s commitment to science and technology, in the aftermath of the disastrous Cultural Revolution. Deng grasped its importance for successful development: “We often say that man is the most active productive force. `Man’ here refers to people who possess a certain amount of scientific knowledge, experience in production and skill in the use of tools to create material wealth. There were vast differences between the instruments of production man used, his mastery of scientific knowledge, and his production experience and skills in the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages and in the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries. Today, the rapid progress of science and technology is speeding up the introduction of new production equipment and new technological processes.” Deng stated that fostering in the Chinese people, a conscious commitment to raising their level of scientific and general knowledge, would allow the them to achieve a higher level of productivity than nations that did not develop this conscious commitment in their people.

China’s President Jiang Zemin has also located the development of the creative powers of the human mind as the central task for China. He stated, “The progress of human civilization has more and more convincingly proved that science and technology constitute a primary productive force and an important driving force for economic development and social progress…. Human wisdom is inexhaustible. Science and technology are a shining beacon of this wisdom.”

The very survival of the United States depends on an agreement for a New Bretton Woods monetary system, which will necessarily include China. Americans would do well to study the 5,000-year history of China, in order to gain a sense of history, needed to approach the tasks that both nations face in overcoming the crisis that is now engulfing the world.

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Opium War

The Queen of England Pushes Dope

“In view of the inordinate lengths to which the corruption of morals have advanced, I almost think it necessary that Chinese missionaries should be sent us to teach the aim and practice of natural theology.”

–Gottfried Leibniz

At midnight on July 1, 1997, Hongkong, the British Crown Colony, will be restored to China. This is not only an event which will be celebrated by patriotic Chinese; any patriotic American should celebrate it as well. The British seizure of Hongkong was an aspect of one of the most ugly crimes of the British Empire: the takeover and destruction of India, and the use of India to flood China with opium. The British twice sent the Royal Navy to enforce opium addiction on China, in order to open up China for looting.

In spite of this crime, the British and their allies in the United States, are trying to use the return of Hongkong to create a scandal around alleged “human rights violations” by the Chinese, as a pretext to disrupt relations between China and the United States. This is especially dangerous because the battle to create a new economic system, to replace the collapsing one, is centered around U.S. cooperation with China. The issue at stake is not that of “communism versus free trade.” The war is between the British System and the American System.

It was common knowledge before 1921, that the British Empire was the world’s leading drug trafficker in the 19th century. Even Ted Koppel, in a recent “Nightline” special report on Hongkong, was forced to admit this.

Lyndon LaRouche’s associates published Dope, Inc., which documents how this British control has continued to this day. Treason in America, by Anton Chaitkin, documents how opium trafficking played a central role in building up the “treason” faction in America. However, this subject has been declared “off-limits,” by the defamation of LaRouche, as exemplified by the slander, “LaRouche claims that the Queen of England runs drugs.”

The destructive nature of opium was well known at the time of the Opium Wars. Opium is highly addictive, and induces passivity into the smoker. Addicts seldom lived past age fifty; heavy smokers had a life expectancy of only five years.

The drug was widely used in Britain itself, even by the Royal Family, as shown by revelations that Queen Victoria’s court frequently ordered opium from the royal apothecary at Balmoral. In England, where opium was legal, the cause of the exceptionally high infant mortality rate in one Lancashire town was discovered to be a concoction, called “Godfrey’s Cordial,” a cough syrup containing opium which was given to babies, often in lethal doses.

While a prosperous Chinese official could afford opium addiction, a Chinese worker would spend two-thirds of his wages, neglecting his family. Many Chinese saw opium as a poison introduced by foreign enemies. In 1729, the Emperor banned the import of opium, except for a small amount, licensed as medicine. In 1799 a stronger Imperial decree was issued prohibiting both the smoking of opium and its importation. This decree stated:

“Foreigners obviously derive the most solid profits and advantages … but that our countrymen should pursue this destructive and ensnaring vice … is indeed odious and deplorable.”
Confucianism strongly condemned the use of drugs like opium. Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716), the great German mathematician, physicist and philosopher, who wrote extensively on China, recognized that Confucianism contained many of the most positive features of Christianity. Leibniz worked for an ecumenical alliance between Confucianism and Christianity. In Confucianism, a man had a duty and debt to his ancestors. His body was given to him by his ancestors as their link to his descendants. Therefore, for a man to destroy his own body was a great offense against filial piety.

The British were well aware of the destructive nature of opium, but argued that opium sales were necessary because it was the only item which they could sell to the Chinese. Payment for tea, which the British imported, had created a drain of silver from England to China.

Far More Evil than Mere Greed

The Governor-General of the East India Company stated in 1817,

“Were it possible to prevent the use of the drug altogether, except for medicine, we would gladly do it, in compassion for mankind.”
This explanation sounds like the famous bandit, Willie Sutton, who, when asked, “Why do you rob banks?” responded, “Because that’s where the money is.” However, the true motive for Britain’s Opium Wars was far more evil than mere greed.
To understand British actions in the Opium Wars, it is necessary to step back, and to place them in the context of modern history. The establishment of the nation-state, with the creation of France under Louis XI, as a project of the Golden Renaissance, allowed mankind to rise above a condition where 95% of the population lived little better than cattle. However, a financial oligarchy, centered in Venice, was bitterly committed to preserving feudalism. This Venetian oligarchy survived, and succeeded in capturing the Netherlands and England as the base for their operations.

The British East India Company (the “Company”) was one of the institutions created as a product of the Venetian takeover of England. The Levant Company, set up to trade with the East, had been formed in 1592 as a fusion of the Turkey Company and the Venice Company. In 1600, the East India Company was formed as a spin-off of the Levant Company. It received a perpetual charter from the British Monarchy for a monopoly on trade with the East Indies.

In 1740, the Company’s role in India was limited to trade through its centers at Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. By 1815, it had an army of 150,000 men, and governed most of India, either directly or indirectly. The Company utilized the vast superiority of European weapons to take over India in stages, through a series of wars. Its takeover was assisted by the collapse of power of the Indian Moghul Emperors, which left India broken up into sections, controlled by local rulers. By 1800, the main source of revenue, from Company operations in India, was land taxes, imposed on conquered lands.

Bengal was the first major area conquered by the Company. Its army defeated the native ruler in 1757, and proclaimed itself the official ruler of Bengal in 1765. It imposed incredibly harsh taxes. The province deteriorated rapidly. In 1770, the failure of monsoon rains, led to a famine in which an estimated one-third of the population perished.

Bengal then became the center of the East India Company’s opium monopoly.

The East India Company’s domination of the Indian economy was based on its private army. However, giving the lie to the radical “privatizers,” the ultimate muscle behind the company was the British military, as Lord Palmerston demonstrated by deploying it in the Opium Wars, to back up the British demand for “free trade.”

In the aftermath of the disastrous Bengal famine, the British Crown took control over the East India Company’s operations, and, under the India Act of William Pitt the Younger, in 1785, the Governor-General of India was made a Crown appointment. A six-member “Board of Control” was established in London to “superintend, direct and control” the Company’s possessions. On the Board were the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a Secretary of State, both ministers of the British Crown. From this period, the “free-trade” East India Company was, effectively, a semi-official branch of the British government, until it was finally formally dissolved in 1858.

The Company lost control of India with the Indian Revolt of 1857-58, when British troops poured in to crush the uprising. The British government, under Lord Palmerston, took direct control of India. Queen Victoria, who noted that most Englishmen felt “that India should belong to me,” was made Empress of India in 1877.

Adam Smith and Karl Marx:
Apologists for the Empire’s “Globalization”

Adam Smith, An apologist for
the British East India Company

The 19th Century was dominated by a battle between the supporters of the American System, on one side, and the British Empire, on the other. During the middle of the century, the circles around American economist, Henry Carey, fought for a series of projects to develop Asia, centered around railroads, as is described in the recent EIR cover-story, “The ‘land-bridge’: Henry Carey’s global development program.”

Had the Carey circles grand design not been sabotaged by the British Empire, all of Asia would have developed as dramatically as Japan, which escaped the control of the British, and formed an alliance with the Carey circles during the Meiji Restoration.

The science of economics, as embodied in the American System, was founded by Leibniz. The modern embodiment of this science, is found in the works of Lyndon LaRouche such as, So You Wish to Learn All About Economics: Successful human survival is guaranteed only when society organizes successive creative breakthroughs in science and technology, which are then applied economically, to increasing man’s power over nature, resulting in increases in the relative potential population density.

A successful society is characterized by a rising living standard for its population, increasing investment in factories and basic infrastructure, and the generation of additional surplus, which is invested in generating new discoveries in science and technology.

The British system denied any role for human creativity, and instead argued, that if man merely followed his hedonistic desires, pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain, objective laws would naturally guide society to achieve the best allocation of wealth. Bernard de Mandeville stated explicitly in his Fable of the Bees, that men, in following their hedonistic desires, even in pursuit of evil ends, would ensure the best result for society.

Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, followed this belief, that human behavior was best ordered by each man following his hedonistic desires to their lawful conclusion. He argued that opium was a legitimate product, the same as any other commodity, that the objective laws of the “invisible hand” must be allowed to determine all economic activity, and anything which stood in the way, such as national governments, were an obstacle which must be removed.

Smith, a propagandist for British colonialism, argued that human progress was advanced with the spread of this “free market” globally, through the expansion of the British Empire.

A similar defense of British colonialism was also advanced by Karl Marx. Marx has an undeserved reputation as an opponent of British imperialism, because his writings were designed to appeal to, and manipulate people, based on their grievances. Marx emigrated from Germany to England at age 30, where he became a dupe of British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston.

Palmerston dominated the British government from 1830 to 1865, and, was the central figure in efforts to make the British Empire into a new Roman Empire. He directed British strategy in the Opium Wars. He also kept a stable of radicals and terrorists for purposes of destabilizing other nations. (Eleven countries have recently denounced the British government for harboring terrorists, demonstrating that the British have continued this practice to this day.)

In Marx’s early writings, he adopted Aristotle’s definition of man as “a political animal,” even using the ancient Greek term, used by Aristotle. Consequently, he rejected the conception that man advances society through creative discovery, and instead argued that society advanced according to mechanistic laws through a natural progression, from ancient society, to feudalism, to capitalism, to socialism, to communism. Marx called Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, “an immense step forward” because it reduced the value of all economic activity to the value placed on it, by the universal free market.

Marx attacked Carey’s program for national economic development as a regression from Adam Smith. He rejected Henry Carey’s attack on “the diabolical influence of England on the world-market,” by claiming that it was simply, “the natural laws of capitalist production,” and attacked Carey’s plans for an alliance with Russia to defeat the British Empire by labeling him a “Russophile.”

Karl Marx Defends British Opium War

Karl Marx, who spent the majority of his
adult life living in London, England

Marx’s role as an apologist for the British Empire’s “globalization” is explicit in his defense of the British Empire’s rape of India. Marx advanced a Mandevillian argument, that, because “capitalism” is superior to “oriental despotism”, even though the intent and actions of British colonialism were evil, British colonialism benefitted India!

Even more explicit is Marx’s defense of Britain’s first Opium War. Amidst much bravado about the potential for world revolution, Marx praised the Opium War for throwing China into chaos. He claimed that Britain was advancing civilization in China, by destroying China’s old culture, and opening up China to the international economy. He even reported, approvingly, that British policies were causing such unemployment in China, that displaced Chinese workers were being used as slave labor throughout the world. Karl Marx wrote in a July 22, 1853 article in the New York Daily Tribune:

“Whatever be the social causes, and whatever religious, dynastic, or national shape they may assume, that have brought about the chronic rebellions subsisting in China for about ten years past, and now gathered together in one formidable revolution, the occasion of this outbreak has unquestionably been afforded by the English cannon forcing upon China that soporific drug called opium. Before the British arms the authority of the Manchu dynasty fell to pieces; the superstitious faith in the Eternity of the Celestial Empire broke down; the barbarous and hermetic isolation from the civilized world was infringed; and an opening was made for that intercourse which has since proceeded so rapidly under the golden attractions of California and Australia. At the same time the silver coin of the Empire, its life-blood, began to be drained away to the British East Indies.”

Reflecting the racism which dominated England, where the majority of the population enthusiastically supported the first Opium War (there were popular demonstrations against the second Opium War), Marx defends the British-forced addiction of China:

“It would seem as though history had first to make this whole people drunk before it could rouse them out of their hereditary stupidity.”

Marx even argued that the Chinese had a disposition for opium:

“The Chinese, it is true, are no more likely to renounce the use of opium than are the Germans to forswear tobacco.”

Henry Carey Refutes the British System

The devastating flaw in Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and all who claimed the British Empire was advancing more backward civilizations, was identified by Henry Carey: The British System is not capitalism. Rather, the British Empire, and its effects, can be best described by comparing them, to the oligarchy of the ancient Roman Empire, and the destruction which they wrought on the world. Carey presented a devastating expose of the British Empire in his 1853 book, The Slave Trade, Domestic & Foreign, Why it Exists & and How it May be Extinguished. He demonstrated that the British system violated the requirements for successful human survival, and, that opium production was a lawful result of the destructive nature of the British System.

Carey described how the Roman system was based on centralizing the power of governing and taxing. He showed how this led, lawfully, to exhaustion and collapse, resulting in a severe drop in population:

“Still onward the city grows, absorbing the wealth of the world, and with it grow the poverty, slavery, and rapacity of the people, the exhaustion of provinces, and the avarice and tyranny of rulers and magistrates, until at length the empire, rotten at the heart, becomes the prey of barbarians, and all become slaves alike,–thus furnishing proof conclusive that the community which desires to command respect for its own rights must practice respect for those of others; which lies at the base of all Christianity–‘Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you.’|”

Carey next showed that, while the British Empire strongly resembled these features of the Roman Empire, it was even more destructive, because it had also added commercial centralization. England was committed to enforcing a monopolistic control over the world economy, centralizing industry in England, and reducing the rest of the world to the production of raw materials, which were sold at prices dictated by England.

“England, on the contrary, has sought to restrict her subjects and the people of the world in their modes of employment; and this she has done with a view to compel them to make all their exchanges in her single market, leaving to her to fix the prices of all she bought and all she sold, thus taxing them at her discretion in both time and money.”

Benjamin Franklin had attacked this British policy 100 years earlier, and, correctly argued that the development of American manufactures, would improve the productivity of the British dominions, as a whole, and enrich both the Colonies and England. However, the Venetian oligarchy, firmly in control of England, was not interested in enriching nations, but rather, in consolidating and spreading their oligarchical system. So, Franklin recognized that a break with Venetian-controlled England was necessary.

Carey demonstrated, in graphic detail, that the British Empire’s system of “globalization” had devastating effects on India. Prior to the takeover of India by the East India Company, the Indian economy was characterized by the existence of native manufacture of cloth and other goods, which made possible a division of labor, and a higher level of productivity for the economy as a whole. The British demanded one-half of the gross product of the land, as tribute from the areas that they controlled, and imposed a tax collection system which severely disrupted the economy.

Even more deadly, the British imposed a policy of technological apartheid, banning the export of machinery, from England to India, and refusing to develop India’s rich iron and coal deposits. Taxes were imposed to deliberately suppress native manufacturing.

Carey stated:

“The Hindoo, like the negro, is shut out from the workshop. If he attempts to convert his cotton into yarn, his spindle is taxed in nearly all of the profit it can yield him. If he attempts to make cloth, his loom is subjected to a heavy tax, from which that of his wealthy English competitor is exempt. His iron ore and his coal must remain in the ground, and if he dares to apply his labour even to the collection of the salt which crystallizes before his door, he is punished by fine and imprisonment.”

The introduction of steam driven machinery, was used by the British to devastate India’s native cloth manufacturers, rather than to revolutionize Indian production. Although the steam engine had been developed by Benjamin Franklin’s collaborators, who intended that it be used to improve the productivity of labor, the British applied it to their slave labor system, filling the factories with workers, including children, who worked 15 to 17 hours a day.

Free Trade Destroys Indian Cloth Manufacturing

Carey describes how in 1813, British “free trade” removed tariffs on cloth imported into India, “but with the restriction on the export of machinery and artisans maintained in full force.” Within twenty years, Indian cloth manufacturing was completely wiped out. The result was not merely mass unemployment and starvation of cloth manufacturers, but the impoverishment of cotton cultivators, since cotton now had to be shipped all the way to England, and the British now had a monopoly control of cotton consumption.

Henry Carey demonstrated that this British looting had the effect of reducing the ability of India to support its population.

Carey also understood that the destructive nature of the British system contained an inherent tendency toward bankruptcy, requiring it to constantly find new sources of loot. The conquest of Bengal led to an initial surge in tax revenues. However, by 1815, the Company was 40 million pounds sterling in debt. The Company’s 150,000-strong army was consuming three-quarters of its annual budget. The looting of India had so severely damaged the Indian economy that taxes and revenues were declining. The Company’s major source of revenue was its China trade: tea paid for by opium.

As Carey stated:

“Calcutta grows, the city of palaces, but poverty and wretchedness grow as the people of India find themselves more and more compelled to resort to that city to make their exchanges…. Now, every man must send his cotton to Calcutta, thence to go to England with the rice and the indigo of his neighbours, before he and they can exchange food for cloth or cotton–and the larger the quantity they send the greater is the tendency to decline in price. With every extension of the system there is increasing inability to pay the taxes, and increasing necessity for seeking new markets in which to sell cloth and collect what are called rents–and the more wide the extension of the system the greater is the difficulty of collecting revenue sufficient for keeping the machine of government in motion. This difficulty it was that drove the representatives of British power and civilization into become traders in that pernicious drug, opium.”

The British East India Company’s Opium Monopoly

The East India Company established a monopoly over the production of opium, shortly after taking over Bengal. Before each growing season, Company officers went through the villages contracting with the peasants on how much acreage to plant, and making loans to cover costs. Indian peasants sold the opium juice to the Company, whence it was taken to the factory. The opium juice was processed into a form suitable for smoking, and formed into three pound cakes, which were then wrapped in poppy pedals. Forty of these cakes were loaded into chests, each stamped with the symbol of the East India Company.

In a completely transparent fraud of “free trade,” the Company then auctioned off these chests to “country traders,” (whom it pretended were independent), at roughly four times the cost of production. These traders were licensed by the Company, and in some cases financed by it. The Company would even give the “country traders” opium on consignment, and collect payment in Canton (Guangzhou) after the opium had been sold.

The great nation of China, which had cities of 1 million inhabitants, while the largest European city had only a population of 100,000, represented an enticing target. China’s population of 300 million was some 20 times that of England. The British Navy had complete superiority over the antiquated Chinese navy. However, occupying and garrisoning China was impossible.

What the British Will Never Forget

Were you to read the British press today, you would learn that the British Empire never forgets its defeats. Along with the defeat by Sudan of General Charles “Chinese” Gordon, killed in Khartoum in 1885, one of the nastiest setbacks ever suffered by the British, was the dismissal of their envoy, Lord Macartney by the Chinese Emperor in 1794. Hoping to “beat” the Russians and others to the China market, the British sent Macartney, with a large entourage, and ships full of trinkets, to attempt to entice the Emperor into opening China to British trade. But the Emperor decided, rightly, that the British had nothing to offer him, nor China, and, after ordering Macartney to “tremblingly obey,” sent him packing.

The British would follow the earlier example of the Dutch, who pacified Indonesia with opium: the Dutch East India Company began shipping opium to Java in 1659, and by the middle of the next century, 100 tons were arriving every year, in the city of Batavia, alone. The opium addicts and the corrupt officials who collected bribes to allow smuggling, effectively became allies with the British in subverting China. Opium had a devastating effect on the Chinese military, and on the Chinese intelligensia.

Although the Chinese had used opium as a medicine, there was no widespread addiction before the British arrived. The Portuguese had smuggled some opium to China. The first major shipment of opium, was arranged in 1781, by the Company’s Governor-General, Warren Hastings, who described opium as a “pernicious” commodity, “which the wisdom of the Government should carefully restrain from internal consumption.” It was a financial disaster. The opium was brought to Canton, the only city where the Chinese allowed foreigners to trade. The Chinese showed little interest, so the ship left without selling its opium. The Company lost a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

However, steady British smuggling paid off. By 1804, the revenues from opium sales to China, were sufficient to cover the cost of tea, imported from China. Between 1804 and 1806, $7 million were transferred out of China.

Until 1820, the Company practiced a policy of limiting opium shipments to less than 5,000 chests, sufficient to gain substantial loot, but calculated so as not to provoke a response from the Chinese.

However, the bankruptcy of the East India Company, and a strategy of more intensive looting of India, required a new, more destructive policy for China as well. In 1817, the British launched their “free trade” offensive against India, flooding it with English cloth, while blocking the development of Indian cloth manufacture. The British required increased sales of opium to pay for the shipments of cloth into India. The Company shifted to a policy of maximizing opium smuggling (and addiction, as well).

The Company even defended its policy, claiming that it was necessary to stop competition from other opium smugglers, declaring in 1819, that its policy was “to endeavour to secure the command of the Market by furnishing a Supply on so enlarged a scale and on such reasonable terms as shall prevent competition.”

The Chinese made a limited effort to stop opium smuggling in 1821. The British responded by moving the base of their opium-smuggling operations out of Canton, to the small island of Lintin inside Canton Bay, where the Chinese navy could not threaten it. The smugglers’ ships each carried about ten cannon, and were more powerful than any fleet which the Chinese Emperor could deploy against them. The trading companies anchored old ships off Lintin Island, which stored the opium until small ships smuggled it ashore. The opium trade increased from 4,244 chests in the 1820-21 season to 18,956 by 1830-31. By 1831, the opium trade into China was two-and-a-half times greater than the tea trade. It was probably the largest trade in a single commodity anywhere in the world.

William Jardine: “Iron-Headed Old Rat”

The largest of the “country traders” was Jardine, Matheson & Co. William Jardine and James Matheson formed a partnership in 1828. Matheson was the first to see the potential of smuggling along the entire Chinese coast. Matheson blamed the Chinese dislike for “free trade” to their “marvellous degree of imbecility and avarice, conceit and obstinacy.” Jardine was nicknamed “Iron-Headed Old Rat” by the Chinese. He advocated making Formosa an offshore base for the Western powers. He was also one of the most vocal advocates for war, stating:

“Obtain us but a sale for our goods, and we will supply any quantity…. Nor indeed should our valuable commerce and revenue both in India and Great Britain be permitted to remain subject to a caprice which a few gunboats laid alongside this city would overrule by the discharge of a few mortars…. The results of a war with China could not be doubted.”

Both returned to England, and became members of Parliament. Matheson used his opium fortune to become the second largest landholder in Great Britain, and was made a Baron by Queen Victoria.

One obstacle to war, was Sir George Robinson, the British Superintendent of Trade in Canton. He applied to England for orders, which would authorize him to stop British opium smuggling, which, of course, he never received. He suggested, in February 1836, that “a more certain method would be to prohibit the growth of the poppy and manufacture of opium in British India.” He was fired by Palmerston, then British Foreign Secretary, for this.

Robinson’s replacement was Captain Charles Elliot of the Royal Navy, who had been spying all along on Robinson for Palmerston. Elliot had previously been involved in designing the plan for “freeing” the slaves throughout the British Empire, which Henry Carey exposed, as being carried out in such a way, as to have what he termed “disastrous consequences.” In Jamaica, following an “emancipation” of the slaves, the effect was to drive down wages and living standards for both the former slaves, and imported Indian laborers.

By the late 1830’s, there was no doubt that opium was leading to the destruction of China. By 1836, opium shipments were more than 30,000 chests, enough to supply 12.5 million smokers. The Chinese imperial army lost a battle against local rebels because the army was addicted to opium. The financial drain on China was disrupting the entire economy. From 1829 to 1840, Chinese exports had brought in 7 million silver dollars, but imports, mainly opium had drained 56 million. The loss of silver was disrupting the internal economy leading to increased unrest.

Lin Zexu, appointed by the Emperor to stop the opium traffic, stated:.

“a few decades from now we shall not only be without soldiers to resist the enemy, but also in want of silver to provide an army.”

The Chinese launched a ruthless campaign in 1838 to wipe out opium consumption, which, the British complained bitterly, was having an affect. Thousands of Chinese opium merchants were arrested. “We have never seen so serious a persecution, or one so general,” protested William Jardine. By January 1840, Captain Elliot informed London that, “the stagnation of the opium traffic … may be said to have been nearly complete for the last four months.”
Lin Zexu was appointed by the Chinese Emperor, High Commissioner to investigate port affairs, on December 31, 1839. He deployed sufficient military force to drive the opium traffickers from Lintin Island. They redeployed to a barren island further out, named Hongkong. Lin Zexu also demanded that the British smugglers hand over their stockpiles of opium, and sign a bond pledging not to smuggle more opium under penalty of death.

Lin sent a letter to Queen Victoria appealing to her to stop the opium traffic. He told Queen Victoria:

“this poisonous article is manufactured by certain devilish persons in places subject to your rule…. What is here forbidden to consume, your dependencies must be forbidden to manufacture.”

Lin stated that he believed that opium was banned in England. In fact, opium was freely supplied to the poor in England, who were working under slave labor conditions, similar to those the British had imposed throughout the rest of their Empire.

The behavior Captain Charles Elliot was accurately described by James Matheson:

“To a close observer, it would seem as if the whole of Elliot’s career were expressly designed to lead on the Chinese to commit themselves, and produce a collision… I suppose war with China will be the next step.”

Creating a Pretext for War

Elliot sought to establish a pretext for war other than the defense of opium, arguing that the issue was the Chinese demand that British merchants be subject to “barbaric” Chinese law. He instructed British merchants to hand over their, in fact, unsalable opium stockpiles, with the promise that the British government would reimburse them for their loss. In perhaps the biggest drug-bust in history, Lin destroyed 20,283 chests, or 2.5 million pounds seized from British smugglers.

Elliot then deployed the British forces at hand to create a series of incidents with the Chinese, which could be used to rally support back in England for the planned war.

While Matheson continued the company’s smuggling operations from the new base at Hongkong, Jardine was sent to London, as the representative of all the opium smugglers, to rally support for war. The propaganda he spread in London, was that honest British merchants were being besieged, imprisoned, deprived of food, and actually threatened with death. He rallied British cotton merchants that war was necessary to “open China” to imports of British cloth.

Matheson met with Palmerston to plan strategy and supply information, obtained through his smuggling operations, on Chinese geography, which was crucial for British military operations.

The British sent a fleet of 16 men-of-war, four armed steam ships, and transport ships carrying 4,000 Scottish, Irish and Indian troops, which arrived in June of 1840. The Chinese were totally unprepared. The Imperial army was really only a police force, designed to put down internal revolts. Although the Chinese had invented gunpowder, their artillery was little more effective than fireworks. Their guns were mounted solidly in their forts or ships and could not be aimed. Although they desperately tried to innovate, during the wars which followed, the Chinese lacked the science, or the industrial base necessary to match a British military, well-schooled in slaughtering defenseless populations.

The British carried out a series of attacks on Chinese cities using the fleet to destroy obsolete Chinese fortifications, and then threaten the cities with destruction unless they paid ransom. The British moved cannon to the edge of Canton, and forced the city to pay a ransom of $6 million. Shanghai paid $300,000, ransom but was still severely looted.

Typical was the capture of the Island of Chou-shan and its capital, Tin-hai. The British used broadsides from the fleet to demolish the fleet of 11 war junks and an obsolete shore battery. The Chinese militia of 1,600 fled the bombardment. British troops were landed unopposed on the beach, which was scattered with dead bodies, bows and arrows, spears, and obsolete matchlock rifles. The Madras Artillery mounted four cannon on a hill, and began shelling the defenseless town, forcing the residents to flee. Soon, the soldiers discovered that the town was stocked with rice wine. Drunken soldiers and sailors pillaged the burning town until there was nothing left to steal or destroy.

The British sent a fleet up the Yangtze River to cut the Grand Canal and attack Nanking. All of Beijing’s food supply was brought by boat up the Grand Canal. The force, now numbering around 12,000, sailed up the river, attacking cities along the way, or forcing them to buy immunity. When the British force arrived in Nanking, the Chinese Emperor sued for peace.

By this time, Captain Elliot had been replaced by Sir Henry Pottinger. Elliot had been denounced for being too soft on the Chinese, because he had been willing to settle the war for only $6 million as compensation for the destroyed opium, and possession of Hongkong. His liberal reputation still intact, he was sent to his next assignment, as the British representative to the newly independent Republic of Texas.

Lord Palmerston had given Sir Henry Pottinger precise written instructions about opium. He was “strongly to impress upon the Chinese plenipotentiaries … how much it would be to the interest of that Government to legalize the trade.”

The Chinese refused to even discuss the legalization of opium. The Emperor responded: “Gain-seeking and corrupt men will for profit and sensuality defeat my wishes, but nothing will induce me to derive a revenue from the vice and misery of my people.”

In the Treaty of Nanking, signed on August 29, 1842, China agreed to pay an indemnity of $21 million and cede Hongkong to Britain. The ports of Canton, Shanghai, Ningpo, Amoy and Fuzhou were declared open for trade, and Chinese tariffs were limited to 5%. Foreigners in these “treaty ports” were not subject to Chinese laws. Finally, British warships could anchor in the “treaty ports” and could enter any Chinese port “when the interests of trade demanded.” The Chinese were quickly forced to sign similar treaties with France and the United States.

In the period following the first Opium War, Hongkong was avoided by tea or silk traders, and instead served as a center for opium smuggling, gambling, prostitution and piracy. The Governor of Hongkong reported that “almost every person possessed of capital who is not connected with government employ is employed in the opium trade.”

Hongshang: Central Bank for the Opium Trade

The Hongkong economy has continued to be dominated by opium money, as it developed into a model for the success of British “free enterprise” methods. The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank (“Hongshang”), the closest thing to a Central Bank that exists in the “free enterprise” Hongkong economy, was founded with opium money.

The first Opium War was followed by a second in 1856-60. The British were joined by the French as junior partners, the French having appointed themselves the “protectors” of China’s Catholics. The combined British and French forces looted and destroyed the Emperor’s Summer Palace.

In the treaty ending the second Opium War, the Chinese were forced to accept the legalization of opium. With Chinese resistance broken, large scale opium production in China was begun, supposedly to stop the drain on silver caused by opium imports. Both imports and domestic production soared, with imports reaching 105,508 chests by 1880. It is conservatively estimated, that China’s opium-addicts numbered between 30 and 40 million, at that time.

Parallel to this, the British gained a stranglehold on the Chinese economy and government finances. In 1853, the British were able to grab control of Chinese Customs in Shanghai, because of the Taiping revolt. Twenty years later, all Chinese customs were managed by the British, with all Customs Houses of China within reach of British shells. For 40 years after 1860, Britain dominated China’s commerce. By 1895, China’s trade with Britain’s represented two-thirds of all China trade, which then totalled 53.2 million pounds sterling.

Opium remained at the head of the list, averaging 10 million pounds sterling a year during the 1880’s. By 1900, a great part of government revenues went to pay indemnities, imposed on China by various “peace” treaties.

Opium went hand-in-hand with foreign conquest and revolution. China was rapidly broken apart by the centrifugal forces introduced by the effects of British looting. From 1850 to 1860, China was racked by revolts by the Taiping and Triad gangs. Deaths from the chaos are estimated to have been several tens of millions. Many provinces lost more than half their population. By 1916, China was so shattered, that when nationalists around Sun Yat-sen attempted to set up a Republic, the greatest problem was to unite the country. China had been broken apart by competing war lords, a condition similar to India just prior to the British conquest.

Throughout the early 20th century, Japan, which was the British Empire’s key ally in Asia, launched repeated attacks on China. The Japanese used British methods, including the bombing of civilians in Shanghai in 1932, and the use of dope. The Japanese ran huge amounts of drugs, including heroin, into occupied Manchuria, and by 1944, opium addicts there were estimated around 13 million, or one-third of the population.

This was the heritage of Hongkong.

With the British lease on the “New Territories” part of the Colony running out, in the early 1980s, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping demanded the return of the entire colony, including Hongkong island, which had been ceeded “in perpetuity,” on the basis of China’s national sovereignty. The British had little to stand on, and were forced to come to an agreement.


In the intervening years, the policy of the Chinese government has been to integrate Hongkong–one of the two largest container ports in the world–into the Chinese economy. The new Beijing-Kowloon railroad has just been opened, linking Hongkong with central and north China, and enabling Hongkong’s port to play an urgently needed role in opening and developing the Chinese economy.

In May 1996, Helga Zepp-LaRouche presented LaRouche’s concept of using the Eurasian Land-Bridge as the basis for global economic reconstruction to a government-sponsored Symposium on the Land-Bridge in Beijing.

It is through this economic reconstruction, that the drug-running, looting policies of the British empire, will finally be defeated.

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