Hong Kong history: the fortunes built on opium – including those of many of its richest families

Jason Wordie::

Opium – for numerous economic and political reasons – has loomed large in Asia for more than three centuries. Importation from India to China and the wider balance-of-trade dynamics, regional power struggles and eventual international conflicts that surrounded the trade have generated entire libraries of historical research.

Young American’s first-hand account of second opium war: bloody battles and ‘hospitable’ Chinese

Less acknowledged – especially by inter­net trolls who, like Pavlov’s dogs, salivate and bark at the slightest mention of the so-called opium wars – is the basic historical fact that virtually everyone involved in 18th- and 19th-century commerce on the China coast was connected with the trade. Individuals or firms were either directly involved or they brokered deals, banked or arranged letters of credit, or were tangled up in the shipping, refining and warehousing of opium, or its retail sale.