Monday, March 17, 2008

Afghan Poppy Trade vs The Opium Wars

If hearing about the bumper Afghan poppy crop being used to fund international terrorism - disturbs you- fear not. The British did a similar thing in China a few hundred years ago- now they're the very model of modern international righteousness.

In order to continue purchasing an enormous amount of tea - the 'East India Company' required enormous amounts of silver (as the Chinese weren't interested in anything else). The genius solution was to grow opium in India, and sell it through the black market into China in exchange for silver.

This silver was transported half way around the world back to the UK- before being shipped back to pay for the tea.

When the Chinese attempted to stop this trade, the British declared war!

I discovered all this in an excellent book : "A History of the World in Six Glasses"- that traces the history of beer (neolithic), wine (Greek & Roman), spirits, tea, coffee and cola. The author suggests drinking the appropriate beverage whilst reading each section.

5/5 Good Work Tom Standage.

1 comment:

  1. How about the Natzi counterfeit scheme? The skipped the whole "real money" part and just bolstered ther coffers with denominations of varying international currency. There is even a movie out about it now: The Counterfeiters


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