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Thread: How the British craving for tea led to the bombing of Hiroshima

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post How the British craving for tea led to the bombing of Hiroshima

    In his book The River at the Centre of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time the author, Simon Winchester, explains how the Opium Wars with Britain weakened Imperial China, forced it open some ports to foreign powers, including to the Japanese. He carries on . (p. 177) : "It is by no means stretching things to say that the opium trade led more or less directly to the dropping of the atomic bomb as well - for once the Japanese had found themselves able to defeat the war-weakened Chinese at battle, to annex Manchuria and to invade and occupy fully half of the Empire, so they found an increasing confidence in their own belief that they should rule the Pacific, and began promptly to try to do so, overrunning Malaya and Burma, bombing Pearl Harbor."

    The Opium Wars had their roots in the tea trade between China and Britain, which had started in 1657. The British had originally exchanged copper for tea, as China needed little else from the outside world. Tea became immensely popular in England and consumption and imports skyrocketed. But nearly bankrupt by its European wars, Britain was contrived to seek an alternative form of payment for tea. This is how the East India Company thought of selling Indian opium to the Chinese. All this in the name of tea.

    This is how the British passion for the Chinese leaves led to the fall of the Manchu dynasty, the creation of European, American and Japanese colonies in coastal China, then the Pacific war between Japan, Britain and the USA, which ended with the nuclear razing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Had the Brits not liked tea so much, WWII in East Asia might have been averted, the Communist wouldn't rule China, and history would have been very different.

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    Never underestimate the power of market demand. Tea was a bit like petrol today. What I want to know is why the British fell in love with tea and not coffee like other Europeans ?

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