Between 1856 and 1860, several battles of the Opium Wars were fought in and around Shandong between Great Britain and China. After being ruled by Japan from 1895 to 1945, Shandong has served as a province of China since 1946. The Chinese have been good stewards over more than five thousand years with their agricultural innovations such as irrigation systems for flood control
and soil enrichment. They have learned how to work with nature rather than fight against it.
In the early 1800s, traders fromBritain (and some from other countries) supplied large quantities of opium to China. Opium is the naturally occurring drug known as an opiate. Today, it is used to make the synthetic opioid, heroin, but it was a popular recreational drug in China back then. Historians estimate that about 25% of Chinese men were addicted to opium. The Chinese government tried to restrict opium trade and distribution for the better part of a century. The tipping point came in 1839 when the Chinese seized and destroyed several hundred tons of smuggled opium fromBritish traders in Guangdong. The British eventually retaliated by attacking Canton (now Guangzhou), igniting a two-year war which they ultimately won. As part of the treaty ending the war, the British took control of Hong Kong. Fourteen years later, tensions escalated again when the Chinese boarded a British ship and arrested its crew. The British retaliated by using a warship to shell Canton. The Chinese then burned several European warehouses in the city. A second opium war broke out, with the French joining the British in attacking China. It ended with the Europeans capturing the Chinese capital Beijing in 1860.
Chapter 1: Shandong
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