China Exacts Its Revenge from Morphine Economics

Morphine Economics

At one time, Western nations treated China like a poor stepchild, even going to the point of illicitly providing opium to its citizens enabling a terrible addiction. After President Obama’s recent Asian debacle, China now treats the US like the poor stepchild. Now it is America that is hooked on the sinister drug of Morphine Economics and it is largely China providing the US the drug that is making us weaker each day.

Here’s an historical perspective.

Low demand for British goods in China and high demand for Chinese goods such as silk and tea in Britain during the 17th century forced the British traders to purchase these products with silver and gold, the only currency accepted by the Chinese. The British quickly began accumulating a large trade deficit that it could not sustain. They needed to find an economic substitute for the silver and gold, but one that would come with greatly reduced prices. The solution although illegal, was to begin smuggling opium into China from the plentiful poppy fields of the Indo-Gangetic plain. Despite Emperor Qing’s prohibition of importing opium to China, it wasn’t long before Chinese society, including government officials, became addicted to the opium, from which morphine is derived.

Raw opium contains some twenty different alkaloids of which morphine is one. It affects the central nervous system. It also impairs mental and physical performance, relieves fear and anxiety, and produces euphoria. Morphine’s euphoric effect is highly addictive. Tolerance (the need for higher and higher doses to maintain the same effect) and the physical and physiological dependence develop quickly. The malevolent outcome of morphine addiction is that it masks any underlying health problems, so while someone may actually be dying, the euphoria deadens the pain until the person succumbs to the disease.

This addiction to opium in China ultimately lead to the Opium Wars with the British Empire from 1839-1842 and from 1856-1860. China was routed in both of these wars. Britain forced upon a feeble China the Treaty of Nanjing and the Treaty of Tianjin, more commonly referred to us the Unequal Treaties. The British gained extraterritorial rights including its settlement in Shanghai and the ceding of Hong Kong Island from which to freely operate its trading activities, including the unrestricted importation of opium.

Several other countries including France, Germany, Russia and Japan demanded from China and received similar arrangements. The humiliation and sentiments caused by the unequal treaties eventually lead to the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912 and ultimately the end of dynastic rule. China had fallen so low from the heights of one of the greatest empires every assembled to being prostate before the hated foreigners in just 40 years. It is one of the most rapid declines of any empire in the history of world, and largely attributed to the opium which caused China to sacrifice its dignity and pride.

China’s addiction erased centuries of glory and unleashed a thirty year revolution. It allowed for things like the Rape of Nanjing, the communist takeover in 1949 and purges of the Cultural Revolution to take place. By its end, it created the conditions where China’s citizens lived under foreign sovereignty in its own country.

You could say that China’s downfall could be attributed to “Morphine Economics.” If you study China’s sad history throughout the 19th and 20th centuries you can certainly understand their distrust of the West. China has passed through decades that no great nation should ever have to tolerate. China’s addiction should have served as a cold, stark warning.

Yet while Morphine Economics ended in China, another nation fell under its deadly spell: The United States of America. As the economy eroded, the US began accumulating mountains of debt. It had become our morphine. We borrow money to pay debts today, unfazed by the legacy of the debt that we will face down the road. The euphoria of appearing to have the economy under control masks the worthless “vapor paper” currency that is being printed to stave off an economic collapse.

The ultimate irony of course, is that while the US is being crushed by its runaway debt, it is being bought up by China — a nation that innately understands the perils of Morphine Economics. The world has come full circle. Now China assumes the role of senior partner with the US – a humiliation of our own making.

I think Emperor Qianlong, from wherever he rests with his ancestors, gets no satisfaction from seeing a mighty nation make the same mistakes he did. It is up to us to learn the lesson and reverse our dependence on Morphine Economics before it causes irreparable damage to the economic health of our country and that of our future generations.

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