Elisabeth Hope Murray
The East India Trading Company (EITC) was one of the first companies to establish a monopoly over goods traded around the world. The EITC spread goods that were typically only found where they originated, such as tea, spices, and opium.
The Chinese had access to poppy before the EITC began importing it, and when China levied a ban on opium being imported China, the EITC ignored it and continued to profit off China’s opium addiction. The EITC, and Britain, saw the ban, and the actions taken by China to enforce the ban, as an act of war and reacted as such. This then lead to the first of the two Opium Wars. With the conclusion of each war, the EITC gained more access to open trade in China through the Treaty of Nanjing (First Opium War) and then the Treaty of Tianjin (Second Opium War).
While the Opium Wars did not lead to the fall of the EITC directly, the abuse shown to the Chinese people through the treaties that China was forced to sign at the end of both wars most definitely started it. A revolt broke out in the opium fields of India among the enslaved people there, and instead of the EITC giving into their demands, the EITC slaughtered them. This lead to Britain refusing to renew the EITC’s contracts of the monopolies that they held: first their foothold of trade control in Asia, more specifically China, and second their monopoly of the opium trade in India. This dried up the EITC’s resources as far as money, and ultimately led to their disbandment in 1857.
Scholarly Commons Citation
Barrett, C. (2017). The EITC’s Fall and the Opium Wars. , (). Retrieved from https://commons.erau.edu/student-works/9