By Professor Harry G. Gelber (auth.)
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Additional resources for Opium, Soldiers and Evangelicals: England’s 1840–42 War with China and its Aftermath
The earnings from the China trade helped to support the entire British position in the Far East and, most especially, in British India, whose Palmerston’s England, the World and China 37 balance of payments came to depend on it. By the early years of the nineteenth century, India seems to have had an annual trade surplus with Canton of approximately $5 million. Which meant, in turn, that much of India’s ability to absorb exports from Britain herself came to depend on funds from China, by way of bills on London.
4 London should send out an experienced diplomat to negotiate directly with Beijing. He should arrive with, at least, a couple of Royal Navy frigates, and explain to the Chinese how easy it would be to put a stop to China’s entire coastal trade. Such a display, said the memorial, far from being likely to lead to conflict, would be the surest way of avoiding it. The envoy should also demand an end to the Cohong monopoly, an extension of Chinese trading facilities to other ports, and reparation for the insults offered to Napier.
9 He thought that Napier had failed because of his own pretensions to exalted official rank. He thought, as Wellington had done, that existing trading conditions were quite tolerable and that in matters of protocol Chinese rules should be accepted until a better modus vivendi emerged. ’ Conciliation would achieve everything needed. Britain should not send out a high official, or make a demonstration of force, unless some specific cause arose. Nor would a formal treaty be much use, since the Chinese were very good at interpreting any text as might suit them.