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China – The First Opium War, 1839-42

8. The Consequences of the First Opium War

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about how the historiography of the Opium War in China, focusing in particular on the widespread discontent with the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War and the idea that the Opium War – and opium itself – was responsible for China's 'Century of Humiliation' between 1839 and 1949.


In this course, Dr Lars Laamann (SOAS) explores the First Opium War, 1839-42. The course begins by considering the history of trade between China and the West from the 1st century BC to the mid-17th century AD. After that, we turn to the system that was put in place by the Chinese authorities to regulate trade with the West in the 17th and 18th centuries, before moving on in the third and fourth modules to explore the growth of the opium trade to China in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In the fifth module, we think about why opium was so popular in China, as well as why some sections of society were so opposed to it, before turning in the sixth module to consider some of the interpretations of why this disagreement between the Chinese and the British escalated into full-scale war. In the seventh module, we trace the progress of the war, including the intense diplomatic efforts made by both sides throughout the war, culminating in the Treaty of Nanking (1842), which ended the war. In the final module, we think about the consequences of the war, focusing in particular on the importance of the war in what the Chinese would later call the 'Century of Humiliation' and on current relations between China and the West.


Dr Lars Laamann is a Lecturer in the History of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. He specialises in the history of imperial China, including popular religion, medicine, drugs and healing and Manchu culture in the Qing empire. His publications include Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs in China (co-authored with Frank Dikotter and Xun Zhou, 2004) and Christian Heretics in Late Imperial China (2006).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Laamann, L. (2018, August 15). China – The First Opium War, 1839-42 - The Consequences of the First Opium War [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Laamann, L. "China – The First Opium War, 1839-42 – The Consequences of the First Opium War." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,