Tea, Opium and Hong Kong - the China Trade

Lecture by Dr Patrick Conner

Monday 19 October 2015 at 8 pm

Fine tea has long been prized in China: according to Lu Yu in c.780, it should

‘unfold like mist rising out of a ravine’. By 1750 tea was China’s principal export to Britain, valued as a remedy for indigestion, amnesia and excess of alcohol. But what would China accept in return? Only opium - from the British-owned poppy fields of India - found a ready market in China. Following the ‘Opium War’ of 1839-42, Hong Kong was ceded to Britain. Blending Chinese and Western elements, Hong Kong developed in dramatic fashion. The story is illustrated with vivid paintings by Chinese and Western artists.