Seshata Sensi

JOURNALIST, CONSULTANT & PHOTOGRAPHER

How the Global Economy Depends on Illegal Drug Money – Part II: Trade Routes, Empire, & the “Narco-State”

Source: Sensi Seeds

Drugs have been traded between countries for centuries, and laws have been passed banning their sale or consumption for perhaps as long. The early history of the drug trade is patchy, but from the 17th century onwards there is plenty of evidence of a flourishing international trade – as well as plenty of efforts to stamp it out.

Colonialism, Drugs & the Balance of Power

British, Portuguese, French, Spanish and Dutch interests had been competing for control of key Asian territories and trading routes for over a century by this time. Among their territories, the Portuguese had control of Goa, and the Dutch controlled Bengal – which happened to be two very important opium-producing regions.

It’s important to note that at this time, the European governments were only indirectly involved in this emerging international trade network. The principal actors were the merchants of the East India Companies – collectives of traders with indirect support from their respective governments.

By the late 17th century, the Portuguese and British East India Companies were transporting opium to Canton (Guangzhou – the principal Chinese seaport at the time) from Goa, while the Dutch East India Company had established a monopoly on the opium trade between Bengal and China.

The Chinese empire was an important regional power, with which Europe had an imbalanced trading relationship. The Chinese exported vast quantities of valuable goods to Europe, but had little need for European products in return. But opium sales represented a highly effective means of acquiring Chinese silver to offset the European deficit, and at first, the Chinese were happy to buy it.

Then, due to concerns over rising numbers of addicts and declining silver revenues, China passed a law banning the sale of opium in 1729. However, this did not stop the trade, merely…

Please click here to read this article: How the Global Economy Depends on Illegal Drug Money – Part II: Trade Routes, Empire, & the “Narco-State”

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