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Not for all the tea in China

Posted by RRC on May 02, 2008 at 14:49:

In Reply to: Not for all the tea in China posted by Mark W on May 02, 2008 at 13:24:

: Not for all the tea in China? After reading this phrase on this site I have become slightly confused. I thought the saying came from the following. British authorities discovered the poppy seed in China and later flooded China with cocaine. In the process they dominated the tea market. After this the Chinese race became an unfit race, from very fit, because of the use of the poppy seed by the British. This quote is used in a Bruce Lee movie - Enter the Dragon. I was told this from a very young age and would like to know if this is the correct story?

As I understand it, the British did encourage opium use in China, but it was because there was a trade imbalance - the British were buying more things from China than they could find other things to sell back.

Some detail problems: Opium originated in the Middle East and was in use in Europe and the Mediterranean thousands of years befor the time in question. The British were importing opium into China, they didn't find it there. Cocaine is from the South American coca plant. At the time in question (1700's through the Opium Wars of the mid-1800's), people were using "raw" opium not the refined versions like heroin or morphine. Morphine was first isolated in 1804 but didn't come into wide-spread use until the invention of the hypodermic needle in 1853. Heroin wasn't developed until 1874. At the time, morphine was considered a "cure" for opium addiction.