Merchants of War and Peace challenges conventional arguments that the major driving forces of the First Opium War were the infamous opium smuggling trade, the defence of British national honour, and cultural conflicts between ‘progressive’ Britain and ‘backward’ China. Instead, it argues that the war was started by a group of British merchants in the Chinese port of Canton in the 1830s, known as the ‘Warlike party’. Living in a period when British knowledge of China was growing rapidly, the Warlike party came to understand China’s weakness and its members returned to London to lobby for intervention until war broke out in 1839.
Hardback: 240 pages
Size: 15 X 22.5cm