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Thursday, 12 February 2015

This Is How HSBC Celebrates 150 Years of Banking Crime & Corruption: Happy Birthday

Wolf Street

HSBC still operates with full UK-government-sanctioned impunity.

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET. His blog: Raging Bull-Shit

I’d like to begin with one of the most ignominious – and hence most forgotten – episodes of British colonial history: the Opium Wars against China.

In the mid 19th century the British economy was close to bankruptcy, thanks mainly to its massive trade deficit with China. Put simply, the British couldn’t stop drinking Chinese-produced tea while the Chinese government had no interest in importing anything from Britain. The Manchu emperors believed that the Middle Kingdom already possessed everything worth having, and hence needed no barbarian manufactures. All they wanted was silver, of which the British were fast running out.

What the British did, through its East India Company, one of the world’s largest-ever monopolies, was to flood the Chinese market with the one product the Chinese couldn’t resist and which just happened to be cultivated across vast swaths of British-ruled India: opium. So doing, the British East India Company became the largest-ever drug trafficker in recorded history.

When opium addiction became a national pastime in China, the government tried to ban consumption of the drug, but to no avail. Demand just kept growing, and with it supply. Eventually the Chinese began targeting the trade at its source, seizing shipments from British ships as they docked in ports such as Canton. The British response was to hit back with the full force of its world-leading navy. So began the Opium Wars and China’s Century of Humiliation.

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