World Trade Review for AP World History (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

Qing China and the Opium Trade

In 1644, the weakened Ming dynasty was overtaken by the Manchus, a largely nomadic people who lived north of the Great Wall. The new dynasty, calling itself Qing, lifted Ming restrictions against foreign travel. Chinese merchants took an increasingly active part in overseas trade, and foreign merchants traded with China through the port of Canton. Trade in Chinese tea, silk, and porcelain brought in large quantities of silver, which was the basis of the Chinese economy. By the nineteenth century, international trade based in southern China was especially profitable.

One of China's chief trading partners, Great Britain, became increasingly concerned over having to pay large amounts of silver for Chinese luxury goods. British merchants solved the trade imbalance by trading Indian opium to China. Indian opium, which was of a higher quality than Chinese-grown opium, took such a hold on Chinese society that soon the Chinese were forced to pay for the product with large quantities of their silver. In addition to this trade reversal, millions of Chinese became addicted to opium, a situation that affected work and family responsibilities. When the Qing emperor took measures to block the opium trade, war broke out in 1839 between China and Great Britain. British victory in the Opium War and another conflict in the 1850s resulted in the opening of China to European trade. The Treaty of Nanking (1842) that ended the Opium War made Hong Kong a British colony and opened up five ports to foreign commerce instead of only the port of Canton. Opium continued to flow into China. By 1900, more than ninety ports were open to foreign trade. Foreign spheres of influence were drawn up in China; within these territories, the controlling nation enjoyed special trade privileges as well as the right of extraterritoriality.

Russia and World Trade

Russia continued to occupy a backward position in trade and technology. The Russians exported some grain to western Europe in exchange for Western machinery. By 1861, the desire to compete with Western nations in world trade prompted Russia to emancipate its serfs. Still, Russia lagged behind in export crops as the emancipation of the serfs left a labor force that used outdated agricultural methods.

Japanese Entrance into World Trade

The second Perry expedition to Japan in 1854 opened two ports to trade with the UnitedStates. Later, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Russia initiated trade relations with Japan. As Japan industrialized, it depended on imports of raw materials, especially coal, and of Western equipment.

The End of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

The combination of Enlightenment thought, religious conviction, and a slave revolt in Haiti led to the end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The British ended their participation in the slave trade in 1807, then worked to get the cooperation of other slave importers to the Americas to end their part in the slave trade. While Britain seized hundreds of slave ships, Cuba and Brazil, with the cooperation of African rulers, continued to import huge numbers of slaves. The trans-Atlantic slave trade did not end until 1867.

Rapid Review

Although the trade in human beings across the Atlantic was coming to an end, other avenues of trade appeared worldwide. Latin America, Russia, the Islamic world, and Japan developed an increased dependency on Western technology. China saw its favorable balance of trade reversed as its silver supply was diminished to purchase Indian opium from Great Britain. By the beginning of the twentieth century, European products dominated global trade routes.

Review questions for this study guide can be found at:

World Trade Review Questions for AP World History

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