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The Opium War and China

As virtues of human dignity and freedom began to surface, the death penalty became a less prevalent method of punishment. However, capital punishment in China is still administered to offenders involved in drug trafficking.

For instance, a British man was executed in China for dealing drugs. Human rights’ groups, the convict’s family, and the Prime Minister of Britain appealed for clemency on the grounds of the convict being mentally ill. Nonetheless, carrying a suitcase full of heroine was deemed unacceptable and China’s highest court rejected the appeal and permitted the execution.

Despite criticism, the Chinese government has its own justification for showing no mercy in penalizing drug related crimes. The Opium Wars taught China to be relentless against drugs. The Opium Wars were two commercial wars during the mid-19th century between Western nations and China.

The First Opium War (1839~42) was fought between Great Britain and China. Unbalanced trade between the two countries eventually sparked a war. Chinese goods were in high demand in European countries. However, Western goods were not welcomed in China because of its self-sufficient policy. Europeans finally came across a product that the Chinese would want: highly addictive opium. Because the Chinese Emperor forbade opium, smuggling of the drug was rampant. As the number of opium addicts increased in China, it became economically beneficial to Western nations and socially detrimental to China.

Chinese officials tried to curb the spread of opium. Approximately 1.21 million kilograms of opium was confiscated from British traders. China enforced its prohibition on the importation of opium. Great Britain responded by sending battleships to attack coastal cities. China was defeated and forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. It was an unequal treaty from the Chinese perspective. China was forced to open five ports for British trade. Hong Kong was ceded to the British. Subsequently, other Western countries signed similar treaties with China and Western domination began.

The Second Opium War (1856~60) began after the Chinese conducted an illegal search of a British-registered ship, the Arrow. Chinese authorities argued that the Arrow was a pirate ship and had no reason to sail with the British flag. The British were offended by the search and sent warships to bombard the Canton region.

The conflict escalated when British and French troops took over port cities. Russia and the United States joined in and forced the Chinese to accept the treaty of Tianjin (1858). China was required to open 11 more ports and legalize the import of opium. After continuous conflict, the treaty was ratified and the war was concluded.

Although the conflict has ended, the effects are still visible. From the two drug-related wars, China learned to never underestimate the danger of drugs. Even though the death penalty is not practiced in most countries, China believes that drug trafficking is so serious that the death penalty is a reasonable punishment.

질문&어휘 문법TIPs 해석
questions

1 Instead of starting wars, what are alternative ways of solving unfair trade? 


2 What is your opinion on capital punishment? 

3 How do you think drug trafficking should be dealt with? 

4 Explain the meaning of the underlined part.

vocabularies

prevalent 일반적인


relentless 가차없는

smuggling 밀수

rampant 걷잡을 수 없는

curb 제한하다

confiscate 몰수하다

cede 양도하다 

bombard 공격을 퍼붓다 

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