Though it might be better known these days as a hub of cheap clothing and streets lined with Muslim walnut cakes, Humen, a town in Dongguan, China might be most (in-)famous as the riverside battleground of the Opium War(s). Long story short, in the late 1830s, opium traders from the United Kingdom (and eventually, the US) bribed their way into selling the addicting South Asian drug to Chinese merchants in Humen, A Qing Dynasty official by the name of Lin Zexu entered the port city and demanded that the British stop
throwing all-day stag parties contaminating Chinese territory with opiates, going so far as to toss crates of it in the river.
Need a break from the history lesson? The Chinese word for opium, 鸦片 yāpiàn, translates as “crow slice.” You’re welcome. Anyway…
Put the story another way, and you’ll find out that the UK gained Hong Kong, as well as humiliating trade privileges with China, from the two Opium Wars. One-sided conflict? That’s for sure. Until now on the minds of the Chinese? There’s a good chance:
One of my trademark ambles in Humen fortuitously came upon this monument to modern Chinese plumbing. No, no it’s an opium pipe being split into two pieces. For the mainland, that’s deep. My advice, to those of you spontaneously patriotic Union Jacks and Jills: don’t make the V-sign pose in a photo here.
Extra points if you thought that the knob on left-side of the pipe controlled the fountain.
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