The Opium Wars were fought in China prior to the 1860s, against the British Empire and French Empire on one side (PROSE: The Eleventh Tiger) and the Chinese Empire on the other. (PROSE: The Nightmare Fair, AUDIO: The Nightmare Fair)
China became the centre of Britain's highly profitable opium trade during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, there was much smuggling and corruption within the trade, and many members of the Chinese population also became addicted to the drug, leading them and their families to suffer. In December 1800, as the trade was overseen by Roderick Upcott, the Chinese Emperor intended to stamp out these problems. His Chief Astrologer sought to achieve this by targeting the British Trade Concession in Canton. With the Chief Astrologer's encouragement and assistance, riots broke out in Canton among the local population against the Concession. Other trade nations with Chinese interests, such as Portugal and France, also prepared for trouble. (PROSE: Foreign Devils)
The wars Edit
The British Fleet bombarded some Chinese coastal towns. (PROSE: The Nightmare Fair, AUDIO: The Nightmare Fair) British and French forces attacked the mainland, capturing ancient temples and using them as watchtowers. (PROSE: The Eleventh Tiger)
The British and French continued to use occupied temples as watchtowers after the wars. The main garrison of the British Army was stationed on Xamian Island. Individuals among China's population, such as Wong Fei-Hung, felt disappointment and shame for China's defeat. (PROSE: The Eleventh Tiger) However, the Sixth Doctor spoke of the outcome as a positive one. He claimed Imperial China was corrupt which made it all too attractive a playing field for beings such as the Celestial Toymaker, whom the Doctor accused of preferring an outcome where the Empire continued to exist for thousands more years. (PROSE: The Nightmare Fair, AUDIO: The Nightmare Fair)
By 1900, China had fallen even further under the influence of foreign powers, including Britain, the United States, Russia and Japan. The prosperity of the south even relied on trade with some of these nations, so the empire could not effectively resist their pressure. (PROSE: Warring States) The last remnants of the ailing Empire were swept away in 1911 when Pu Yi was ousted by Sun Yat Sen's Nationalists and China became a republic. (PROSE: The Shadow of Weng-Chiang)
Behind the scenes Edit
There were two Opium Wars. The First Opium War (1839-1842) was primarily a British and Chinese affair. The Second Opium War (1856-1860) also saw the involvement of the French and the limited participation of the United States. Given this, Barbara Wright and Wong Fei-Hung's references to the Opium Wars in The Eleventh Tiger likely refer mostly to the Second. Warring States actually distinguishes between the two in the Author's Notes.