US-China tensions: Lessons from the Opium War

What have the Chinese, both the leaders and their people, learnt from their country's crushing defeat by Britain in the First Opium War (1839-1842), and if there are lessons learnt, how will that help them in the present confrontation with the United States?

These seem relevant questions to ask as it is Beijing that often invokes bitter memories of this war, especially the "100 years of humiliation" by imperialist powers that it unleashed, to whip up nationalist sentiments and rally its people whenever it perceives a foreign encroachment on China's sovereignty.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2018, with the headline 'US-China tensions: Lessons from the Opium War'. Print Edition | Subscribe