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Opium RegimesChina, Britain, and Japan, 1839-1952$
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Timothy Brook, Patrick Carr, and Maria Kefalas

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780520220096

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520220096.001.0001

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Drugs, Taxes, and Chinese Capitalism in Southeast Asia

Drugs, Taxes, and Chinese Capitalism in Southeast Asia

(p.78) (p.79) Three Drugs, Taxes, and Chinese Capitalism in Southeast Asia
Opium Regimes

Carl A. Trocki

University of California Press

This chapter demonstrates how much the development of Singapore, the most important opium trading post between India and China, hinged on Chinese economic networks. It explains that opium in Singapore was handled through privately held monopolies granted by the colonial stat known as “opium farms.” The chapter notes that these farms were owned and operated by Chinese kongsi or shareholding partnerships, and argues that opium was the trap in which the kongsi economies were captured by colonial capitalism. It shows that although as the local economies were trapped, British merchants were able, perhaps even forced, to leave the details of the opium trade to others, they relied on its presence. The British attempted to replicate their Singapore success in Hong Kong, but found it impossible to trap the local economy there, thus exposing any notion of establishing a genuine colonial foothold in China as impossible.

Keywords:   Singapore, opium trade, privately held monopolies, Chinese kongsi, opium farms, colonial capitalism, British, local economy, China, Hong Kong

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