The restrictions imposed under the Canton system were abolished.Opium, despite imperial prohibitions, now became a regular item of trade.Western merchants could not contact Qing officials directly, and there were no formal diplomatic relations between China and Western countries.
The Qing court was not in principle hostile to useful trade.
In 16, the court had negotiated treaties with Russia to exchange furs from Siberia for tea, and allowed the Russians to live in a foreigners’ guest house in Beijing.
As opium flooded into China, its price dropped, local consumption increased rapidly, and the drug penetrated all levels of society.
In the new treaty ports, foreign traders collaborated with a greater variety of Chinese merchants than under the Canton system, and they ventured deeply into the Chinese interior.
They could only reside in the city in a limited space, including their warehouses; they could not bring their families; and they could not stay there more a few months of the year.
Qing officials closely supervised trading relations, allowing only licensed merchants from Western countries to trade through a monopoly guild of Chinese merchants called the Cohong.
Canton, where the business of trade was primarily conducted during this period, is depicted on this fan created for the foreign market.
Seven national flags fly from the Western headquarters that line the shore.
Tea exports from China grew from 92,000 pounds in 1700 to 2.7 million pounds in 1751.
By 1800 the East India Company was buying 23 million pounds of tea per year at a cost of 3.6 million pounds of silver.