Articles by Karl Marx on China 1853-1860
Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich/CxArchive/MIA/marx/works/1853/china/index.htm
Publisher: New York Daily Tribune
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX11001
China was, at this time, in upheaval. It was the most populous region in the world (400 million people in 1834). The "Celestial Empire" had long operated with trade surpluses, but by the 1840s, serious trade deficits plagued China. The first European-Chinese conflict (The Opium War) began in 1839 and ended with the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. During this period, famines wracked the land. It is estimated maybe 14 million people died in 1849, and another 20 million between 1854 and 1860.
At the same time, the Taiping rebellion broke out in 1850 and attacked the status quo Confucianist Manchu Dynasty -- which had ruled since 1644. The rebellion was based in social revolutionary ideas of equality and was popular among the masses. It abolished private property, established sexual equality, and banned drugs (from alcohol to opium). By 1853, it dominated much of SE China.