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America’s trade relationship with China began right after the Revolutionary War. But trade with China at that time was not easy. The Middle Kingdom did not trust foreigners and confined American and European ships to the port of Canton. There were very strict rules set down by the emperor about how trade with foreign nations could occur. American traders brought sea otter pelts; sealskins; sandalwood, běche de mer (sea cucumbers) to trade for Chinese tea, silks, spices, jade and porcelain. American and British ships also smuggled in opium, despite that fact that Chinese law prohibited trade in that drug. This would eventually lead to The Opium War, which would affect China’s attitudes to outside influences to this day. Tonight on Inquiry we talk with award-winning author ERIC JAY DOLIN about his exciting new history WHEN AMERICA FIRST MET CHINA: AN EXOTIC HISTORY OF TEA, DRUGS, AND MONEY IN THE AGE OF SAIL.
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