Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Canton (Guangzhou)

Our friend Allum, the opium broker, has come to represent to us that a friend of his is building a smuggling boat somewhere in your neighbourhood, and requests that we will ask the favour of you to endeavour to afford him any protection which may be in your power, in the event of his being molested by the Mandarins. You must not of course go to the length of committing any acts of violence against the Mandarins, but he thinks the Mandarins will be deterred from giving annoyance by a mere show on your part of a disposition to protect the boat building operation.

William Jardine in Canton to Captain Grant on board the Samarang at Lintin, 1832.*

Common practice in the opium trade was for Chinese buyers to pre-arrange their purchases from the ships at Lintin at the money shops in Guangzhou. For most of the 1830s, William Jardine operated out of the foreign factories in Guangzhou (pictured above), constantly interacting with local Chinese merchants as well as sending and receiving letters with his agents in Calcutta, Bombay, Singapore, London, Macao, Lintin, and along the China coast in places like Shenhu Bay.

In the quote above, William Jardine describes how one of his Chinese partners approached him in Guangzhou in order to request that Jardine's ship at Lintin protect a shipbuilding operation near Lintin from interference by the Chinese government.

* China Trade and Empire: Jardine, Matheson & Co. And the Origins of British Rule in Hong Kong 1827-1843, ed. Alain le Pichon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 162.

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