Lets start with a moment of silence for those who lay cold in the street without recognition while their families weep listening to their last breaths being drawn

We ask you to recall the story of Lin Zexu, commissioner of China during the height of the Opium Wars…


Lin instituted an intricate and multifaceted control system. First, he ordered a set of registers to be kept by innkeepers and landlords, and presented for official inspection every five days, to keep track of the transients who moved in and out of the city. Second, he established five men mutual–security groups for officials, soldiers, and yamen clerks. Third, he supplied harsh penaltiesfor smokers, dealers, and peddlers within the city, and high rewards to informants. Finally, Lin had publicly proclaimed that the old pao-chia (an antiquated system designed to ensure that no individual disturbed the social order) had failed to work because its guarantors were not dependable.[7] These policies projected the effect of dislocation and terror, as many smokers were executed, imprisoned, or hospitalized; the prisons were crowded with innocent victims. While many perished while incarcerated, the informers prospered, capitalists were purposely involved to get possession of their property. As the legal trade was at an end, the drug was, when the panic had passed, resumed with greater vigor.[8] Lin Zexu persuaded the Emperor that the importers and distributers of the drug, rather than the users themselves, had to bear the principal force of government punishment. By July 1839, Lin had arrested about 1700 native offenders and confiscated 44,000 pounds of opium and over 70,000 opium pipes.[9]Lin evoked another policy to break the intake of opium at the Canton port; first, to arrest and punish some of the well-known Chinese opium traffickers to frighten away the others; second, to pressure the merchants to be faithful to the government and wash their hands of the deadly drug; and third, to severely punish the foreigners and to deal a death blow to their well-established black market drug trade.[10] Lin was genuinely convinced that the merchants had betrayed their country for the sake of commerce. He declared a boycott against the British and persistently criticized the Chinese merchants, calling them chien-shang (treacherous merchants) or han-chien (traitor) for continuing their deceitful work.[11] In trying to combat the importation of the drug, Lin demanded that the foreigners bequeath the drug trade. His attempt to reason with the British took the appearance of a message to Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901) in which Lin claims that “The wealth of China is used to profit the barbarians… By what right do they then in return use the poisonous drug to injure the Chinese people? Where is your conscience?”[12] The British first ignored the order, than flat out refused; therefore Lin stopped all trade and set up a siege of the factories and their 350 foreigners. They held out forsix weeks, finally succumbing in spring 1839, and delivering over 21,000 chests of opium to Lin, who promptly had 500 laborers dig three immense trenches – seven feet deep, 25 feet wide, and 150 feet long, filled them with the confiscated opium, water, and added a mix of salt and lime to make the drug useless.

Despite Lin’s attempts at preventing Western exploitation of Chinese citizens, the West’s plan to weaken China with a highly addictive drug allowed them to take complete control over the Chinese economy, setting them up for more than a century of economic dominance over the region. While history classes focus heavily on the British influence within the Opium Wars, they conveniently ignore America’s introduction of the Treaty of Wanghia. Forced to sign it after their losses to Britain and America in the Opium Wars, this treaty required China to cede ports to America and grant them exemption from all Chinese laws. Post-treaty, China had not only lost their economic prominence, but over 50,000 lives, more than fifteen times as many as America and Britain combined.

Now, history has undergone a collective amnesia to forget American involvement in these wars, and the death toll faced by China. America now tells a different story, a one sided one. One that took a singular event, rearticulated it, and allowed it to manifest instead as an act of American heroism, where China’s economy and culture would have fallen had America not stepped in and boosted trade within the ports. These sort of stories become the ultimate determinant for policy action. America’s goals of interaction with China have been conceptualized and created around the idea of productive expenditure -- constantly seeking a future of conservation and rescue. This form of interaction serves only to intensify the feeling of absence and lack, causing an endless cycle of American desire for Chinese exploitation and usage politics, while China is stuck in a separate cycle of an inability to mourn, framed by the absence of grievability.

Brennan 15
(Eugene Brennan, Literature and Intoxication: Writing, Politics and the Experience of Excess, 2015, shr)

Poetry occupies a privileged place
AND

sacrifice of itself.


When the public is struck with vulnerability in the face of an attack it simultaneously produces the grief by which we construct these stories --- now, America paints China as a dangerous enemy needing to be controlled. A resentment bred from a fear of losing their primacy, their security, their familiarity, and ultimately, their proximity --- this story is part of a larger story of first worldism.

America has dictated which body is acceptable to mourn and that body is the white male body, the brave soldier who died in vain for our own economic primacy against the barbaric, drug-fueled Chinese. Don’t worry about any other loss -- everyone else can remain in a perpetual state of grief and mourning, unable to let go of the death hanging over them to embrace their own ecstasy -- after all, the only thing that matters is whether or not we won the war, right?

Brennan 15

(Eugene Brennan, Literature and Intoxication: Writing, Politics and the Experience of Excess, 2015, shr)

Pain, anguish and torture are
AND
they long for can be attained.


The process of establishing a world order first depended on subjugation. The power of the United States could not have been achieved without breaking a few countries apart. Omnipotence is birthed through a process of conquest. Without the murder and destruction posed by the West in the Opium Wars, America would have never been able to claim the title of most powerful economy. Rather, it would have been stuck in a constant second place; always terrified of China, always in a state of paranoia.

But there is a reason we ask you to recall the Opium Wars. We could have told the story from the position of the Western soldier killed in the war or the general who watched his fleet crush an entire country, but this narrative stems from a moment of vulnerability. Where it is no longer America who decides who is the center of the retelling. Where it is no longer American primacy who gets to decide which bodies are mourned and which cultures are allowed to reach a place of post-mourning. This process of reconsidering mourning and emotion redetermines whose story gets told.

Butler 04

(Judith, Prof of Gender Studies, “Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence”, pg 5-11, shr)

There is as well a narrative
AND



for this global outcome.


Before we can begin to consider any sort of policy towards China, we need to first interrogate the emotions behind those policies -- couched in a permanent state of paranoia, pushing away muted grief and refusing to allow a space for mourning. Our affirmation of mourning and rejection of American paranoia is a rejection of the American perspective which allows a structure for dissolving the Western binary between grievable and ignorable -- this also means only our interrogation can provide strategies for action.

Butler 04(Judith, Prof of Gender Studies, “Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence”, pg 28-32, shr)
Let us return to the issue of grief
AND

will not even qualify as "grievable."