The King Kong of Hong Kong

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I always like to get the back story on a movie. The first time I saw "The Sand Pebbles" starring Steve McQueen was at the Drive-In. (that will index my age.) Now I can watch it on Amazon. The back story is that China had had enough of Western Civilization cannibalizing its country, so it retaliated by fighting off the American gunboats like the San Pablo (circa 1926.) But decades before the US Navy patrolled the China rivers, a pair of Scottish lads were patrolling those same rivers with a different strategy. It seems Dr. William Jardine and James Matheson had a knack for smuggling opium from India into China to trade for tea and silk during the first half of the 19th century. Since England's silver reserve was dwindling and Great Britain's obsession for tea was rising, Jardine & Matheson couldn't resist the opportunity to hook a whole country on the earth's strongest narcotic. When China shut their operation down in 1839, J&M simply got the Royal Navy to attack and defeat China's Canton port (First Opium War), forcing a radically favorable Anglo treaty (Treaty of Nanking) and essentially giving the entire island of Hong Kong to Jardine and Matheson. Today, over 150 years later, the Jardine Matheson diversified conglomerate is the benchmark of excellance not only in Hong Kong but the Far East as well. Their profit in 2012 was a cool 22 billion. I sure hope that one of their charitable causes includes some drug rehab clinics along the Yangtze.

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