In the 18th and 19th century, a contrivance known as opium trade emerged. Opium developed in India was exported to western countries like Great Britain. It was sold to China in order to purchase their luxury goods like tea, silk, and porcelain due to their huge demand in the West. In the early 7th century, Arab and Turkish traders first introduced opium to China. During the 1st century of the Qing dynasty, there was a rapid increase in the opium importations. In the opium trade, one of the key leading influencers in the 16th century was the European traders. They also were the primary suppliers of the Chinese market. They had their excursions to Asia as they witnessed the potentiality of the opium trade in it. This particular trade was later also joined by the United States.

A chronic trade imbalance was present between China and Europe which was resolved through this opium trade. Along the Chinese coast, the opium was sold by the Indian country traders in exchange for silver and gold. In the 18th century, the number of opium imports increased to 10,000 chests from 1,000 annually. For the 1st time, the balance of payments went in favor of Britain and against China which further leads to opium wars between the West and China. The opium trade was highly one-sided and regulated. Some of the groups that supported the opium trade were Britain, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, and France. For the colonial empire of Britain, China became the major banking and trading center. However, the situation of China later changed when the Nanjing Treat was signed. Great Britain history was largely influenced by it.