London, Dec. 30 (ANI): The Chinese warning that Britain's protest against the execution of drug trafficking-accused British citizen, Akmal Shaikh, could harm diplomatic ties between the two countries, has its roots in the historical China-Britain Opium Wars in the 19th century.
An official statement from the Chinese embassy said the "strong resentment" felt by the Chinese public to drug traffickers was in part based on "the bitter memory of history".
The Telegraph quoted Jonathan Fenby, the author of The Penguin History of Modern China, as saying that the statement was a reference to the two Opium Wars fought between China and Great Britain and its allies in the middle of the 19th century and the wider opium trade.
The trade in opium, often grown in India, boomed in China despite efforts to ban it with large amounts of the drugs being shipped into the country by British merchants.
Attempts by the Chinese government to disrupt the trade were met with force and Britain twice went to war to protect its stranglehold on the market.
British merchants forced the Chinese to grant them access to Chinese ports and won the right for their citizens to be exempt from Chinese law.
"The unequal treaties, as they became known, caused a great deal of resentment in late 19th century and 20th century China among Chinese nationalists," Fenby said.
"If you spoke to the average 20 or 30-something Chinese person they would say the British forced us to take opium. It is established as part of the historical story," he added.
Shaikh's execution triggered strong criticism from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who said in a statement that he was "appalled".
On Tuesday, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry expressed China's anger at the British Government's response to the death sentence.
"Nobody has the right to speak ill of China's judicial sovereignty. We express strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition over the groundless British accusations. We hope that the British side can view this matter rationally and not create new obstacles in bilateral relations," said Jiang Yu. (ANI)