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Jewish Opium and British Imperialism

The Wanton Destruction of China's Yuanmingyuan
China's Yuan Ming Yuan, was almost certainly the greatest - and most valuable - palace / museum complex that had existed in the history of the world. This incredible creation of palaces, gardens and museums comprised almost 4 square kilometers and contained more than 10 million priceless and irreplaceable treasures representing more than 5,000 years of the history of the world's most ancient civilisation.

It took 150 years to build, and only three weeks to utterly destroy. The purpose of this article is to tell that story.

It involves the Jewish Sassoon family, their exclusive Chinese opium franchise, the British and French governments, imperialism, greed, and the wanton, savage and pathological destruction of a world heritage, on a scale never before seen.

To fully appreciate this story you should read this background article entitled, "The Jewish Monpoly on Opium Still Fuels Chinese Resentment Today". Here is the link.

  • The Yuan Ming Yuan - 圆明园

  • A old painting depicting a portion of the palaces and gardens.
    The Garden of Perfect Brightness - the great Yuan Ming Yuan of China - was one of the most magnificent gardens in the history of the world.

    Spanning more than 350 hectares (about 4 square kilometers), it was a fairyland of hills, ponds, lakes, ancient trees and palaces.

    The Yuan Ming Yuan was considered as one of the finest examples of Chinese garden landscape ever created.

    Artisans were recruited from all over China to enact the exquisite Chinese garden settings, the mountain scenes and the a hundred odd palaces, pavilions and halls with bridges, pagodas and temples.

    A third of the ground was given to nature in the form of streams, ponds, rockeries, hillocks, cliffs, ravines and caves.
    The Yuanmingyuan was renowned throughout the world for its fabled charms and association with Chinese modern history. Extolled as the "Garden of Gardens" and the "Versailles of the East" during its heyday, it was an imperial summer resort painstakingly built and repeatedly expanded under the personal supervision of five emperors of the Qing Dynasty.

  • The Yuan Ming Yuan Museum - 圆明园博物馆

    But the Yuan Ming Yuan was much more than just a garden or a selection of palaces; It was a museum, without question the largest and most valuable museum the world had ever seen. It contained more than 10 million artifacts, relics, and irreplaceable and priceless treasures representing 5,000 years of the world's oldest culture and civilisation.

  • An artist's sketch of a portion of the Yuamningyuan as it then existed.
    Built during a period of almost 150 years, various Chinese emperors collected from across the country the finest samples of all that was precious and valuable - and irreplaceable - representing all facets of the country's vast and deep 5,000 years of history and culture.

    Furniture made of red sandalwood, redwood and other rare materials decorated the numerous halls in which these countless rare cultural relics were on display.

    Bronze and gold castings were everywhere. Countless gold castings were destroyed by the British because they didn't believe so many objects could be made of real gold.

    The French writer Victor Hugo once remarked, "With all its treasures, Notre Dame in Paris is no match for Yuanmingyuan, that enormous and magnificent museum in the East."
    It contained the world's largest collection of artistic treasures and cultural relics, and an almost unimaginable imperial library of priceless books, calligraphy and writings.

    As one of the four most famous imperial libraries, the Wenyuan Hall (Hall of Literary Profundity) in the garden originally housed such precious ancient books as The Complete Library of Four Branches of Books (《四库全书》), Gems of the Complete Library of Four Branches of Books (《四库全书荟要》), and The Completed Collection of Graphs and Writings of Ancient and Modern Times (《古今图书集成》).

  • The Yuan Ming Yuan Administrative Residence - 圆明园行政公寓

    For almost 150 years, Yuan Ming Yuan served for China's government administration, vacation and residences for six generations of emperors in the Qing dynasty. The emperor and his wives would live in Yuan Ming Yuan after Chinese New Year until the end of autumn. It was the summer retreat and sometimes main residence of Qing emperors.

  • Opium, Misery, Profit and War - 鸦片,苦难,利润和战争

  • Another artist's sketch of the front entrance
    to the Yuamningyuan.
    The Sassoon's opium franchise was totally supported by the full might of the world's greatest military - that of the British Empire.

    As a result, China's very social fabric was being slowly eviscerated, the economy being destroyed, the country's financial reserves disappearing, the nation becoming weaker.

    Naturally, the Chinese began fighting back, but the British government and the Jewish families who controlled the fantastically profitable opium trade were not to be easily discouraged.

    During one period of resistance in 1856, the Chinese seized some ships, threw the opium cargo into the rivers, arrested and killed some of the crew. The Sassoons demanded retaliation and compensation for their loss.
    To accommodate them, Britain falsely claimed the ships and cargo to be British, and commenced military reprisals against China. However, it is generally believed that the British used these events as a pretext for already-planned military action intended to make China more pliable to commercial penetration and more amenable to an intended colonial partition of the country.

  • Flames of the Yuan Ming Yuan - 火烧圆明园

    In August 1860, English and French forces under the command of Generals Hope Grant and Cousin-Montauban, invaded the undefended Yuanming Yuan and began looting the palaces and museums. There followed an orgy of indiscriminate plunder and destruction, continuing until both French and British felt they could carry no more. Anything that could not be carted off was ordered destroyed.

    Lord Elgin, the British commander-in-chief, ordered that, as a final blow and act of ultimate revenge, the now-looted Yuan Ming Yuan should be set on fire and destroyed. This was the son of the Lord Elgin who looted the marble friezes from Greece’s Parthenon.

  • This photo taken by Ernst Ohlmer in 1873 is believed to be one of the earliest photos of the Yuamningyuan.
    "The British calculated that the destruction would break the Chinese emperor’s will to resist, and they seem to have been right.

    China surrendered the same day and signed the disadvantageous Convention of Peking, which among other things opened more Chinese ports for international commerce and legalized the opium trade."

    The French claim to have objected to this destruction, but firm evidence supporting this position appears to be lacking.

    In any case, the French participated quite fully in the ensuing cultural atrocities, being quite willing not only to take their share of the "prizes" but to destroy what they couldn't steal.

    Everything that remained, all treasures, artifacts, books, cultural relics, that could not be looted were deliberately destroyed.

    Everything was smashed, broken and ruined. Then all the buildings were set aflame, with fires that burned for days, with such a volume of smoke that on occasion it appeared all of Beijing was in flames.

    Because the Yuanmingyuan was so vast - roughly five times the size of Beijing’s Forbidden City and eight times that of the Vatican City - it took an entire infantry division of nearly 4,500 men, including four British regiments and the 15th Punjabis, to set it aflame.

    A photo of some of the ruins of the Yuamningyuan today.
    Only some carved stone rubble survives.
    In total, it took more than 7,500 soldiers more than three weeks to wantonly and unforgivably destroy and burn to the ground the greatest concentration of cultural treasures that had ever existed in the history of the world.

    "Gilded beams crashed, porcelain roofs buckled, ash filled the lakes and embers snowed down on Beijing, where clouds of dense smoke eclipsed the sun.

    Upon hearing the news, the ailing 30-year-old Xianfeng emperor vomited blood; less than a year later he was dead."

    "It was a sacrifice of all that was most ancient and most beautiful,” acknowledged Robert McGhee, chaplain to the British forces and a participant in, and defender of, the destruction. “It is gone, but I do not know how to tear myself from it."
    "“I love to linger over the recollection, but I cannot make you see it,” he wrote. “A man must be a poet, a painter, a historian, a virtuoso, a Chinese scholar, and I don’t know how many other things besides, to give you even an idea of it, and I am not an approach to any one of them. But whenever I think of beauty and taste, of skill and antiquity, while I live, I shall see before my mind’s eye some scene from those grounds, those palaces."

  • But it was Profitable - 但它是盈利的

  • Another photo of the Yuamningyuan ruins as they are today.
    It is finally even more painful and outrageous to realise that this accumulation of 5,000 years of culture was deliberately plundered and razed to the ground as a kind of "punishment", to mellow a colonial victim into submission.

    And it was done by the English and French forces primarily to protect the "business" interests of the Jewish Sassoon family in their unconscionable crusade to destroy an entire ancient civilisation of people with an addictive drug - for the sake of their personal wealth.

    But for the Sassoons, it was worth the effort.

    They became the richest family in the world at the time, second only to the Rothschilds themselves.

    By the 1860s, the Sassoons were multi-billionnaires.
    The stories we hear today of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett being "the richest man in the world" are just urban legends for the naive. The Rothschilds, the Sassoons, and similar families today are each worth an estimated 6 trillion to 7 trillion dollars. Wars and human devastation were the source of their wealth.

  • China will never forget - 中国永远不会忘记

    A century and a half later, the Yuanmingyuan holds a similar grip on the China that has inherited its ruins and can forget neither its vanished glory nor its vindictive desecration. Ultimately, a loss as great as that of the Yuanmingyuan may be one with which China will never come to terms.

    The Yuamningyuan lake, drained of its water and
    the grounds bereft of life and beauty.
    "The Yuanmingyuan is the shame in the heart of the Chinese people," said Que Weimin, a professor at the World Heritage Research Center at Peking University.

    "And it's a reminder for the whole world that such destruction of human cultural heritage should not happen again."

    Anyone who appreciates beauty and human enterprise will be outraged when they visit the present YuanMingYuan.

    In a Chinese museum today is a copy of a letter written in 1861 by Victor Hugo condemning the destruction by the invading Anglo-French troops as barbaric.

    It is painful to see the ruins and think that this once beautiful imperial park with its exquisite gardens, Chinese palaces and Western Baroque buildings, contained millions of art treasures and cultural relics and an imperial library of irreplaceable books.
  • Under the order of Premier Zhou Enlai, the Yuan Ming Yuan became a park to remind the Chinese and the world of the destruction wrought by European colonial powers to a harmless and priceless cultural entity that rightly belongs to mankind.

    It was a tragedy that the Yuan Ming Yuan took so many years to raise to glory but only a few days of wanton destruction in 1860 to obliterate. Such was a painful waste for humanity, this fruit of man’s ingenuity, conceived as a Garden of all Chinese Gardens.

    But this wasn't the end. Again, in 1900, the allied forces of the Eight Powers invaded Beijing and sacked the remaining buildings in the park. Many priceless artifacts that were plundered made their ways to the museums and private collections in Europe - where they still remain.

    England and France have yet to apologise for this atrocity, or indeed to even admit that it occurred.

  • Bibliography

    By SHEILA MELVIN in the New York Times; October 21, 2010;=china
    Kutcher, Norman. 2003. “China’s place of memory,” Wilson Quarterly 27(1), 30-40.
    Wolseley, Garnet. 1862. Narrative of the War with China in 1860. London: Longman, Green, Longman & Robert.
    (Available at

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