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The clash between Great Britain and China in 1839 to 1842 was not only a typical 19th-century imperial war but also the first major conflict in which psychoactive substances played a central role. The hostilities resumed in 1856 to 1860, when Britain used the seizure of the trading ship Arrow in October 1956, near Canton, as an excuse to employ military force again—this time also joined by France (the Arrow War or the Second Opium War).

The first Opium War claimed 520 British casualties (including 69 killed) and between 18,000 and 20,000 Chinese killed or wounded. The cost of the Arrow War was more excessive: Over 2,300 British and allied soldiers were killed and over 500 wounded, and the Chinese suffered about 30,000 killed or ...

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