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Drug Prohibition in the Chinese Interior, — In the midth century, western imperial powers such as Great Britain, France, and the United States were aggressively expanding their influence around the world through their economic and military strength and by spreading religion, mostly through the activities of Christian missionaries. By the late Ming, maritime enclaves of Southeast Asia were home to many Chinese merchants and laborers who sojourned to and from mainland China. Early Opium Trade in the United States Opium and the Limits of Empire: It was running up not just a trade but also a monetary deficit, as China accepted only silver as payment and bought little in return. For other uses, see Opium Den disambiguation. By the s, increasing supply fueled a level of consumption that neither repeated attempts at prohibition, nor two opium wars could stymie; it exploded into a consumer revolution.