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Traditionally, a "trade war" is a real war, initiated by the US, the UK, or some other such imperial country, but it\'s (allegedly) about trade issues. This is why people in Japan and China get a bit nervous when politicians from the US throw around the term, among other things.

lyrics

Let me tell you a tale, stir a hornet's nest
Well remembered in the east, most forgotten in the west
It was the 1830's and the industrial revolution
Was turning Europe into a land of wage slaves and air pollution
The history books tell us it was the era of free trade
And the entire world hungered for the products Europe made
Merchants plied their wares across the seven seas
And they brought back things like porcelain, silk and tea

Soon all the tea in China could barely keep the west awake
Such a thirst for Chinese products as could barely be slaked
They liked to drink their tea in cups of Chinese porcelain
And those who could afford it loved the silk upon their skin
But what made the merchants and the monarchs scream and cry and shout
They seemed to have little to offer that China couldn't live without
They didn't want their muskets and they didn't want their wool
Which left the British coffers empty and the Chinese coffers full

And they called it a “trade war”

They called it a trade war and I guess that could be so
They say it's not free trade if it's just a one-way flow
Because apparently free trade is when the west comes out ahead
That's how it is in practice though that's never what is said
The fact of history they'd have us sweep under the rug
The one thing they could sell in China was an addictive drug
It had long been banned by Chinese law but the British didn't care
They packed the opium up in crates and they shipped it there

It all came to a head in 1838
When the soldiers of the emperor torched twenty thousand crates
It took three days to burn it, and when the fires had gone out
The Chinese people would soon learn what free trade was all about
Navies came from Britain, France and the USA
In blood, land and silver they would make the Chinese pay
Cities levelled, thousands killed, the war was three years long
That's how they “opened” China, that's how they got Hong Kong

credits

from Spies Are Reading My Blog, released November 4, 2013

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David Rovics Portland, Oregon

"Absolutely brilliant. David Rovics says exactly what needs to be said."
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