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Reasons the British victorious in the opium wars 1) The industry revolution and steam power - The British had iron armoured steamships against wooden sail powered junks. 2) A massive global empire - The Royal Navy was sailing all over the world, and it could get amounts of troops and wealth that was essentially infinite. This also meant that they had a base in India. 3) Battle hardened troops which had fought the Napoleonic Wars and had modern weapons and tactics. 4) An ideology that justified the war. The real differentiation between the Qing and British forces lay in their training and discipline. The Qing court in Beijing was well aware of advances in firearms technology, they had been trading in the very same kinds of guns and artillery the British were using against them. What they weren't aware of was modern military training, tactics, and most important of all: discipline. If you dig into accounts of the actual fighting on land in the Opium Wars, you find that the British were mostly just chasing Qing forces around, there wasn't much fighting at all. In most cases, at Amoy and Nanking, the British infantry just put out a double volley and the Qing forces broke and ran. Europeans are no more or less bulletproof than Chinese, but European armies were trained to take the volleys of fire and still keep marching on. This was the real distinction between the British and most of their colonial opponents; it wasn't a matter of technology, but of will and discipline.