In the painting the mandarin called Li is ordering the destruction of 20291 bales of opium. The roots of the Opium War or First China War lay in a trade dispute between the British and the Chinese Qing. Click again to see term 116 . Send this by. Treaty of Nanjing. The British Empires grasp on the Americas was slipping right at the time when they needed those resources most. The Opium Wars. The 1st Opium War was fought between China and Britain and the 2nd Opium War was fought by Britain and France against China. When China banned the drug Britain started a war in. Number of pages. Foreign traders primarily British had been illegally exporting opium mainly from India to China since the 18th century but that trade grew dramatically from about 1820. The first Opium War. China tried to stop it and restrict it.