Did China ever hire pirates to attack opium ships?

May 2019
218
Earth
Is there any evidence of the Chinese authorities hiring pirates to attack foreign ships carrying opium, in an effort to stop the flood of drugs into their country? I know there were pirates attacking foreign opium ships during the 19th century, but I'm curious to know if there were any who were put up to the job by the government or local officials, rather than just acting on their own impetus.

In the past, the Chinese authorities would sometimes hire pirates as auxiliaries, even offering them naval commissions in exchange for hunting down their brethren (or at least ceasing their own raids), so I wondered if they considered paying off pirates to target British (or other foreign) opium traffickers. It would have been a more indirect way of disrupting the opium trade, rather than sending regular Chinese warships after them and risking direct confrontation with the western powers (which ended up happening anyway).
 
Jan 2013
1,066
Toronto, Canada
I don't know the answer to your question, but the Chinese screenwriter who turns this idea into a movie will be a very rich man.
 

kazeuma

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
2,392
I know it is a fictional account - but "Noble House" Series of the Struans mention it, so there might be some, but not enough to stop the trade (It is more likely that the pirates would seize the Opium and sell it themselves). The Struans are loosely based on the Jardine Family that built / leased Hong Kong.
 
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May 2019
218
Earth
I know it is a fictional account - but "Noble House" Series of the Struans mention it, so there might be some
I remember reading that book years ago. Despite being fiction, the author did seem to have done his homework as far as the setting was concerned.

but not enough to stop the trade (It is more likely that the pirates would seize the Opium and sell it themselves).
Of course, I'm not suggesting that pirate auxiliaries would have been efficient in totally stopping the opium trade, I was just curious if there was any historical evidence for the Chinese government or local officials striking some kind of a deal with them to hunt down foreign drug traffickers. There were definitely pirates who went after the opium ships of their own accord, but there was also nothing to stop these same pirates attacking Chinese vessels. I had wondered if any kind of arrangement had been made at any point, where local authorities would turn a blind eye to pirates as long as they focused on foreign ships, or even payed out bounties under-the-table for each cargo of opium that was destroyed...