When Western pressure on the Manchu Empire began to increase during the early nineteenth century, it served to exacerbate the existing strains in Chinese society. By 1800, the trade relationship that restricted Western merchants to a small commercial outlet at Canton was no longer acceptable to the British, who chafed at the growing trade imbalance resulting from a growing appetite for Chinese tea. Their solution was opium. A product more addictive than tea, opium was grown under company sponsorship in northeastern India and then shipped directly to the Chinese market. Soon demand for the product in South China became insatiable, despite an official prohibition on its use. Bullion now flowed out of the Chinese imperial treasury into the pockets of British merchants and officials.