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In Session: Trade Networks, Maps, and Literatures in Early Modern South China Seas and Malay Archipelago (Song – Qing Dynasty)
4: Sino-Southeast Asia Junk Trade in the Early Modern Age
Monday, March 22, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Xiamen University, China (People's Republic)
This paper examines the junk trade between China and Southeast Asia, a region of alluvial lowland and fragmented upland with rich maritime connectivities. Such kind of inter-regional interaction, especially the junk trade with China, became one of the major dynamics of this “Land Below the Wind.” I reflect the key issues and debates on the tributary system, the Canton System, and the Treaty Port system and point out a better understanding of the big picture of the junk trade. This paper briefly introduces the background of the junk trade in the context of the overseas maritime trade with Southeast Asia, including trading routes and import and export products, import and export products, and marketing and specialization. The second section discusses further the state control of overseas trade, including the de facto lassi-faire policy in the first half of the eighteenth century and the restriction of the junk trade after 1757. From the early Qing transition and Southern Sea Prohibition (1717-1727) to the Canton System (1757-1842) and the Treaty Port system (1842-1946), the junk trade moved along with the state agenda, developing at a slower pace compared to the European expansion. Finally, the last section supplies a reflection on some essential issues and debates on the junk trade.