Abstract

In a series of studies from the 1970s and 1980s, the author argued that a decline in silver imports into China during the late 1630s and early 1640s was one of the factors (though not the only one) that contributed to the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644. Several publications of the late 1980s and 1990s challenged this view on the grounds that new research showed silver imports into China rising rather than falling during the last years of the Ming dynasty. Much of the evidence behind this new research, however, is questionable. Because the issue of Chinese silver imports looms so large in studies of international trade and Chinese economic development, it is time to reopen the debate. This essay reviews the new research and argues that its conclusions about the level of silver imports into China are either incorrect or greatly overstated.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8050
Print ISSN
1045-6007
Pages
pp. 467-489
Launched on MUSE
2006-02-13
Open Access
No
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