The maritime frontier has played a key role in shaping the coastal peoples of Southeast Asia and South China, whose settlements were often more easily reached by water than over land, while serving to link these regions to the wider world. This article explores the maritime frontier from central China through the Malay Peninsula as a single field of interaction, sometimes compared to the Mediterranean, in the early modern era (1400–1700) through a study of three key ports: Melaka in Malaya, Hoi An in Vietnam, and Ayutthaya in Siam. It also examines the Chinese from Fujian who settled in these ports, formed hybrid merchant communities, and operated the junks that helped connect these ports to China, Japan, the rest of Southeast Asia, and beyond during a long period of flourishing Southeast Asian commerce.


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pp. 219-247
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