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  • Das Songzetliche Quanzhou im Spannungsfeld zwischen Zentralregierung und Maritimem Handel: Unerwartete Konsequenzen des Zentralstaatlichen Zugriffs auf den Reichtum einer Küstenregion (Quanzhou caught between central government and maritime trade during the Song period: Unexpected consequences of the central state's grasp on the wealth of a coastal region)
  • Mathieu Torck (bio)
Angela Schottenhammer . Das Songzetliche Quanzhou im Spannungsfeld zwischen Zentralregierung und Maritimem Handel: Unerwartete Konsequenzen des Zentralstaatlichen Zugriffs auf den Reichtum einer Küstenregion (Quanzhou caught between central government and maritime trade during the Song period: Unexpected consequences of the central state's grasp on the wealth of a coastal region). Münchener Ostasiatische Studien, vol. 80. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2002. 428 pp. €74, ISBN 3-515-07922-x.

Around the turn of the first millennium, Quanzhou grew into a thriving port that came to play a prominent role in the international trade network linking up the various corners of Asia. This economic boom produced an influx of luxury goods for the Song state's leading class and also became a formidable tax resource. The state's gradual encroachment upon the wealth of maritime trade eventually lead to a financial crisis. In this impressive monograph, which—with minor adjustments—constitutes the author's habilitation, Angela Schottenhammer thoroughly analyzes the various factors that determine the development of this economic boom and the gradual involvement of the central government into this trade. With a Braudelian approach to her subject, the author opens up an incorporative view of the mechanisms by which the Song leaders actively stimulated maritime commerce against the paradoxical background of the condescending Confucian attitude toward trade. The author demonstrates that the flourishing trade center of Quanzhou was such a remarkable economic landmark and, subsequently, how the central Song government eventually drew upon the riches that this trade produced for its own needs.

In her introduction to themes and methodology, the author provides a background that shows how the topic has been previously addressed. She reveals the weaknesses that characterize and impede the road toward a thorough understanding of the historical processes that underlie the developments in the Quanzhou trade. Schottenhammer focuses on four determinants that characterize her approach. First, she highlights the importance of the interaction between micro-and macro-history. Second, she attaches special importance to technological history and the monetary policies. Schottenhammer draws data from a wide variety of sources, both written (official histories, encyclopaedic works, stone inscriptions) and nonwritten (archaeological finds such as shipwrecks, remains of kilns). Finally, in referring to the bias of texts authored by members of the ruling elites, Schottenhammer advocates caution in order to avoid misleading statements and conclusions. [End Page 253]

Chapter 1 traces the origins of economic development in the Quanzhou region from the third century C.E. to the last independent kingdom of Min, with its strong maritime focus. Schottenhammer downplays the view that during the Tang dynasty Quanzhou was already a center of a booming silk trade as it was for ceramics. Progress and production in agriculture were considerable, but there were no real incentives to produce for export. Sea trade was in luxury products, and, according to the author, the dominance of Arab and Persian sea merchants does not necessarily point to a flourishing trade in Quanzhou.

Chapter 2 displays the financial policies of the Song state and shows the evolution of the way in which maritime trade was regulated and administrated by the state. Because of increasing tribute payments, and military expenses in particular, the financial pressure on the Song government was constant and exacerbating. Therefore, maritime trade was a significant source of income. From the end of the eleventh century onward, an increasing number of areas of economic life were integrated in the financial planning of the central government. This was a time of conflicting factions with respect to reforms of the tax system. As a result of Wang Anshi's reforms under Emperor Shenzong (r. 1067-1085), central government officials assumed administrative posts in the province with the goal to draw more wealth into the state treasury. Because of the heavy resistance from the local gentry, the reforms were reversed after Shenzong's death. The need for the installment of a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 253-259
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-31
Open Access
No
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