Late Imperial China Lecture Series - George Qiao, Amherst College, “The Significance of the Frontier Trade in Early Modern China”

Late Imperial China Lecture Series
Friday, April 5, 2024

 Join us for the Late Imperial China Lecture Series!

George Qiao, Amherst College, “The Significance of the Frontier Trade in Early Modern China” 

Abstract: This talk outlines the development of long-distance trade in China’s northern frontier regions in the Qing era (1644-1912).  The expansion of the Qing empire created the conditions for Chinese commercial penetration of Manchuria, Mongolia, and Xinjiang for the first time in history. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, numerous traders and migrants from north China—exemplified by the famous Shanxi merchants—swamped into these peripheral areas, turning them into new and profitable marketplaces. While previous scholars know about this phenomenon, few have fully grasped its extraordinary significance.  I argue that the rise of the frontier trade not only reshaped the economies of the various frontier societies but also transformed the Chinese commercial landscape, giving rise to powerful new merchant groups and new business practices. While the frontier trade helped the Qing Empire to consolidate control over these peripheral territories, it also reconfigured the social fabric in North China’s local communities. Without comprehending the significance of the frontier trade, we cannot fully understand early modern China's many economic changes and sociocultural transformations. 

This is co-sponsored event by the East Asia Center and Corcoran Department of History!