Asian Transitions in an Age of
Global Change
Stearns, Ch. 22
Chapter Summary
The Asian Trading World and the Coming of
• European Goods=Dollar Store
• Limited missionary success.
• Subsequent voyages map out the Asian sea
trading network. (see map on page 385)
Asian Sea Trading Network
Specializes in glass,
carpets and tapestries.
Cotton textiles
Paper, porcelain,
and silk textiles
Chinese Zone
Indian Zone
Portuguese Expansion
Portuguese Bases
Dominant Goods
• Arab Zone
Persian Gulf: Glass, carpets, textiles, horses
East Africa: Ivory, forest products, animal hides, gold, slaves
• Indian Zone
India: Cotton textiles, gems, elephants, salt
Sri Lanka: Cinnamon
• Chinese Zone
China: Paper, porcelain, silk textiles
Japan: Silver
Indonesia/Oceana: Spices, forest products. kangaroo poo (not in
high demand)
Two General Characteristics
of the Asian Trading Network
1.No government controlled it.
2.There was no military presence
for commercial exchanges.
So what? Can you see what's coming?
Might Doesn't Make Right
(but it can make you rich)
• Mercantilism and trading in bullion
 Fear that trade in gold or silver would enrich Muslim
• Portuguese resolve to seize markets by force.
 Create tribute regimes in Africa and India
 Defeat a combined Egyptian and Indian fleet.
• Portuguese set out to capture strategic ports.
Ormuz (1507)
Goa (1510)
Malacca (1511)
• Portuguese seek a monopoly on the cinnamon
and spice trade.
 Can set prices high.
 Institute a licensing system to control merchants
 Too difficult to enforce licenses evenly.
• Limited manpower
• Asian resistance, military deficiencies,
• In two words: rapid overexpansion.
And Another Thing
• Portugal's king dies without an heir.
 Succession dispute
 Spain's Phillip II claims the throne.
• Spain's enemies become Portugal's enemies.
 Bring on the English
 Bring on the Dutch.
Dutch Incursion
• Capture Malacca and build new port at Batvia
(on Java),1620
• Concentrate on East Indian spice trade.
• Able to beat back English who had to settle for
Dutch Trading Empire
• Fortified towns and factories
• Warships on patrol
• Limited number of products strictly controlled.
• Uprooted cloves, nutmeg, etc. on islands they did not control.
Wiped out peoples who tried to compete.
• Eventually learned that peaceful trade brought the highest
returns. Why?
Armies and navies, regulation and such cost a lot of money
Limits to Conquest in Asia
• Navies strong enough to take islands and coastal regions.
Portuguese choke-points
Dutch on Batvia and Java
English in India
Spanish Luzon and the Philippines
• Asian armies too strong far inland, logistical nightmares.
• Daily life left alone as long as leaders paid tribute.
Missionary Activity
• Mostly Catholic Spain and Portugal; Protestant Dutch and
English not so much. Why?
 Perhaps the Portuguese and Spanish zeal came from their
recent history of conflict with the Moors.
• Franciscan and Dominican missionaries set to work especially
in India.
 Why were Hindus more likely to convert than Muslims?
 Or were they?
• More success with lower caste than upper caste.
Horses of a Different
Color: China & Japan
(not racist)
• Farther away, so more isolated.
• See Europeans as barbarians.
• Not so easy to pushover.
The Ming Restoration
• Mongols completely out by 1368, and the Ming will rule
until 1644.
• Zhu Yuanzhang declared Hongwu emperor in 1368.
• Restoration of the central bureaucracy.
• New, stronger xenophobia
 Aim to remove all Mongol influence
 China as suspicious of outsiders as ever.
The Scholar-Gentry:
Back in Black
• Hongwu Emperor’s dilemma
• suspicious of scholar-gentry.
• needs a functioning bureaucracy.
• Confucianism revived; Confucian scholars earn the
highest imperial offices.
 Subsidies for academies and colleges
 Civil service examinations as important as ever.
The MP* Examination
(*Ming Placement)
• Remember The Examination
• Prefectural exams in two of every three years.
• Exams given in central compounds to supervise the thousands of examinees.
• Exam took several days; examinee slept & ate where he worked (small cubicle).
• Highest scores competed for few spots (4,000 candidates for 150 degrees).
• Provincial posts good; Imperial posts better.
• Crickets actually fight. I mean, yeah, I know. Wow!
Ming Reforms
• Fighting corruption.
 A good emperor can’t rely too heavily on his bureaucracy.
• Hongwu abolishes position of Chief Minister.
 Too powerful, too much of a rival.
 He assumes those powers himself, which will work as long as the
emperor is up to the task.
• Public beatings for dishonest, disloyal, or undiscplined officials.
 Beatings could be lethal.
 Even if you survived, the degradation was permanent.
• Emperors' wives could only be for humble origins
 Eliminates palace intrigue.
 Aristocratic families cannot meddle in the royal family.
 Limited number of eunichs; reduced their independent powers.
 Exiled potential rivals to estates in the provinces; barred them from
political activity.
 Thought control: Mencius's writings censored and forbidden on exams.
• Reforms work unless the emperor is inept or in attentive to
state matters.
Peasant Relief
• Hongwu had been a peasant...
• Promoted public works projects
 dike building
 irrigation systems to increase arable soil.
• A Chinese Homestead Act
 Anyone who cleared and worked unoccupied land could have it taxfree
• Reduced labor demands from imperial government and gentry
• Promote silk and cotton textiles as supplemental incomes.
• But as the rural gentry gained more power,
peasants lost.
• Loansharking and running gambling rackets
allowed them to foreclose on farm, reducing
Chinese yeomen to tenant farmers.
• Revising history:
 The wealthy gradually celebrated themselves as industrious
 Poor scorned as indolent.
Other Stratification
• Continued subordination of youths to elders,
women to men (per Confucianism)
 Violent measures taken to ensure people stayed in their place
 Women could have behind-the-scenes influence
 It was all at the man's pleasure.
 Women had to settle for what men offered.
Economic Growth
• Yangtze region benefits from Spanish and
Portuguese trade.
• New American foods (corn, sweet potatoes,
and peanuts) help fuel a population increase.
Zheng He
Chinese Naval Power
Ming Outreach
Ming Economic
• Economic problems exacerbated by rampant counterfeiting
(typical curse of paper money)
• "Single-whip" system based on silver currency.
• First source: Japanese silver; eventually replaced by Spanish
silver via trade with Spanish Philippines.
• Initial explosions in commerce slowed down by rapid influx of
American silver (from Spanish), devalues Ming currency over
Ming Decline
• Just as Europeans set their sights on China. Things start
turning bad for the Ming.
• Pirate raids on port cities disrupt trade and revenues.
• Portuguese establish themselves in Macao.
• Internal problems: 17th century famines, peasant revolts.
• In 1644, the Ming hire Qing warriors from Manchuria, but
instead of putting down the revolts, they host a coup d'état.
• Mings out; Qings (aka Manchus) in--will rule until 1912.
About Those
• New crops (cassava, corn, peanuts, potatoes,
etc.) from Europe, Africa, America, and other
parts of Asia were high in calories and easy to
• Allows for a huge population increase and
productivity boon.
• A mini-Ice Age (climate change!) hurt farming,
lots of people starve. WWAGD?
Qing/Manchu China
• They weren't ethnically Chinese; comprise only 3% of the
• Use language barrier as a way to remain ethnically elite (I'm
thinking of the Norman Conquest and the origin of some of our
"bad" words)
• No Chinese/Manchu intermarriage.
• Still, expediency required Chinese participation in the
bureaucracy, so the examinations become more important than
ever. Even the talented members of the lowest classes could
take examinations.
Not Chinese but Not
• Manchu emperors steeped in Chinese traditions. This
makes ruling the Chinese easier and more tolerable.
• Emperor Kangxi (r.1662-1722) was a Confucian
scholar, as was his successor, Qianlong (r.1735-1795).
• Both emperors support the arts & expansion
 Kangxi takes Taiwan and pushes into Mongolia, Central Asia, and
 Qianlong takes Vietnam, Burma, and Nepal.
Nature of Manchu
Conquest and Trade
• Not for the sake of conquering the world. No Alexander or Genghis Khan
ambitions. Focus on China's neighbors--buffer zones?
• Although the Manchu traded with Portugal, Britain, and the Netherlands,
they made sure to control trade relations. They were no pushovers.
• When they felt threatened culturally, they reacted fiercely. 1724:
Christianity banned. 1757: European trade restricted to Canton.
• Still, European trade thrived. Europeans bought silk, porcelain, and tea in
exchange for silver, which created a new merchant class in Chinese
coastal cities (where most of China's wealth and industry is to this day)
Japan's Unification
• Oda Nobunaga, an early proponant of firearms, begins
unification process in mid-16th century. Deposes last
Ashikaga shogun in 1573 but betrayed and killed,
• His general, Toyomoto Hideyoshi, continues the
unification process, breaking daimyo power, invades
Korea twice (fail) dies in1590.
• Tokugawa Ieyasu succeeded Hideyoshi. Emperor
makes him shogun in 1603. Political unity in Japan
from Edo (Tokyo), central Honshu province. Tokugawa
Shogunate lasts until mid 19th century.
Japanese and Europeans
• Since 1543 European traders and missionaries in contact with Japan.
• Trade consisted of firearms, clocks, and printing presses for silver,
copper, and artisan products.
• Firearms will changed Japan. Nobunaga adopts them, and Japanese
begin manufacturing their own.
• Nobunaga protected Catholic missionaries as a counter to his Buddhist
opponents. By 1580s there were hundreds of thousands converted.
• Hideyoshi has no Buddhist problem: they'd been crushed. So he sees
Catholicism as a threat. Knowledge of European conquests fuels his
• Hideyoshi enacts laws to limit foreign influences as early as the
• Christian missionaries evicted and Christians were persecuted
by 1590s. Christianity banned in 1614 by Ieyasu. After
unsuccessful rebellions, Christians driven underground.
• Ieyasu restricts European trade to a few cities; by 1640s only
Deshima (island port in Nagasaki Bay) is open to the Dutch.
Why just the Dutch?
• By 1630s Japanese merchants forbidden to sail overseas.
• European books were banned.
School of National
• To emphasize Japan's unique historical
experience and revival of indigenous culture-inoculate against Confucianism and other
Chinese influences.
• Some elites still follow Western developments,
but the mentality emerges that whatever isn't
Japanese is garbage.
In a Nutshell
• By 1700, after two centuries of contact, Europeans had little
impact on people's of south, southeast, and east Asia.
• Important trade routes linked Europe to Asia, but not too much
cultural diffusion. Exceptions include the Spanish Philippines
and key ports like Goa, Calicut, and Batvia.
• European economic domination of the Indian Ocean trade will
weaken Muslim ports and empires.
• Overall, Asian goods found their way to Europe, but European
ideas did not take hold in Asia.
• Chinese and Japanese isolationism will have long term (and
bad) consequences.

Asian Transitions in an Age of Global Change