Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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(1,389 words)

The history of modern Chinese enterprises and entrepreneurs can be traced back to the first flourishing of merchant capitalism at the end of the Ming dynasty (16th to early 17th centuries). When the Europeans settled at the Chinese coast 300 years later, they had to take into account the strength of, and the cohesion between, these merchants. The merchants financed and controlled regional and interregional trade as well as craftsmanship, which developed in rural homes and specialized urban workshops. The Chinese entrepreneurs were organized in networks, which were based on famil…

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Bergère, Marie-Claire, “Entrepreneurs”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 02 March 2024 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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