Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Foreign Trade
(2,837 words)

1. Developments through 1949

Until the beginning of the 19th century, China's foreign trade was in the hands of Chinese merchants and officials and their trading partners from Asia, increasingly also from Europe. Data on the volume and structure of foreign trade from that era is sparse. It was certainly not free trade in the narrower sense of the term. Foreign trade was viewed much more as a form of the tribute trade (tributary system) and lay under government control. Al…

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Klenner, Wolfgang, “Foreign Trade”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 05 March 2024 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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