History of foreign affairs in Asia had always been an interesting topic to look at. What was once considered an economically successful continent from 1500-1800, is mostly composed of what is considered as the ‘developing world.’ The complexity of trade within and outside of Asia added to the success of the continent from the 16th up until the 18th century. Being a short essay, this paper will simply look at one country from each region: East, South and Southeast Asia. Even examining these three countries require a lot more than what this paper will go through. Hence, the essay will be based mostly on the following questions: What was the nature of economic activity in Asia between 1500 and 1800? What role did the West play? Was there much Intra-Asian trade in which the West did not play a significant role in? And in keeping it simple, the paper will first look at each regions individually.
During the 16th century, China was in a transitional phase between the Ming and Qing Dynasties. From the very beginning, the Ming was very defensive of their empire. They wanted trade to occur under their terms. And paying tribute to the empire was the only way in which goods can be exchanged within Asia; trade with the Europeans, however, were somewhat different. Nonetheless, they were still expected to follow the rules. The Ming controlled the size and regularity of merchants that were allowed to enter only selected city ports for transactions. However, such system proved unfavorable with the emergence of East Asian maritime trade between the Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and Chinese merchants. Leading to the abandonment of the system in the late 16th century.
Agriculture was the main driving force for commercial activity. Crops, such as maize, sweet potatoes, peanuts and tobacco were introduced to China as a result of it. The ability to farm New World crops made it possible for villagers to cultivate previously unused land because they were too hilly or unfertile. Fuelled by the abundance of production and the nutritional values enhanced by these foreign crops, population growth heightened. Enhancing success, this led to an improvement in agricultural techniques. All of which also increases market town. Trade also brought in silver coins from the Spanish that resulted to the usage of currency. Although money was used during the dynasty, they were not a capitalist country for a number of reasons, which will not be explored here.
The downfall of the Ming Dynasty after the 1600s, due to a series of “financial, military and political problems” allowed for the upbringing of a new one. In the 18th century, the Manchus entered China and began building an empire of their own. Named the Qing Dynasty, it is considered to be one of the most booming periods of Chinese history. With a huge and diverse economy as well as highly populated regions and diversity of crops, similar to that in the Ming Dynasty, it is no wonder why the Qing Dynasty was...