The Marketing System in Pre-Modern China

Carol H. Shiue

in Chinese Studies

ISBN: 9780199920082
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
The Marketing System in Pre-Modern China

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  • East Asian Studies
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The idea that people can improve their welfare by trading can be found in the late Ming work of the high-ranking official Qiu Jun (1420–1495) in an oft-cited text called Daxue yanyi bu (Supplement to the Exposition on the Great Learning), which was presented to the emperor in 1487. Qiu Jun starts by explaining that a market is “a central place where people whose conditions of livelihood allow them to produce more of one thing and less of another met to exchange their surplus with those whose different conditions of livelihood provided them with different surpluses and lacks.” Modern economics textbooks have a very similar description of markets. A “market” denotes a time and place where people have agreed to meet to buy or sell goods or services through money or barter. Markets are important for increasing the immediate welfare of the buyer and seller. Descriptive histories of markets in China also provide us with a sense of whether trade is voluntary or controlled, and who is controlling the market; both are important for understanding changes in market efficiency over time. This bibliography surveys studies on the market in China, spanning the period from the Tang dynasty to the Republican period, focusing on commodity markets rather than factor markets (e.g., labor markets or land markets). Over the past several decades, researchers have accumulated increasing evidence of the nature and the function of markets in China, their scope, and the efficiency of marketplace transactions in comparison to other advanced areas of the world as of the mid-18th century. One of the key implications that has emerged from this research is that despite the presence of an autocratic state, markets were functioning relatively well in China in the premodern period. More recently researchers are starting also to come to a better understanding of China’s role in the world economy in history, and, more controversially, the impact of Western imperialism on China’s integration with global markets from the 19th century to today.

Article.  10572 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Studies ; Asian History ; East Asian Philosophy ; East Asian Religions

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