Prosperity and decline under the Qing : Yangzhou and its hinterland, 1644-1810




Finnane, Antonia

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This thesis is concerned with identifying the physical, social and economic characteristics of a particular Chinese city, Yangzhou, and with examining the nature of the relationship between this city and its hinterland. These questions are considered within the time frame provided by the growth and decline of Yangzhou in the Qing dynasty. Chapter 1 is devoted to a survey of the city's earlier history up to the beginning of the Qing dynasty, and illustrates the historical dependence of the city on geo-political factors related to the nature of imperial power. In Chapter 2, the city's transition from the service of one imperial power, the Ming, to the service of another, the Qing, is described and discussed. In Chapter 3, an attempt is made to define the city's immediate hinterland with a view to establishing the parameters within which the relationship of the city and its region might meaningfully be discussed. Chapter 4 is devoted to a consideration of the hydraulic problems in Yangzhou's hinterland and of how they were approached in the early Qing. Chapters 3 and 4 together suggest the general backwardness of the rural areas and inland cities of central Jiangsu compared to the region's dominant city, Yangzhou. Against this background, an inquiry is then undertaken into the role of the salt trade, salt officials and salt merchants in the administrative and economic organization of the city and its hinterland. Chapters 5-7 are broadly directed towards illustrating the fact that the major benefits from the salt monopoly accrued to Yangzhou at the expense of the well-being of its hinterland. In Chapter 8, through a survey of trade routes and trade movements in central Jiangsu, the significance of other market activities for the relationship between the city and its hinterland are considered. Chapter 9, concerned exclusively with the commercial and social character of Yangzhou, reveals the city as primarily consumer-oriented. In the tenth and concluding chapter, evidence of the city's incipient decline in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is presented with some discussion of the implications of this process for an understanding of the city's relationship both with the metropolis and with its own hinterland.






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