Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
The Local Economy of Szechwan during the Qing Period : The Formation of Cotton Industry substituted the Import and Baxian 巴県 Brokers
Susumu Yamamoto
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1991 Volume 100 Issue 12 Pages 2005-2035,2154-


According to G.W. Skinner in China local markets are systematically integrated by a traffic network and form a wided ranging market. His thinking is quite new in that he explains the integration of higher ranking and lower ranking markets, but he overlooks the counter connection between them. This study shows through a study of the cotton trade that in Szechwan some regions were integrated into a national market and others remained independent of it. From the mid-Qing period, the indigenous cotton industry of Szechwan developed in the Tuojiang and Fujiang 沱江・〓江 vallies, north-west of the Szechwan basin. Its raw cotton and cotton cloth was sold in the surrounding prefectures and provinces. On the other hand to the east and south where Yangtze 長江 flows through, the import of raw cotton from Hupei province continued, but there the imported cotton was woven into cloth and sold to neighboring regions. Between these two cotton producing areas there were location that imported both Szechwan and Hupei cotton. In Szechwan te the largest entrepot for the import of cotton and export of rice was Baxian 巴県 (重慶). Here over 10% to the half of all the 牙行 (brokers) in Szechwan would gather to play middleman between Szechwan and other provinces. Hupei cotton was imported to Szechwan through cotton brokers, cloth brokers, and sundries brokers. But as soon as indigenous cloth (Szechwan cloth) began to flow to Baxian in during the early 19th century, the import of Hupei cloth decreased and the cloth brokers found it difficult to maintain their businesses. Sellers of native cloth could directly sell it to native cloth shops without the mediation of reliable cloth brokers because it was local product. So the cloth brokers accused native cloth shops of not paying bang fei 〓費 (a kind of business tax on trading) and reported them to the Baxian authorities. The government ordered local shops to pay the tax; but neither prohibited trade of native cloth nor put the shops under mediation by brokers. Therefore, the brokers could not bring the cloth shops into their trading system and declined as the amount of imported cloth decreased. The cloth brokers represented the economy which depended on imported goods; and the indigenous cloth shops represented the economy which substituted for imports. The decline of the former and development of the latter show that the economy of Szechwan was becoming independent of the national market.

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© 1991 The Historical Society of Japan
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