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Project No. 4

Qing Monetary Policies and the Lower Yangzi Economy, 1644 to 1850: The Interdependence between National Approaches and Regional Developments

The Qianlong Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Six: Entering Suzhou and the Grand Canal, Qing dynasty (1644-1911), dated 1770, Xu Yang (active ca. 1750-76), Chinese handscroll; ink and color on silk; 27 1/8 x 784 1/2 in. (168.8 x 1994 cm) Inscribed by Yu Minzhong (1714-1780); purchased by the Dillon Fund Gift, 1988 (1988.350) http://www.metmuseum.org/TOAH/hd/qing_1/hob_1988.350.htm

Research team

Project leader

Prof. Dr. Achim Mittag

Research fellow

Thomas Hirzel, M.A.



Project summary

This projects intends to explore Qing monetary policies and their impact on the economy of the Qing empire's economic heartland, the Lower Yangzi region, in the two hundred years period from the dynasty's founding in 1644 to 1850. Building on the insights gained from the research project of the first three-year period, the projected study takes up and further develops the key issue addressed therein, namely the Qing state's capability and efficiency in steering economic processes vis-à-vis growing political and socio-economic challenges. The proposed study sets out to survey the main views held on the complex relationships among currency, commerce, and prosperity, and the key debates that raged over monetary policies (Part I). The focus will then be shifted to the Lower Yangzi region to study how monetary policies, as envisioned by the central government, were put into practice. Special attention will be paid to the administration's measures to control the quantity and quality of the circulating cash coin and to curb abuses such as counterfeiting and hoarding (Part II). This in-depth study will be supplemented by two case studies: One will discuss the impact of the Sino-Japanese trade on the commercialization and monetarization of the Lower Yangzi economy (Part III), while the other will explore Emperor Qianlong's six Southern Tours, which severely affected currency circulation and commerce in the Lower Yangzi region (Part IV). These four inquiries will be rounded up by a final discussion of the initial question of the Qing state's organizational capacity (Part V).

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