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新书 | China and Southeast Asia: Historical Interactions

China and Southeast Asia: Historical Interactions

Published January 8, 2019
Reference – 382 Pages – 39 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9780415589970 – CAT# Y110244
Series: Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia

Editor(s) Bio

Geoff Wade researches Asian connections and interactions, both historical and contemporary. His recent publications include Asian Expansions (2015) and Anthony Reid and the Study of the Southeast Asian Past (ed. with Li Tana, 2012).

James K. Chin is Chair Professor in the School of Overseas Chinese Studies at Jinan University, China. His recent English language publications include Mapping Ming China’s Maritime World: The Selden Map and Other Treasures from the University of Oxford (ed. with Tianlong Jiao, 2015).

新书 | China and Southeast Asia: Historical Interactions - 海交史 - 1


 List of maps

List of figures

List of tables

Notes on Contributors


  1. Introduction                                                                         Geoff Wade and James K. Chin

Trading relations

  1. Hainan and Its International Trade: Ports, Merchants, Commodities (Song to Mid-Ming)Roderich Ptak
  2. China in India: Porcelain Trade and Attitudes to Collecting in Early Islamic IndiaJohn Guy

Political interactions in the Maritime Realm and Overland

  1. Ming China and Southeast Asia: Relations in the 15th  Century Geoff Wade
  2. The Portuguese Occupation of Malacca in 1511 and China’s ResponseLiao Dake
  3.  The Chinese Factor in the Shaping of Nguyễn Rule in Southern Vietnam during the 17th and 18th CenturiesDanny Wong Tze-ken
  4.  King Taksin and China: Siam-Chinese Relations during the Thonburi Period as Seen from Chinese SourcesJames K. Chin
  5. Upland Peoples and the 1729 Qing Annexation of the Tai Polity of Sipsong Panna, Yunnan: Disintegration from the PeripheryChristian Daniels 

Chinese Commerce in Southeast Asia

  1. The Rise of Chinese Mercantile Power in Maritime Southeast Asia, ca. 1400-1700Chang Pin-tsun
  2.  Chinese Traders in the Malay Archipelago, 1680-1795M. Radin Fernando
  3.  Cang hai sang tian(沧海桑田): Chinese communities in the 18th century Mekong deltaLi Tana  

China-Southeast Asian Interactions during the Age of European Imperialism

  1. Shifting Categorisations of Chinese Migrants in Burma in the Nineteenth and Twentieth CenturiesMichael W. Charney
  2.  Revenue Farming and the Chinese Economy of Colonial Southeast AsiaCarl Trocki
  3.  Towards a Geo-History of Asian Communism: The Case of Sino-Vietnamese Revolutionary Overlaps before DecolonisationChris Gosch 


Spanning over a millennium of history, this book seeks to describe and define the evolution of the China–Southeast Asia nexus and the interactions which have shaped their shared pasts.

Examining the relationships which have proven integral to connecting Northeast and Southeast Asia with other parts of the world, the contributors of the volume provide a wide-ranging historical context to changing relations in the region today – perhaps one of the most intense re-orderings occurring anywhere in the world. From maritime trading relations and political interactions to overland Chinese expansion and commerce in Southeast Asia, this book reveals rarely explored connections across the China–Southeast Asia interface. In so doing, it transcends existing area studies boundaries to present an invaluable new perspective to the field.

A major contribution to the study of Asian economic and cultural interactions, this book will appeal to students and scholars of Chinese history, as well as those engaged with Southeast Asia.


Geoff Wade and James K. Chin

The decline in the study of national histories over the last several decades has been mirrored by the growth in works which examine linkages between polities, societies and regions. Linkages, connections, interactions and flows across regions, continents and oceans have become the focus of new histories, in attempts to reveal the processes of change over the longue durée and the historical connectivities of peoples and societies beyond the borders of modern nation states. Even with the very contemporary political resurgence of stress on national borders, such writing has become necessary to explore and explain our increasingly collective condition and how we have arrived here.  The histories of economic systems, trading networks, human movement, and the spread of ideas and religions– almost always involving interactions across national and imperial borders –have become key topics of research in new historical writing, as have tracts on ecological and environmental histories.

The avenues through which such studies have been pursued go under various names –depending on scope—and include “world history” “global history”, or “transnational history”,  “connected history”, “shared history”, “regional history”. “transcultural history”,  and most recently “entangled history” (histoire croisée). These terms often overlap, however, in terms of the scope over which they engage, and the types of stories they tell.

The Mediterranean world, for example, is a sphere where regional histories have burgeoned and brought fame to various scholars, including particularly Fernand Braudel. The stress which Braudel assigned to geographical time, to the sea and to the long-term social, economic, and cultural historical processes, created a new form of history in which interactions across regions assumed an importance as great as events within individual polities.  Studies of the interactions which constituted the Atlantic world and the Indian Ocean World have also now been steadily incorporated into scholarly debate and teaching. Further, in a related phenomenon, with the aim of reversing the current trend towards increasingly shorter periods being examined in historical studies, Jo Guldi and David Armitage have laid out in The History Manifesto, the range of reasons for –and indeed desirability of – new attention being paid to longer-term histories.

In comparison to studies of the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean “worlds”, far fewer studies have been conducted on the interconnected maritime (or indeed other) realms in East and Southeast Asia, where the Pacific Ocean meets the East China Sea, the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea and, through it, the Indian Ocean. Cultural links, trading networks, human movements, and political aspirations have linked these regions for millennia. While there have been some efforts to describe this maritime realm as an “Asian Mediterranean,” not all are convinced of the validity of the comparison.

While studies of the interconnectedness of East Asia through maritime connections are not absent, the realm has certainly not been as fully treated as other areas of the globe.  Some works addressing this sphere have taken China as the key element of a realm where the maritime is but periphery, while others have deliberately focused on interactions across a maritime realm where China is one of several bordering polities.

The obvious deficiencies of studying Asian pasts solely through nation-state perspectives have been widely examined and need not be underlined here. In many ways, regional studies might also be criticized for the same deficiencies, albeit writ large. What then validates a collection such as the current volume, which examines historical interactions simply between the regions we today know as China and Southeast Asia? Why is such a range of relations informative beyond either more limited or larger rubrics of study?  As in most history-writing, the period in which we live provides the context. In our current age — post-colonial and post-Cold War — global relations remain in rapid flux and the interactions between the People’s Republic of China and the states of Southeast Asia in the early 21st century are undergoing profound change, perhaps one of the most intense  reorderings occurring anywhere in the world today. It is thus that the historical contexts of these relations command our attention.

The regions which we today know as China and Southeast Asia have, for millennia, been linked through a wide range of political, economic, and social interactions.  From the earliest times, the two regions have been tied by human movement, commercial interactions and political aspirations, and been woven together through technological and cultural interflows. However, the patterns by which these aspects were manifested have varied enormously over time. In recent centuries we saw the links being again repatterned, initially by the expansion of European mercantile interests and imperialist powers into both these regions, and subsequently by the revolutions which occurred and the regimes which emerged in 20th-century Asia during decolonisation. Today, in the early decades of the 21st century, the situation is undergoing change again, as we witness a resurgent China, a divided ASEAN, new capital resources, powerful external forces acting on both regions, and global ecological and technological changes which affect us all.

The essential importance of contemporary China-Southeast Asia relations and their genealogies requires us to reverse the neglect which the study and cognizance of intra-Asian historical links have suffered as a result of the creation of several political and intellectual borders. The first is the entrenchment between the 16th and the 19th centuries of the political borders between China and areas to the south of China which we today refer to as Southeast Asia, as the latter became politically subject to (or, in the case of Siam, greatly influenced by) European empires. The 19th-century establishment of British control of Upper Burma, and French control of Northern Vietnam and Laos, saw a firming of this political boundary between China (during the 19th century included in the Qing empire) and the Southeast Asian polities, and in fact bequeathed to us many of the modern boundaries of the nation-states of today. These political boundaries have been a major obstacle to the study and understanding of the historical links which had long tied and transcended the two regions. They have also, through the “area studies” field of scholarship, which developed in Western societies in the 19th and the 20th centuries, resulted in two distinct fields of scholarship – Chinese studies (Sinology) and Southeast Asian studies, the latter usually subdivided into the fields delimited by the various colonial (and then nation state) administrations.

In some ways, however, even the dichotomy represented when we speak of “China” vis-à-vis “Southeast Asia” is somewhat misleading given the modernity of the definitions and borders assigned to the terms. Areas of what is today southern China were long parts of a larger “Southeast Asian” world, with the speakers of Tai and Austroasiatic languages having emerged in areas south of the Yangzi River, regions now considered parts of “China”. The processes by which these areas “became China” are an element of the larger story told by some of the essays contained within this collection.

That said, this collection is intended to help describe and define the evolution of the China-Southeast Asia nexus — relationships which have been such an integral element in connecting both Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia with other parts of the world through time. By examining the modes and forms by which Chinese polities and societies interacted with their Southeast Asian counterparts, and vice versa, through approximately the last 1,000 years, we can perhaps begin to understand some of the contexts of contemporary East Asian relations. While the essays presented in this volume cannot of course provide a comprehensive history of China-Southeast Asia historical interactions, these studies will provide readers with a useful range of vignettes which plot points on the overall graph of these interactions.

If we are to classify the interactions which have tied the regions we today term China and Southeast Asia, we might employ five general categories, and it is within these categories that the essays contained within the volume can be introduced.

1、Economic interactions have always been key in the relations between Southeast Asia and China. These ranged from trade in diverse products and commodities through to remittance transfers, and included economic activities extending from primary agricultural production and mining to the financing of revolutions.

Roderich Ptak’s contribution to this volume, which examines the role of Hainanese ports as major entrepôts linking Southeast Asian and East Asian traders, reflects the importance of intermediate ports in facilitating maritime trade between these two regions.  It carries forward Ptak’s earlier studies of ports and navigation routes connecting China and Southeast Asia.   The relationships between port and polity in Southeast Asia has also been examined by Kathirithamby-Wells and Villiers,  while Mills and Manguin have contributed valuable studies on the maritime trade routes connecting these regions.

The economic roles of ethnic Chinese persons in Southeast Asian societies have been topics of much research over more than a century. However, few scholars have addressed the issue as directly as Chang Pin-tsun who has contributed an essay to this volume on the rise of Chinese mercantile power in maritime Southeast Asia between 1400 and 1700. He sees this process as developing after the dominance of the South and West Asians in Southeast Asian commerce, which extended up until the end of the 14th century, and lasting until the emergence of the maritime dominance of the Dutch in the region from the 17th century. James Chin Kong’s doctoral thesis on the Hokkiens also provides a useful overview of the development of Hokkien communities abroad during this period, while both the Tagliacozzo and Chang collection and the volume edited by Wang and Ng offer a wide range of studies on the activities of Chinese persons in Southeast Asia and their roles in the economic links between that region and China.

The trade goods which flowed between the ports of Southeast Asia and China are perhaps some of the best recorded aspects of the economic links between these regions. Paul Wheatley’s study of such trade goods during the 10th-13th centuries remains a key work for studying the commodities traded during this period. Later trade goods are detailed by Stephen Chang Tseng-hsin using listings in Zhang Xie’s張燮 Dongxi yangkao 東西洋考 of 1618.

One of the foremost categories of trade goods traded out of China in commercial quantities from at least the Song period was ceramics. Almost all archaeological sites across Southeast Asia bear evidence of the range and quantity of Chinese ceramics imported into Southeast Asia over the last 1,000 years. John Guy offers to this volume a paper which looks at the export of Chinese ceramics to the sultanates of early Islamic India over the 14th-17th centuries, primarily through Southeast Asian ports which were closely tied to the subcontinental Islamic polities.  Guy explores why the Indian subcontinent never provided a mass market for Chinese ceramics in the way that Southeast Asia clearly did, and instead saw select consumption of high quality wares at a succession of Indian courts.

The period following European colonization of various Southeast Asian polities and some China coast port cities was marked by European colonial administrations adopting many pre-colonial practices. One of these was the practice of sub-contracting tax collection to private operators, through farming out monopolies over commodities, a practice the British termed ‘revenue farming.’ Carl Trocki’s contribution to this volume explores the opium revenue farms under British-controlled colonies in Southeast Asia and Southern China. He examines acculturalized Southeast Asian Chinese (Baba/Peranakan) families and individuals who played a key role as compradors between the colonial administrators and the local populations and who acquired most of the revenue farms available in the Straits Settlements. This study investigates the growing links between the Singapore, Saigon and Hong Kong opium farm holders in the second half of the 19th century and how Penang and Singapore Chinese persons continued to be involved in the opium farms of Hong Kong and the China coast treaty ports right into the early 20th century. Again the intimate links between economic activities in Southeast Asia and southern China are underscored.

2、The political interactions between China and Southeast Asia constitute another key aspect of the relationships between these two regions, encompassing diplomatic engagement, military endeavours, political influence and empire extension.

Pre-modern political relations between China and Southeast Asia remains a debated sphere. A range of scholars including John King Fairbank, Wang Gungwu, Hamashita Takeshi, David Kang  and David Shambaugh argue for the ‘Chinese tribute system’ as having institutionalised a benevolent if hierarchical inter-state order in East Asia. An insightful critique of this acceptance of Chinese traditional rhetoric — of the idea that “because of its Confucian culture, China has not behaved aggressively toward others throughout history” — is provided by Wang Yuan-kang. Contrasting Confucian pacifism with cultural realism and structural realism, Wang examines imperial China’s realpolitik behaviour and concludes that “Ming China’s Confucian culture did not constrain its decisions to use force,” that “structural realism provides a better explanation of Chinese strategic behaviour than Confucian pacifism does,” and that “the presence of the tribute system did not translate into peaceful interstate relations.” Regardless of the interpretation one reaches, it is clear that political interactions between the polities of Southeast Asia and of China extended long before the modern era.

Liao Dake offers a study in this volume which examines interactions between the Melakan sultanate, the Ming court and the Portuguese who had attacked and occupied Melaka (Malacca) in 1511. Noting how the deposed Melakan ruler had sought assistance from China following his flight, the work records Chinese reactions to these events beyond its borders and to the arrival of Portuguese envoys in Ming China.  Liao assigns the failure of China to militarily respond to the Portuguese occupation of Melaka to dynastic decline, the later Ming’s retreat from the sea and a general ineptitude in Ming foreign policy making. This study is unusual in that, while we have works which examine Melaka-Ming relations, Portuguese-Ming links and Portuguese-Melaka relations, there are few studies like this which examine the triangular relationship.

Overall political relations between China and the states of Southeast Asia are explored more broadly in Geoff Wade’s essay contained within this volume. It comprises a chronological review of the policies pursued in respect of Southeast Asian polities by successive Ming emperors, and examines their effects on Southeast Asia through changes in Southeast Asia’s political, economic, technological and cultural topographies.

It is clear that nascent and developing polities in Southeast Asia often pursued relations with Chinese courts, and several essays within this volume look at some of these political interactions between Southeast Asian and East Asian polities. Danny Wong Tze-ken offers here a paper which examines the emergence of the Nguyễn polity in southern Vietnam, the perceived role of Chinese courts as a source of authority and legitimation, and the role of Guangdong officials as frequent mediators in the interactions.

James Chin examines another Southeast Asian polity, the new Thai state which was established by Taksin in the late 18th century, and its relations with the Qing court,  as well as with the Mạc polity of Ha-tien, the descendants of the Ayudhyan court, and the Burmese polity. This is a truly novel and revealing study which demonstrates how wide were the diplomatic links of the polities of mainland Southeast Asia, and how frequently they were engaged with the Qing court through Overseas Chinese intermediaries. It is also a useful study for examining how the Qing court used the Thai polity to pursue its political aims in Burma.

A different form of political interaction between the Manchu Qing state and Southeast Asian polities is investigated by Christian Daniels in his chapter. Looking at the changes which occurred among northern Southeast Asian polities, and especially Tai polities, during the 17th and 18th centuries, Daniels explores the processes by which the Qing expanded their control over polities on their southern borders. In particular, he looks at the expanding gaitu guiliu 改土歸流 process in Sipsong Panna under E’ertai in the 1720-30s, launching “the polity on the path towards full absorption into the Chinese state, a long journey that did not end until the 1950s.”

Bringing the volume into the modern era is Chris Goscha’s study of the interactions between Chinese and Vietnamese communism as part of a broader interrogation of the transnational nature of early Asian communism. His contribution overtly manifests the intent of this volume, to encourage scholars to explore histories beyond national boundaries. He does this by demonstrating “how regional linkages flowing out of the ‘pre-colonial period’ continued to exist in the late 19th and right into the 20th century,” and how such links are crucial to understanding the present relations between Northeast and Southeast Asia.

3、Human movement marks many of the interactions between the two regions, with  traders, entrepreneurs, labourers, migrants, military personnel and others moving between the two areas. Almost all of the contributions to this volume address this issue to varying degrees, generally examining the flow of Chinese person into Southeast Asia. Chang Pin-tsun’s chapter, for example, looks at factors such as population pressure in China, economic opportunities overseas, shipping technologies, maritime prohibitions, and Zheng He’s voyages, as elements in the rise of an ethnic Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia. Danny Wong’s essay also looks at the role of the Nguyễn rulers in facilitating the settlement of migrants from China within their realm, particularly following the end of Ming rule in China. Some of these persons went on to serve the Nguyễn court and, as James Chin shows, persons of Chinese descent such as Taksin assumed even the highest levels of political power in some Southeast Asian polities.

The activities of Chinese persons who moved to Southeast Asia are the subject of several of the contributions within this volume. Radin Fernando brings together the results of his decades of researching the Harbourmaster’s records of Dutch Melaka over the 17th and 18th centuries. By extracting from this collection—one of the largest archives on maritime trade in Southeast Asia over this period — the materials relating to Chinese traders, Fernando provides a valuable vignette of Chinese maritime operators trading through the port of Melaka.  Li Tana’s chapter, under the title of ‘Cāng hǎi sāng tián’  滄海桑田, which is a Chinese idiom referring to great changes occurring through time, examines the evolution of Chinese communities in Vietnam, particularly in the Mekong delta region from the 17th to early 19th centuries, in the context of the Southeast Asian ‘water frontier.’ This story connects with movements of Chinese persons to and from Batavia, Bangka, the Philippines, Cambodia, Siam and Terengganu based on an examination of Hokkien genealogies, Nguyễn chronicles, Minh Hương materials and European works.

The ways in which Chinese immigrant communities were categorised within a European colonial regime in Southeast Asia is the subject of the contribution by Michael Charney. Within the chapter, the growing awareness among colonial officials of differences among Chinese persons of diverse origins is examined. The evolution of British perceptions of Overseas Chinese in Lower Burma, as well as the Overland Chinese in Upper Burma, as economic tools to assist British expansion, provides a useful focus on the new European forces which were mediating relations between Southeast Asia and China during the 19th  century.

4、Technological flows have long been another key aspect of relations between China and Southeast Asia, often been coextensive with human flows. Three spheres which provide useful vignettes of such transfers are ship-building, firearms and ceramic technologies.  Southeast Asian and Chinese ship-building traditions have been detailed by Manguin and Needham respectively, while Manguin has also looked at the cross-influences between the Southeast Asian and Chinese shipbuilding traditions, and posits a hybrid South China Sea junk as resulting from interflow between the two traditions. Reid has also examined the role of hybrid ship-building in the broader scope of Sino-Javanese shipping.  In this volume, Danny Wong notes that ship-building was a Chinese specialty in southern Vietnam. The confession made by Li Wenguang to Qing officers in 1756 mentions that he went to Huế in 1744 with some friends to trade Chinese medicine, but soon they were sent to Đồng Nai to do logging and ship-building for the Nguyễn lord.  One of the newly-discovered Minh Hương materials from Vĩnh Long lists the names of 31 heads of this Chinese community from 1783 to 1847, and describes certain tasks carried out by each of them. Among the duties of the Chinese were tailoring robes for the officers, and ship-building and ship repairing.

One of the most original recent theses of Chinese influence on Southeast Asia during the 15th century is that of Sun Laichen, who has posited that Ming China greatly affected Southeast Asian historical trajectories through the introduction of firearms.  He has concluded that “the founding of the Ming dynasty in 1368 started the ‘military revolution’ not only in Chinese but also world history in the early modern period.” These weapons were certainly used in the Ming wars against the Vietnamese and the Tai polities in the 15th century and were particularly effective against the elephants which the Tai relied upon. Sun sees a significant transfer of Chinese military technology (specifically firearms) to the Vietnamese in the early Ming, particularly through the Ming occupation of the Việt polity.  Subsequently, he suggests, the Vietnamese used this new  technology to mount major military expeditions in the 1470s, into Champa, and then across through the Tai heartlands as far as the Irrawaddy. The adoption of firearms by most major Southeast Asian traditions followed soon thereafter. Similarly, in later centuries, as noted by Michael Charney in this volume, the Chinese whom the Burmese settled at Bassein were “made to manufacture gunpowder and fireworks.”

Chinese ceramics have been major products traded into Southeast Asia for well over a millennium. The obvious appeal of Chinese ceramics to the rulers and markets of Southeast Asia both before and during the early Ming, frequently gave rise to imitators within the region. The Si Satchanalai and Sukothai celadons of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries appear to have drawn from Chinese ceramic technologies, as did Vietnamese wares of the 14th and 15th centuries. Sharon Wong Wai-yee’s recent thesis on the connectivities between the Guangdong and Khmer ceramic traditions also shows clearly how Chinese and Southeast Asian technologies interacted, reflecting “technological choices and cross-craft interaction between Khmer and Chinese ceramic production.”

5、Cultural flows constituted yet another aspect of interaction, whereby linguistic influences, food, religious beliefs and other aspects of social practice also travelled with people who moved between these regions.

The direct political interventions mentioned above brought with them intense cultural influence. During the Ming occupation of Đại Việt in the first quarter of the 15th century, for example, the Ming introduced to Vietnamese society a wide range of practices which changed society in diverse ways. John Whitmore has discussed a number of these. The establishment of Confucian schools, as well as geomancy schools and medical schools in the Ming colony would certainly have had some impact on the population. However, it was the overall Ming administrative structure and procedures which existed for these 20 years, along with the presence of a huge number of Chinese persons which would have had most effect in changing society. However, whether all of the Ming policies — including that proposed during the occupation that the Vietnamese should adopt Chinese mourning customs–actually had long-lasting effect on the society is an issue which needs to be subject to much further study.

But much Chinese social influence in societies beyond China was not state-sponsored.  Rather it was effected by Chinese persons who moved to Southeast Asia. Certainly, the use of Chinese languages would have increased in the major port cities of Southeast Asia from the 15th century onwards. The adoption of Chinese terms for a range of food and other daily products in many of the major languages of the archipelago has also been a continuing process since then. Kong Yuanzhi has done much work on identifying Chinese lexical items borrowed into Malay and Indonesian,  while Russell Jones has also made a valuable contribution through his study of Chinese borrowings in Indonesian. However, determining the periods during which such borrowings were made is nigh impossible.

The spread of religions across Southeast Asia has also involved Chinese actors. The role of the Zheng He voyages in the early 15th century, and Chinese Muslims more generally, as being carriers of Islam throughout Southeast Asia is a topic which has continued to attract attention. Many of the members of the eunuch commanders’ retinues were Muslims and their voyages to the Middle East are likely to have also involved the hajj pilgrimage.  The Parlindungan/Poortman text, which appears to be derived at least in part from Chinese local accounts in Java, claims that there was a network of Chinese Hanafi Muslims throughout Southeast Asia in the 15th century, and that this network, which had derived from the Zheng He voyages, established the first Islamic communities in Palembang, Sambas and in various ports along the north coast of Java.  It seems wise to concur with Reid’s opinion that “More systematic work needs to be done, however, before [the Parlindungan/Poortman text] can be accepted as a credible source for the fifteenth century.”

The role of Chinese monks in the southward spread of Mahayana Buddhism is also engaged with in some of the studies in this volume. Danny Wong’s study makes reference to Nguyễn Phúc Trăn (r. 1687–1691), a pious Buddhist, who promoted the religion in what is today southern Vietnam by inviting Buddhist monks from China. The role of the Chinese monk Da Shan in spreading Chinese variants of Buddhism to the area around the Mekong delta is also examined.

The rise of Sino-Southeast Asian societies as a result of fairly large-scale migration of Chinese persons to Southeast Asia from the 15th century, with the consequent creation of hybrid food, hybrid languages and hybrid cultural expression has been discussed elsewhere by Reid.    He notes the marked contrast between Ma Huan’s account of Java in the early 15th century, which describes influential Chinese and Sino-Javanese communities, with the picture given by the Portuguese a century later. The Portuguese authors reported no resident Chinese or Sino-Southeast Asian communities of substance in Java. Reid suggests that “the Ming abandonment of state trading and progressive loss of interest in tribute after the 1430s, left Chinese communities little alternative than assimilation, while Islam provided a bond for the new identities being formed in the maritime cities…. The reabsorption of this creatively syncretic and newly Muslim element into a modern middle-Javanese identity was a long story of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.”   Li Tana’s chapter also posits acculturation as one of the reasons for the apparent disappearance of Chinese from southern Vietnam.

It appears that Chinese weights and measures also had some impact in the archipelago. In 1404, an envoy from Siam to the Ming court requested that Chinese “weights and measures be conferred upon them.”  Is there any evidence of subsequent changes to Southeast Asian metrological standards? This is difficult to assess, but business interactions certainly affected the weights and measures being used in Southeast Asia.   In the middle of the 16th century, in a Portuguese text of 1554, we read that “In Malacca the weight used for gold, musk, &c., the cate, contains 20 taels, each tael 16 mazes, each maz 20 cumduryns; also 1 paual 4 mazes, each maz 4 cupongs; each cupong 5 cumduryns.”  The “cate” and “tael” are the Malay terms for the Chinese jin (斤) and liang (兩) respectively.

The centuries of Sino-Southeast Asian interactions which are sketched within this volume, comprise a huge range of diverse phenomena but also a number of constancies. Firstly the sources on which our reconstructions have had to be based, particularly pre-1500, are far more often Chinese than Southeast Asian. This obviously conditions how we see and can represent these pasts. In a more concrete vein, the massive cultural, technological and economic strengths of successive Chinese states have frequently provided capacities for extensions – political and economic – to the south, whereas one of the very few examples of a cultural “push” northwards from Southeast Asia was that provided by the spread of Theravada Buddhism into what is today Southern China.  Human flows have also generally been southward, with more Chinese persons settling in Southeast Asian realms than vice-versa. This phenomenon has, throughout time, been partly driven by economic imperatives and, on occasions, by political maelstroms in China. Migration of Southeast Asians to China has generally been less significant. The histories of Vietnamese persons and their roles in Chinese societies in both the 15th and 20th centuries as described within these pages are examples of such northwards human movement. The nature of trade goods flows between the two regions is another constant characteristic. The pattern has, until today, mainly involved raw or unprocessed materials being shipped northwards to China, and manufactured commodities being traded south. Capital flows are more recent and are less easy to characterize, with massive Southeast Asian investments flowing into China in the decades following Deng Xiaoping’s reform and opening up from the early 1980s. In 2017, Singapore was the largest foreign investor in China. Since 2013, large amounts of capital have also flowed from China to Southeast Asia under President Xi Jinping’s externally-oriented agenda known as the “One Belt, One Road” or “Belt and Road Initiative”, whereby the Chinese state is attempting to create economic corridors across Eurasia, one maritime and one overland. 

How useful is the past for understanding the many changes now taking place in both Southeast Asia and China, and in the links that are binding these places ever closer?  The modernity which has already appeared — or is in the process of visiting itself upon — all the societies of Northeast and Southeast Asia, along with the ever-evolving technologies, will undoubtedly produce many new modes of interaction between these regions. Some of the current interactions are cooperative, while others such as the intense disputes over suzerainty in the South China Sea are obviously competitive.  Examining and comprehending the many facets involved in the historical processes which have linked these two regions will, it is hoped, provide contexts for, or otherwise illumine, aspects of the contemporary and future relations between China and Southeast Asia.

List of Figures

Chapter 3 Guy

Fig. 1, 2, 3 Chinese porcelain and other treasures being transported by cart, displayed and used; details of manuscript paintings preserved in the Istanbul Album, Aqqoyunlu Tabriz, later 15th century. Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul (H.2153).

Fig. 4.  Jar decorated with qilin, phoenixes and peonies in underglaze cobalt blue. Early Ming period, second-half 14th century, likely reign of Hongwu (1368-98).  Ht. 48 cm. From the collection of William Cummins formed in India 1864-83.  British Museum, London (O.A.1963.5-20.1)

Fig. 5.  Turkic nobleman with cloud collar robe, being offered wine from a blue-and-white porcelain ewer; detail of a manuscript painting from the Istanbul Album, Aqqoyunlu Tabriz, later 15th century. Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul (H.2153).

Fig 6. Presumed Chinese merchant receiving audience before Pallava king  Narasimhavarman II at Kanchipuram, first quarter 8th century. Vaikuntaperumal temple, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. Photograph Emma Stein.

Fig. 7. Fragment of a jar, Yuan polychrome and applied decoration in ogival cartouche, mid-14th century. Recovered from the Java Sea, Indonesia. Private Collection, Jakarta. Photograph John Guy.

Fig. 8. Porcelain jar with underglaze copper red and cobalt blue and applied decoration. Jingdezhen, mid-14th century, ht. 41.3 cm. Found Baoding. Hebei Provincial Museum.bv

Fig. 9.Wine ewers, monochrome white and underglaze cobalt blue. Early Ming – Yongle and Xuande periods – early 15th century. Excavated from the Zhushan Ming imperial kiln site, Jingdezhen, Jiangxi (After Liu Xinyuan, 1999).

Fig. 10. Porcelain bowl with underglaze cobalt blue design of a pair of ducks in aquatic landscape. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 11. Porcelain bowl with lotus bloom scrolling and a band of lotus petal cartouches in underglaze cobalt blue. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 12. Mughal couriers dining from blue-and-white and greenware dishes. Folio from an illustrated edition of the Baburnama, the life of emperor Babur, commissioned by his grandson, Akbar, c. 1590. British Library, London.

Fig. 13. Celadon dish with incised lotus bloom and scrolls. Yuan period, c. 1350.

Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 14.  Detail of a celadon dish glazed base with drilled naskh script inscription matbah-e khas,‘royal kitchen’. Yuan period, c. 1350. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 15. Porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of cloud-collar lappet design. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century excavated from Jingdezhen, Jiangxi (After Liu Xinyuan, 1999).

 Fig. 16. Detail of porcelain dish with reserved white-on-blue ground of four lappets (‘cloud collar’) design framing a central floral meander. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 17. Porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of eight-petalled medallion and reserved white lotus scroll with five blooms in the cavetto, Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 18. Porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of six-petalled medallion reserved in white-on-blue, enclosing circle with textile grid pattern, six cartouches in cavetto. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 19. Detail of porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of the auspicious Eight Buddhist Treasure in lotus petal cartouches imitative of metalwork (cf. fig. 19), with central medallion of a crane in flight, repeated in eight cartouches in cavetto. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 20. Cup stand decorated with the Eight Buddhist Treasures, silver with repouseé  decoration. Yuan period, 14th century. Diam. 15.6 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, 2006 Benefit Fund (2007.187).

Fig. 21. Detail of porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of eight paneled design with floral motifs reserved in white-on blue, Cusped edges imitative of metalwork.

Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 22. Detail of porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of moulded peony bloom and floral meanders reserved in white-on-blue hatched ground. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 23. Porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of two phoenix in flight amidst lotus and vines, repeated on the cavetto. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the

Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 24. Porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of an aquatic bird in garden landscape, with melon, grape vine and plantain; terrace wall in foreground. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 25. Porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of garden landscape of plantain, melon and grape vine. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 26. Detail of fig. 25: plantain and grapes.

Fig. 27. Porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of a carp swimming amidst waterweed. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

Fig. 28. Detail of fig. 27: tonal modelling of fish and pooling of cobalt in waterweed visible.

Fig. 29. Detail of a porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue design of a mythical winged qilin amidst foliate landscape. Yuan period, second-quarter of the 14th century. Excavated at the Tughlaq Palace of Firuz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi

Fig. 30. Akbar receiving the Iranian ambassador Sayyif Beg. Right-hand folio from a

double-page composition, from the Akbarnama. Composition by La’l, painting by

Ibrahim Kahar, Mughal, c. 1586-89. Gouache on paper; 30.8 x 19.1 cm. Victoria and

Albert Museum, London (IS. 2-1896, 27/117).

Fig. 31. Porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue lotus bloom design. Ming dynasty,

Xuande (r. 1426-35),  Jingdezhen, ca. 1430. Inscribed in nasta’liq script the property of Shah Jahan and dated AH 1038, equivalent to 1628. Courtesy Sotheby’s New York.

Fig. 32. Porcelain wine ewer with blue-and-white floral meander decoration. Xuande (1426-35), Jingdezhen. Inscribed and dated Shah Jahangir AH 1038, equivalent to 1628. Courtesy Christie’s London.

Fig. 33. Detail of cartouche of fig. 32, inscribed in Persian nasta’liq script.

Fig. 34. Monk’s cap ewer of white monochrome, Yongle period (1402-24), Jingdezhen. Inscribed in nasta’liq script the property of Shah Jahan and dated AH 1052, equivalent to 1643. Aga Khan Museum, Toronto (AKM 966)

Fig. 35. Detail of ogival cartouche of fig. 34, inscribed in Persian nasta’liq script.

Fig. 36. Porcelain dish with underglaze cobalt blue grapes and vine design, Ming dynasty, Yongle (r. 1403-24).  Jingdezhen, ca. 1420. Inscribed in nasta’liq script the property of Shah Jahan and dated Shah Jahan AH 1053, equivalent to 1643. Courtesy Sotheby’s New York.

Fig. 37 Detail of inscription of fig. 36, inscribed in Persian nasta’liq script.

Fig. 38. Porcelain dish with blue-and-white qilin design, Yuan dynasty, Jingdezhen, mid- 14th century. Inscribed in nasta’liq script the property of Shah Jahan and dated AH 1063, equivalent to 1653. Asia Society, John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection (1979.151)

Fig. 39.  Detail of inscription of fig. 37, inscribed in Persian nasta’liq script

 Chapter 10 Fernando

Figure 1 The Proportion of Chinese Traders  among  All Traders, 1682-1792

List of Tables

Chapter 8 Christian Daniels

Table 1 Activities of the Outlaws of Lukui Mountain, 1671–1724

Table 2 Han Migrants massacred by Woni (6 & 7/ 04/ Yongzheng 5) (May 26 & 27 1727)

Chapter 9 Chang

Table 1 Trade Model: China, Southeast Asia and India

Table 2 Trade Model with Transaction Cost: China, Southeast Asia and India

Table 3 Chinese communities in Southeast Asia 13th-early 17th century

Chap 10 Fernando

Table 1 Spatial Distribution of Chinese Population in Melaka, 1677

Table 2a Base of Operation of Chinese Traders, 1682-1742

Table 2b Base of Operation of Chinese Traders, 1761-1792

Table 3 Examples of Merchant Voyaging 1682-1742

Table 4 Examples of Merchant Voyaging 1760-1792

Table 5 Number of Trips per Trader

Table 6 Types of vessels used in particular years

Chap 11 Li Tana

Table 1 Remittances from Southeast Asia to China (via Hong Kong) in 1930

Table 2 Period of Arrival of Hokkien Persons in Southern Vietnam



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