Chapter 5 Ultra-marine trade: forms, structures and actors
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From the 16th to the 18th century, the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea formed an immense maritime region that prospered outside the limits of imperial jurisdiction, and where several port cities (Nagasaki, Canton, Macao, Sakai, and later, Manila and Batavia) were to assert themselves as the real centres of accumulation of wealth and knowledge. The influence of this maritime space expanded or contracted according to the power or weakness of the merchant networks that criss-crossed it. The conditions under which ultra-marine trade was undertaken - tributary trade, and long periods of prohibition of maritime activities - are investigated here. This situation in which merchants, smugglers and pirates cohabited was further complicated by the arrival of the first Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries. This chapter finally outlines a profile of the various players in maritime trade and an analysis of their profits outlets.

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