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THE CHANGING SIGNIFICANCE OF LATIN AMERICAN SILVER IN THE CHINESE ECONOMY, 16TH–19TH CENTURIES

  • Richard Von Glahn (a1)

Abstract

The important role of Chinese demand for silver in stimulating worldwide silver-mining and shaping the first truly global trading system has become commonly recognised in the world history scholarship. The commercial dynamism of China during the 16th-19th centuries was integrally related to the importation of foreign silver, initially from Japan but principally from Latin America. Yet the significance of imports of Latin American silver for the Chinese economy changed substantially over these three centuries in tandem with the rhythms of China's domestic economy as well as the global trading system. This article traces these changes, including the adoption of a new standard money of account—the yuan—derived from the Spanish silver peso coin.

El importante papel de la demanda china de plata para estimular la extracción de plata en todo el mundo y dar forma al primer sistema de comercio verdaderamente global se ha reconocido comúnmente por los investigadores de la historia mundial. El dinamismo comercial de China durante los siglos XVI-XIX estuvo relacionado integralmente con la importación de plata extranjera, inicialmente de Japón pero principalmente de América Latina. Sin embargo, la importancia de las importaciones de plata latinoamericana para la economía china cambió sustancialmente a lo largo de estos tres siglos en combinación con los ritmos de la economía doméstica de China y con el sistema de comercio mundial. Este artículo rastrea estos cambios, incluida la adopción de una nueva moneda estándar de cuenta, el yuan, derivada del peso de plata español.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Footnotes

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University of California, Los Angeles, History. vonglahn@history.ucla.edu

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References

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THE CHANGING SIGNIFICANCE OF LATIN AMERICAN SILVER IN THE CHINESE ECONOMY, 16TH–19TH CENTURIES

  • Richard Von Glahn (a1)

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