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After the Ming dynasty prohibited private overseas trade in 1374, China’s once-flourishing maritime commerce languished until the 1520s, when a boom in Japanese silver mining impelled Chinese mariners to flock to Japan for the monetary metal in high demand in China. Dubbed “Japanese pirates” (Wokou) by the Ming government, these Chinese entrepreneurs developed multinational merchant coalitions and trade networks (including Japanese and Portuguese traders) across the East/Southeast Asian maritime world. The Wokou also became crucial allies of the daimyo of western Japan, embroiled in civil wars and eager to obtain both trade revenue and Portuguese gunpowder weapons. Ming military campaigns in 1548–1557 eliminated many Wokou leaders, but the smuggling trade proved intractable and the Ming lifted its maritime ban in 1567. The Wokou era also witnessed – albeit temporarily – the emergence of the “port polity” as an alternative to the Chinese imperial model of political economy within East Asia.
Sung dynasty managed weapons production through the Armaments Section of the Salt and Iron Monopoly Bureau of the State Finance Commission, which was in charge of financial administration. The use of gunpowder weapons increased during the middle and late periods of the Southern Sung. The Sung did not usually establish specialized organs for military logistics; for the most part the various administrative levels of the government were responsible for logistics and supply during times of both peace and war. At the start of the Southern Sung the most pressing task for the court was the reorganization of military forces for resisting the Chin armies. In examining the course of the Sung-Chin war it becomes clear that between 1127 and 1128 the Chin armies had only occupied between ten and twenty prefectures and military prefectures; not even the transportation and communication lines leading to the Yellow River were controlled by the Chin.
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