AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 97

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Session 97: Shifting the Balance of Power: Maritime East Asia in 17th Century

Organizer: Patrizia Carioti, University of Naples 'L'Orientale', Italy

Discussants: , , ; Patrizia Carioti, University of Naples 'L'Orientale', Italy

The 17th Century can be considered one of the most complex and intriguing period in the history of Maritime East Asia. The founding of the Tokugawa Regime, in 1603, by Tokugawa Ieyasu was the first significant event. Yet, in few decades, Ieyasu’s welcoming international policy was replaced with the severe restrictions enacted by the third shōgun Iemitsu, according to the so called “sakoku” policy. In the meanwhile, the Ming-Qing transition exploded, shaking the Chinese Empire and directly involving the Southern coastal regions, where the courageous resistance headed by the Zhengs had its stronghold. Moreover, the aggressive policy of expansion pursued by the VOC, the Dutch East India Company, led to significant changes in the international balance of Maritime East Asia: Portuguese and Spanish, in fact, were inexorably declining. The entire context of Maritime East Asia was interested by the unstable and volatile international setting. The panel starts with Ubaldo Iaccarino’s paper on the foreign policy pursued by Tokugawa Ieyasu, whose aim was to establish direct connections with the America, using the Spanish mediation and support: it depicts the welcoming political climate of Early Tokugawa Japan, as well as the importance of the sea-trades for the Japanese archipelago. Iioka Naoko’s paper deals with the silk trade network based in Japan, after the severe laws enacted by Tokugawa shogunate: with the expulsion of the Portuguese in 1639, the sea-trade network was definitively taken and carried on by the Chinese merchants and by the VOC. Manel Ollé, shows the important changes occurring on the international context of maritime Eat Asia: the Spaniards in The Philippines were deeply suffering the severe policy pursued by the Japanese archipelago; at the same time, the outbreak of the Ming-Qing conflict exerted a deep influence on Spanish Manila too. Paola Calanca’s paper closes the session: it focuses on Xiamen island, crucial arena of the Ming-Qing confrontation. Calanca’s research takes into examination the development of the city itself, with regard to the socio-economic situation of Xiamen island before, during and after the Ming-Qing turmoil.

Shaping Japanese Foreign Policy: Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Idea of Manila-Uraga-Acapulco Triangle
Ubaldo Iaccarino, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Italy

At the end of the XVI Century, after the founding of Manila the Spaniards promptly established sea-trade and connections with the Japanese merchants tied up with Kyushu daimyos; in 1592 entered Japan for the very first time and in 1598, they started an intense correspondence with Tokugawa Ieyasu. Since the beginning of their relations, the Tokugawa shogun clearly asserted his new ideas regarding Japanese foreign trade and commercial policy. The present paper presents Spanish interaction with Japan from 1598 to 1624, focusing on the role held by the Spanish Crown in the establishment of the Tokugawa hegemony. It discusses the Hispano-Japanese sea-trade within the East Asia commercial network, taking in due exam several primary sources such as Ríos Coronel, Morga, Cevicos et al. Moreover, this paper throws a new light on Tokugawa Ieyasu’s ‘Philippine policy’, as it follows: 1. the increase of silver production, thanks to Mexican mine engineers and their brand-new techniques for mineral digging; 2. the possibility of substituting Chinese gold imports –mediated by the Portuguese– with bullions from New Spain; 3. the design of commercial expansion toward the American Continent along with the shuinsen project; 4. the demand of Spanish shipbuilders and the emulation of the Sevillian Casa de la Contratación.

The Tonkin-Nagasaki Silk Trade during the Seventeenth Century
Naoko Iioka, , Netherlands

During the Seventeenth Century, Chinese raw silk was one of the most coveted commodities and Japan was the biggest importer of raw silk in East Asia. Initially, the Portuguese and Japanese traders controlled a considerable amount of the raw silk imported into the Japanese market. Yet, at the end of the1630s, when the Tokugawa bakufu suspended Japanese overseas commerce and expelled the Portuguese from the Japanese archipelago, the Dutch East India Company and the Chinese private traders took over their positions. Nevertheless, that did not necessarily mean the end of Portuguese or Japanese involvement in the trades reaching Japan. In fact, both the Portuguese and the Japanese merchants found a solution in making use of the Chinese private traders plying the China sea-region. Tracing the changing patterns of the interregional silk trade from the 1630s to the 1690s, this paper explores the dynamics of competitions among international trade intermediaries, as well as the interplay between political powers and commerce in the East Asian maritime world.

The Philippine Islands in the 17th Century Maritime East Asia
Manel Olle, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Taking into consideration The Philippines Islands from the 17th Century Maritime East Asia perspective, we can observe a very dynamic and adaptive process, that shows some contradictory trends. On one side, there is an evolution of the Spanish imperial policy, from a first phase of expansionist strategy to a more conservative approach, implying territorial and political stagnation. On the other side, we do recognise a very profitable Spanish transpacific commercial route –the Manila Galleon–. Moreover, the Spaniards in The Philippines established several connections with the Chinese sea-merchants and their trade networks, as well as with other formal and informal mercantile groups and organisations. The present paper examines Manila’s relationship with the Portuguese, its ties with the Chinese merchants, its confrontation with the Dutch East India Company. Moreover, the paper takes into consideration how the changing foreign policy of 17th Century’s Japanese and Chinese Empires deeply influenced the entire international context, having direct impact on the Spanish political stances in The Philippines.

Xiamen: Haven of Peace in the Midst of the Storm?
Paola Calanca, Ecole Francaise d Extreme-Orient, France

Following witnesses’ accounts, the Minnan region, and more specifically the Zhangzhou and Quanzhou districts around Xiamen island, extremely suffered the Ming-Qing dynastic transition wars. Situated between these two prefectures, the island was one of the Zheng Regime’s strongholds during those difficult years of disturbance, to become later on, a strategic place in Fujian for the Manchu’s Empire as well. In the present paper, we analyze the socio-economic situation of Xiamen island before, during and after the Ming-Qing turmoil, focusing on the demographic and sociological changes, the clanship equilibrium in the area, and the inhabitants’ relationship with the neighbouring villages and cities. We also examine the development of the city itself, resulting from those dramatic historical events.