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Famine’s Foes In Ch’ing China

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Chapter Summary

There are at least two good reasons to choose the eighteenth century as the principal period for a study of state famine relief. For one, as Will notes in his introduction, there exists a rich range of sources concerned specifically with state famine relief-on general political principles, particular government policies, and individual cases of actual official practices. A second reason to focus on the eighteenth century in a study of state famine relief lies in the relative strength of the state during this period. Owing to organizational innovations and expanding fiscal resources, the eighteenth-century Chinese state enjoyed a larger capacity to intervene in subsistence crises than had been true in earlier centuries. The scale of the Ch'ing state's famine relief efforts would have confounded the imaginations of its European contemporaries. The Ch'ing state did more to relieve famine victims than its European contemporaries.

Keywords: Ch'ing state; Chinese; European contemporaries; famine relief; fiscal resources; government policies



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