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The Celestial Shopkeeper: The Growth Of A Chinese Commercial Class In Mauritius

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Chapter Summary

Towards the end of the 18th century, developing trade links between Canton and Port Louis enabled China to import teak and mahogany wood from the Isle of France for ship construction, while French traders brought back a whole gamut of Chinese products to their island-such as rosewood and porcelain. Inevitably, these commercial links brought Chinese merchants to the island as voluntary immigrants. This chapter charts the immigration and settlement of a Chinese commercial class in Mauritius. In addition to seeking to meet the needs of a broad clientele, the Chinese shopkeepers operated sophisticated and complex systems of credit, drawing up notes of goods given to customers ranging from wealthy white proprietors to poor labourers. For the Chinese shopkeeper the constant demand of its clientele for alcoholic beverages, was not only a stock issue, but necessitated keeping abreast of ever changing laws regulating its quality and supply.

Keywords: Chinese commercial class; Chinese immigrants; Chinese shopkeeper; Chinese traders; Isle of France; Mauritius



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