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Introduction: Link-Points In A Half-Ocean

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Chapter Summary

The region of the East and South China Seas is often studied either from a regional or from a colonial perspective. This chapter argues that different patterns of trading and power relations formed overlays that changed slowly over the centuries and influenced each other. Thus understanding the changes of 1839 and after requires a long-term perspective. Such a perspective is possible through the Lidai baoan, a compilation of manuscripts written in Chinese relating to Ryukyuan contacts with China, Korea, and eight Southeast Asian countries (or more precisely, port towns), covering the period for 444 years from 1424 to 1867. The trade network, or what may be called the Ryukyu network, was founded upon the Ryukyu tribute trade with China. The Hong Kong colony became an entrepot for Chinese migrants bound for Southeast Asia, a stable source of the labor Western powers needed to develop their colonies.

Keywords:East China Seas; Hong Kong; Korea; Lidai baoan; migration; Ryukyu network; South China Seas; tribute trade



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