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Chapter Three Feeding China

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates how the Qing regime managed to find more rice to feed the increasing Chinese population from the early eighteenth century onwards. When the coastal regions could not feed themselves, and neighbouring provinces which had traditionally offered assistance faced the same problem, the maritime region and its people naturally looked to the seas for help. "Feeding China" forced the Qing court to come up with a policy that stimulated trade from Siam as that agrarian kingdom transformed into Thailand, the focus of sections of one and two of the chapter. Section three of the chapter traces the indigenisation of maize and the foreign yam during the Qing. On one hand, Southeast Asia drained the overpopulation in China, and on the other it fed the increasing number of mouths. Southeast Asia helped write the legacy of China's "last golden age".

Keywords:Chinese population; foreign yam; puffed maize; Qing regime; rice import; Siam; Southeast Asia; Thailand



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