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Chapter Summary

The seas shaped the Qing's political outlook and characterised its economic policy, while the foreign goods which came from overseas distinguished Qing court life and transformed Chinese consumer culture. The seas defined China's relations with the outside world too, from Southeast Asia to Europe. It was the maritime world that drained excess population and enabled millions more to live on the mainland. It was products made overseas that clothed China's expanding population and furnished their households. Looking at China's relationship with the seas helps us to better understand Qing politics and policies. Maritime trade transformed Qing consumer culture. Opium is a good example, and so are foreign cloth, maize, foreign houses, clocks, bicycles, and many more. The changing categories of imports point to the Wind of the West and help us see long-term socio-economic and cultural changes more clearly.

Keywords:China; Europe; maritime trade; opium; Qing politics; seas; wind of the west



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