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Engaging the South: Ming China and Southeast Asia in the Fifteenth Century

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The fifteenth century witnessed Ming China expanding its interactions with areas to the south—areas which we today refer to as Southeast Asia. This involved overland political expansion, the gradual incorporation of Tai polities, as well as their economic exploitation. The twenty-year incorporation of the Dai Viêt policy was also part of this process. In the maritime realm, following the early fifteenth-century sending of massive armadas in an attempt to achieve a pax Ming in the region, the Ming court made efforts to ban maritime commerce by non-state players. This paper examines the effects that these various Ming policies had on Southeast Asia in the political, economic, technological, and cultural spheres. Le XVIème siècle vit la multiplication des interventions de la Chine des Ming dans la région aujourd'hui dénommée Asie du Sud-Est. Elles entraînèrent une expansion politique terrestre, l'annexion progressive des royaumes Thaïs et leur exploitation économique. L'incorporation du royaume de Dai Viêt à la Chine durant vingt années, s'inscrit dans le même développement. Dans le domaine maritime, le début du XVIème siècle est marqué par l'envoi d'armadas qui tentèrent d'imposer la pax Ming dans l'Asie du Sud-Est., la cour Ming s'efforçant d'exclure le négoce privé du commerce maritime. Cette contribution étudie les effets de l'ensemble des stratégies des Ming en Asie du Sud-Est dans la sphère politique, économique, technologique et culturelle.

Affiliations: 1: Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore;, Email:


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