Timeline Capsule
Time Capsule Details | BeingBlackToday.com
1557 . 01 . 01
Trade Begins Between Imperialist Europe and China
While at the verge of European imperialism reaching its height, Europe and China began a trade relationship in 1557, when the Portuguese lease an outpost at Macau.

Other European nations soon followed the Portugese, in direct competition with the Arab, Chinese, Indian, and Japanese merchants.

The trade between China and Europe quickly accelerated at the Spanish imperialist conquered the Philippines.

China was the primary destination of silver that was being mined in South America, as the Chinese would only sell their goods for silver.  From the mid-17th century onward around 28 million kilograms of silver were received by China, principally from European powers, in exchange for Chinese products.

The British tried to circumvent establishing formal relations with China, and were only allowed to trade at three China ports.

Canton became the center of China's sea trade.  Goods such as tea, porcelain, and silk were highly valued in Europe and the trade system, known as the "Canton System", was highly regulated by the Qing government.

Foreign traders...
  • were only permitted to do business through a body of Chinese merchants known as the Cohong
  • were forbidden to learn Chinese
  • could only live in one of the Thirteen Factories
  • were not allowed to enter or trade in any other part of China, a policy the Qing called the Yī kŏu tōngshāng, or the "Single port commerce system"
  • could only deal with low level government officials
  • could not lobby the imperial court for any reason excepting official diplomatic missions.
The Imperial laws that upheld the system were collectively known as the Prevention Barbarian Ordinances.