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Week 8 Reading The Collapse Of The Chinese Imperial Monetary System Notes

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EH207: Topic 7 - "The Collapse of the Chinese Imperial Monetary System" (Kuroda, 2011)

"The Collapse of the Chinese Imperial Monetary System (Kuroda, 2011) Summary

"Securing local liquidity during the harvest seasons had been seen as an essential factor for the development of the agrarian empire" "Local peasant economy's needs were served by copper cash and silver which served as the main means of settlement for regional and external trade, functioned in tandem with copper, rather independently" "Successive adoption of the gold or gold exchange standard in India, Japan and the Straits Settlements from the end of the 19 th century to the early 20th century made it more and more difficult for China to sustain its engagement in international trade and overseas remittances while preserving its own monetary regime"

Multiple monetary standards and currency circuits During Qing, various attempts were made at monetary reform E.g. during the Civil War that followed the Taiping Rebellion in the 1850s (Zeyi, 1979) Both the dual denomination copper cash and the official paper money circulated at a large discount and the reform failed Disappeared in the 1860s as the war ended The silver liang (or tael) and copper cash formed the basis of the monetary system in the late Qing period Trading was conducted through the weighing of silver ingots using a measure known as liang Unit of account consisted of 3 elements Weight Purity A divisor These elements varied region to region and from commodity to commodity The value of copper cash was generally fixed and was used as a counting currency In large transactions, copper cash was put onto strings and large denominations were valued at a premium But the units of copper cash that made up a string varied by region and commodity Mexican coins were in circulation for daily transactions Silver dollars were available only in the southeastern coastal regions and the treaty ports In other areas they were redeemed as silver ingots and their value calculated on the basis of the liang Not readily accepted by people in inland rural areas

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