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Chinese Maritime Customs

Asiatic Research Institute of Korea University
 
Historical Records of the Old Chinese Maritime Customs
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These materials were organized from Historical Records of the Old Chinese Maritime Customs (1859-1948) (170 volumes. Kyeonghwa Publishing Company, 2001). Here is a brief introduction of Historical Records of the Old Chinese Maritime Customs. The Maritime Customs was an organization that administered overseas trade and collected tariffs in China. From 1853 to 1945, the Maritime Customs was controlled by Westerners. During this period of almost 100 years, the Maritime Customs accumulated a large amount of data. This data covers almost all areas of modern China such as politics, economy, society, and culture, but the most important part is its trade statistics.

 

The Maritime Customs began to produce statistics in 1859 and published periodicals for 90 years until 1948. The published materials are historically important economic records, written based on the basic statistics that regional customs offices reported. Most Chinese researchers of overseas trade history and economic history base their studies on these materials. In addition, as Chinese Maritime Customs began to tighten its control over Joseon after the Imo Incident, it also exercised influence over Joseon's Maritime Customs. Therefore, its Annual Trade Statistics includes as an appendix the Annual Report of Joseon's Maritime Customs from 1885 to 1893.

 
Content of the Historical Records of the Maritime Customs

The Historical Records of the Old Chinese Maritime Customs consist of two main parts, namely the Trade Statistics and the Trade Report.

Trade Statistics

Statistics in the Historical Records of the Old Chinese Maritime Customs cover trade, foreign exchange, tariff, and finance. The annual statistics on import and export trade and intermediate trade are categorized by regional customs offices and nations. The statistics contain precise records of import and export cargo volumes, prices, and tariffs for different periods such as the Qing Dynasty, the Beiyang Government, the Nanjing National Government, the Wang Jingwei Government, and the Manchu State. Also recorded are customs agreements in each time period; the number of freighters that went through each regional customs office each year, along with their tonnage; the number of Chinese and Westerners who went through each regional customs office; and immigration. In addition, changes in currency value, transit duty, and pilotage in each time period are recorded.

Trade Report

Along with a general statement of the trade situation in each regional customs office, the Trade Report contains a detailed description of factors that affected overseas trade. It also includes the results of a social survey taken in areas near the Maritime Customs and reported to the Inspector General of Customs. Therefore, it has a large amount of raw historical data on politics, economy, society, and culture that are not in official historical records or local gazetteers.

 
Key Data in the Historical Records of the Maritime Customs

The Editorial Board of the Historical Records of the Maritime Customs collected various reports edited by regional customs offices, the Book Publishing Office of the Inspector General of Customs, and the Manchu State's Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economy from 1859 to 1948 and published them in 170 volumes