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Conflict and Commerce in Maritime East Asia: The Zheng Family and the Shaping of the Modern World, c.1620-1720

Hang, Xing (Brandeis University, Massachusetts)

978 1 107 55845 8
List price(s):
32.99 USD
21.99 GBP
25.66 EUR

Publication date:
1 June 2017

Short description: 

A major new interpretation of the Zheng family of merchants and militarists, who dominated the seventeenth-century China Seas.

Full description: 

The Zheng family of merchants and militarists emerged from the tumultuous seventeenth century amid a severe economic depression, a harrowing dynastic transition from the ethnic Chinese Ming to the Manchu Qing, and the first wave of European expansion into East Asia. Under four generations of leaders over six decades, the Zheng had come to dominate trade across the China Seas. Their average annual earnings matched, and at times exceeded, those of their fiercest rivals: the Dutch East India Company. Although nominally loyal to the Ming in its doomed struggle against the Manchus, the Zheng eventually forged an autonomous territorial state based on Taiwan with the potential to encompass the family's entire economic sphere of influence. Through the story of the Zheng, Xing Hang provides a fresh perspective on the economic divergence of early modern China from western Europe, its twenty-first-century resurgence, and the meaning of a Chinese identity outside China.

Table of contents: 

Introduction; 1. Setting the stage; 2. From smuggler-pirates to loyal Confucians; 3. Between trade and legitimacy; 4. Brave new world; 5. The Zheng state on Taiwan; 6. The lure of 'China'; 7. A contingent destruction; 8. Conclusion; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.


Xing Hang currently teaches at Brandeis University, Massachusetts. He is the author of the Encyclopedia of National Anthems (2011) and co-editor of Sea Rovers, Silver, and Samurai: Maritime East Asia in Global History, 1550-1700 (with Tonio Andrade, 2016). He has also written numerous articles and reviews for major journals, and is a recipient of many grants and awards, including the American Council of Learned Societies Henry Luce Fellowship and the Michael L. Walzer Prize for Excellence in Teaching.




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