Foreign Dollars and Sycee : Government Shroff in Amoy following the Opening of Treaty Ports

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  • 洋銀と紋銀 --開港直後の廈門における海關銀號問題を中心に--
  • ヨウギン ト モンギン : カイコウ チョクゴ ノ アモイ ニ オケル カイカンギンゴウ モンダイ オ チュウシン ニ

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This thesis studies the frictions between British merchants and the government shroff who collected taxes applied at maritime customs in Amoy to analyze the impact of the reorganization of the trade control system by the Qing and to ascertain the circulation of silver just after the opening of the treaty ports. Government shroffs were established in November of 1843, when Amoy was opened to Western ships for trade. Four influential merchants in Amoy were selected and appointed government shroffs. They accepted foreign dollars for the payment of duties, but not sycee silver. Further, they applied the Amoy exchange rate to exchange foreign currency for silver and refused to accept the Canton exchange rate adopted at the other three treaty ports. This action led to friction between foreign merchants and the government shroffs at Amoy. After negotiations between British consuls and local Qing officials, these shroffs eventually agreed to receive sycee silver as well as use the Canton exchange rate. By using their status as government shroffs, these merchants attempted to control the immigration operations and trade with Southeast Asia, which also created problems with British merchants. The Amoy merchants were finally dismissed from their position as government shroffs in February of 1846. The introduction of the Canton silver exchange rate to five treaty ports effected a major change in China's monetary system. The prevention of trade being controlled by influential merchants led to the expansion of the role of Cantonese officials such as the compardores and the shroffs who accompanied foreign merchants to treaty ports. In short, Britain pressured the local Qing government to give up the system like "the Canton system", which led the local Qing government to contract influential brokers for tax collection and trade control. This strategy resulted in the unintended extension of the power of the Cantonese over the treaty ports. This shift subsequently caused turmoil in treaty ports and the proliferation of activities such as smuggling, piracy, and coolie trade during the 1840s and 1850s.


  • 東方學報

    東方學報 94 422-399, 2019-12-20

    Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University



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