R03c_Ch.12: Doing Business with East Asia
The readings provided below reveal a bit about the important facets of doing business with East Asia. Knowledge and skill, which may only come from experience and trial/ error, was necessary to master the climatic conditions and nurture regional contacts.
While reading the passages below, open a map of the target regions on your computer screen. Try to find the places mentioned as you analyze the text.
When you’re done, respond in complete sentences to the question(s) at the end.
Climate and Trade
“The monsoons greatly facilitated trade in Southeast Asia. The prevailing winds are to the northeast during summer, and to the southwest during the winter. Thus merchants were able to organize their maritime trade based on these seasonal rhythms of changing wind patterns. Merchants awaiting the shift in prevailing winds needed safe ports for their ships and products. These ports soon developed into major centers of Southeast Asian wealth, culture, and political power.”
Source: Jay P Anglin and William J Hamblin, Harner Collins College Outline of World History to 1648, New York, Collins Publishers, 1993, p.300.
The development of trade in Asia and the Middle East
“In the Abbasid period, the great center [of commerce and trade] for the whole of the East was Baghdad, to be replaced after the eleventh century by Cairo, while the distant countries of the Muslim West also had their own activities, though in smaller scale. From Iraq and Persia their ships sailed to the Yemen and on to East Africa, where they went behind Zanzibar and the Comoro Islands. Sailing eastwards, they reached India and eventually Malaysia and China (Canton).
The Hindus and Chinese, for their part, occasionally visited the Muslim ports, or, more often, came to Ceylon or Malaysia to meet merchants from the West. After the disturbances in China that led to the massacre of the merchant colony in Canton at the end of the ninth century, these intermediate-meeting places became customary for a time although direct links with China were gradually re-established. Merchandise brought to Iraq was largely absorbed by the court and the wealthy local aristocracy; a certain proportion however was sent on by caravan to the ports of Syria or Egypt, destined for the Christian and Muslim countries of the Mediterranean; some goods were also sent by land or sea from Syria direct to Constantinople, and from there re-distributed to eastern Europe and Byzantine Italy.”
Source: P. M. Holt, Ann K S Lambton and Bernard Lewis, eds., The Cambridge History of Islam Vol. 2, London, Cambridge at the University Press, 1970, p.323.
Question(s) to Ponder:
1. To be successful in commercial/ merchant activities with East Asia, what two skills and/ or bits of knowledge do you believe is critical?
2. If you look at a map of the regions discussed, where would be the perfect place for an enterprising person, like yourself, to setup you business and reap wealth from the commerce?
3. In the 13th and 14th C., the Mongols unified the land mass and all land/ sea routes within the Asian region. Now, East and West are connected like they have never been before, or since. During the sharp rise in commercial and cultural exchange that will occur, identify who (EAST or WEST) you believe will benefit most from the exchange and why.