China Maritime Customs and China's Trade Statistics, 1859-1948
Thomas P. Lyons
This is an important resource for anyone who wants to use Chinese historical statistics. The author traces the evolution of China's Maritime Customs service, explains how the service compiled trade statistics, and shows readers how to obtain, organize, and interpret Customs statistics. The book includes a CD, with a large collection of Customs data in Excel spreadsheet format. China Maritime Customs, which operated on the mainland from 1859 through 1948, left a massive trove of statistical returns, business studies, and annual reports. These documents, produced in English and available to the general public, provide a comprehensive record of China’s shipping and trade--and of trade and commercial development in each ‘open’ port city and its hinterland. While national data are fairly easy to find in published compendia, using port-specific data generally requires delving into the original Customs documents. This book guides the reader through those documents, explaining what sorts of information are available in them, where to get them, and how to use them effectively. It shows readers, in particular, how to gather, interpret, and use statistics that pertain to specific ports, regions, and commodities. The three components of this book collect and organize a wealth of essential information. ---A concise history explains the origins of the Maritime (or ‘foreign') Customs, shows how its responsibilities and geographical presence changed over time, and describes how it gathered and compiled trade statistics. ---Sixty-five spreadsheets, on a CD included with the printed volume, contain a large and unique set of trade data drawn directly from Customs documents. Most of these data pertain to individual ports, in some cases tracing their trade histories for periods of almost 90 years. ---A case study makes extensive use of data on the CD, painting a detailed portrait of the tea trade at ports in Fujian province. This case study points out pitfalls in the data and explains how to avoid them. It shows the reader how to compile series of statistics that take account of variations in coverage and statistical practice, and suggests how port-specific data series can illuminate patterns of trade and development in China’s regions. Maps, graphs, tables, and sidebars supplement the main text. Seven additional texts on the CD show how the spreadsheets were constructed and provide item-by-item explanations of the data they contain.
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