Technologies de navigation et évolution des réseaux d’échanges dans les mers d’Asie du 16e au 19e siècle

Hong Kong

Hong Kong | Sciences Humaines et sociales
18 octobre 2018

Une série de conférences sur les technologies de navigation et l’évolution des réseaux d’échanges dans les mers d’Asie du XVIe au XIXe siècle s’est tenu les 27 et 28 septembre 2018 a la Chinese University de Hong Kong dans le cadre d’un atelier PROCORE.

Cet atelier est le résultat d’une longue coopération avec le département d’histoire de l’université chinoise de Hong Kong. Plusieurs chercheurs de ce département sont membres du consortium du réseau de recherche international fondé par François Gipouloux en 2013 avec le soutien du CNRS, de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales du Collège d’Études Mondiales (FMSH) et de plusieurs fondations et université étrangères.

Cet évènement avait pour objectif, d’éclairer les relations entre changement technologique (en particulier la transition entre navires à voile et à vapeur) et le développement économique, et d’explorer d’autre part les interactions entre grands marchands et l’administration impériale, et le répertoire d’institutions formelles et informelles mobilisées par des réseaux marchands couvrant des marchés régionaux et internationaux. S’attachant à combiner histoire des techniques, histoire économique, histoire des entreprises, géographie historique et études juridiques, et anthropologie, cet atelier a permis de contribuer à une meilleure compréhension du mode opératoire des réseaux de marchands chinois, ainsi que des dimensions sociales et politiques de leur activité. La conférence a également ouvert de nouvelles perspectives de recherche pour l’équipe franco-hongkongaise qui s’est constituée sur ce thème.

Ces deux jours de conférences ont été ouverts par les deux organisateurs, le Professeur Cheung Sui-wai (Département d’histoire, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, CUHK), et François Gipouloux (Directeur de recherche émérite, CNRS-Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme). L’atelier a rassemblé des chercheurs hongkongais : CHOI Chi Cheung (CUHK), He Xi (CUHK), Stuart McManus (CUHK), Puk Wing Kin (CUHK), français et portugais : Paola Calanca (EFEO), Guillaume Carré (EHESS), Chen Junshe (EHESS), François Gipouloux (CNRS-FMSH), Miguel Lourenço (Université de Lisbonne) et Pierre-Yves Manguin (EFEO), spécialistes des questions de navigation, de construction navale, et de cartographie.

Nous présentons ici les résumé des interventions, en anglais.

Évolution des navires et de l’armement dans la piraterie sino-japonaise d’après des sources coréennes

par Guillaume CARRÉ, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

The studies on Sino-Japanese piracy that have developed since the end of the 20th century in China, Japan, Europe and in the United States have mainly used documentation of Chinese origin. They highlighted the intensity of trade between Chinese smugglers and silver producers in western Japan.
The chronicles of the Korean court however, are less known outside of Korea and Japan (previous works by Murai Shôsuke and Yonetani Hitoshi). Yet reading these texts gives us interesting information on the technological exchanges in the world of pirates and traffickers of the seas of China.

The collapse of the Ming’s international security and trade system in the 16th century was a consequence of the combination of several factors : the Chinese authorities’ inability to enforce their policy of restricting foreign trade and surveillance of coastal areas, the rise of the production of silver in the Japanese archipelago because of technology transfers from Korea, the introduction of new artillery technologies by the Portuguese.

The Korean chronicles show us the effects of these upheavals on the smuggling vessels that were sailing between China and Japan : larger, more resistant ships equipped with more formidable weapons. This confrontation with piracy was the occasion for Choseon Korea to confront the revolution in armaments that was transforming East Asia, even if the peninsula was only marginally affected by the great wave of Sino-Japanese piracy.

Dis-moi quel est ton instrument de navigation, je te dirai où tu vas !

par Paola CALANCA, École Française d’Extrême-Orient

Although few Chinese sailing directions have been preserved (while in the future researchers would be able to discover “new” private additional copies dating from the end of the 19th century), it is evident that seafarers used them during their voyages according to their destination, or at least, had them at their disposal.

When reading Charles Gützlaff (1803-1851) is also obvious that Chinese sailors were very familiar with the navigation along the Chinese coast. There is indeed no doubt that they had a very good appreciation of the maritime zone they cover for their professional duties, which includes different parameters depending on the navigation they are accustomed. This is not surprising if one keep in mind that sailing is regulated by maritime routines based on experience accumulated by accomplished seafarers and transmitted by sailor to sailor through practical apprenticeship. Their route was, and still is, dotted with promontories, islands, shoals, harbours, pagoda, shrines, fire-towers, etc. and punctuated by various chromatic tonalities depending upon the sea depth and the ocean currents. Despite this evidence and except for a few general comments, our knowledge is very limited about Chinese real nautical knowledge and practices.

L’interconnexion des institutions financières à Shanghai

par CHEN Junshe, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

After the Second Opium War, Shanghai gradually gained the dominant position through its geographical and political advantages in foreign trade network and replaced Guangzhou as the external trade center of China. From 1870 to 1930, Shanghai accounted for roughly half of China’s foreign trade. Frequent business activities and capital inflows have led to a significant growth in the number of financial institutions in this city.

Lacking access to inland provinces, foreign companies were only able to sell their goods under the help of the network and reputation established by indigenous financial institutions. On the other side, Chinese financial institutions, especially the private money shops in Shanghai (qianzhuang 钱庄) borrowed money from foreign banks and their colleagues from Shanxi (piaohao 票号) because of their shortage of funds. We can say that, from foreign companies, foreign banks, to qianzhuang and piaohao, all the interested parties involved were trying to make functional changes to achieve transactions. Their cooperation in Shanghai since 1860s, established an interesting trade network. In addition, the interconnection among different financial institutions accelerated the modernization of Chinese financial system and economy.

La question du commerce du riz entre Siam et Chine avant l’ère du bateau à vapeur

par CHEUNG Sui Wai, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

When the sea was dominated by the wind-powered vessels, maritime trade existed, but under many restrictions from rulers of different nations. Maritime merchants looked for every means to break through these artificial barriers from time to time. In the case of Sino-Siamese trade, as this paper has shown, by using the import of rice as their pretext, they succeeded in achieving two important developments of trade in the eighteenth century. Firstly, in addition to Canton, two more ports, Amoy and Ningbo, were open to Siamese vessels. Secondly, these merchants enjoyed different degrees of duty exemption when their ships called in at these ports.

Changement de cap dans le bas Yangzi : le déclin de Liujiagang et l’avènement de Shanghai 1300–1800

par David FAURE, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Before the 19th century, Liuhe-zhen on the Jiangsu coast north of the Yangzi rivalled Shanghai as the principal sea port that led to Suzhou, Jiangnan’s primal commercial city. Junk traffic on the eastern coast was tightly regulated so that the Fujian boats were to call at Shanghai and the lighter “sand boats” (shaquan) were to call at Liuhe.

The “sand boats” served the northern half of the China coast, plying between Jiangsu, Shandong and further north even into Manchuria. The Fujian boats plied the southern coast and the China-Japan trade. Some very important financial institutions arose from this arrangement, because north China traded primarily in copper cash and the south a combination of silver and copper cash.
Liuhe served as a major centre of exchange for cash to silver, a natural result of the “sand boats” bringing in beans from the north and carrying up from the Yangzi delta primarily cotton.

Nevetheless, Liuhe declined from possibly the end of the 18th century and the entire coastal trade came to be centred at Shanghai. From that shift, Shanghai became the focus of the silver-copper cash exchange (hence the “native banks” that were based in Shanghai by the 19th century). Why Liuhe declined has always been somewhat a mystery. Aside from exploring the institutions that arose from the coastal trade, this paper also argues that the decline has to be explained in relation to the hinterland at the port. In the case of Shanghai and Liuhe, that had to do with maintaining the waterways, which required a delicate balance between their transport and irrigation functions. Shanghai succeeded not because it was necessarily a better seaport, but because the hinterland, carefully managed, provided a stronger commercial base.

Spécialisation nautique et marches périphériques : les Philippines dans la cartographie portugaise du 16e siècle

par Miguel Rodrigues LOURENÇO, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

After the conquest of Melaka in 1511 the inner Philippines’ seas remained at best a secondary market to the Portuguese due to the strong investment in the more profitable Chinese and Moluccan markets. The marginal role of the Philippines in the overall activities of the Portuguese in Southeast Asia can be appreciated in the evolution of cartographic renderings on the islands, which followed slower rhythms and different criteria of geographical renovation than other sectors of Southeast and East Asia.

In this paper I suggest that one of the reasons for this peculiarity is the specialization of the Portuguese merchants that invested in this trade that resulted in the accumulation of geographical and nautical knowledge not shared immediately across seafaring communities at Melaka. During this presentation I will try to reconstruct the specificities of Portuguese trade in the Philippines by correlating the scarce documentary evidence and the evolution of cartographic representation of the archipelago in 16th century, all the while reflecting on the relation between accumulation and circulation of nautical and cartographical knowledge in Southeast and East Asia.

Organisation du commerce maritime durant la fin de la dynastie Ming et le début de la dynastie Qing : dynamiques et contraintes

par François GIPOULOUX, Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme

Maritime trade during the late Ming was characterised by the intermingling of tributary trade, private trade and piracy. The establishment of the ban on maritime trade (海禁 haijin) gave way to a scarcity of goods entering China and to a great profitability of smuggling activities. While the ban on maritime trade never succeeded in eliminating the so-called Japanese pirates (倭寇 woko), it opened the possibilities of huge profits to illegal trade. Fujian coast offered many opportunities to smugglers.

Several interesting records of judicial cases are reported by Wang Zaijin in 1611 along with and local records from Fujian and Zhjiang gazetteers give a precise description of maritime trade procedures in the 17th century. They reveal the complex mechanism of pooling capital and cargoes before venturing for overseas trade. It also describes in a very vivid way the involvement of local administration in a still prohibited trade with Japan. It also highlights however the lack of financial instruments to mobilize capital secure a cargo and underline the limits of the management of the relationship between investors, ship-owners, and operators.

La survie du commerce par jonque a l’heure du bateau à vapeur en Chine du sud 1840-1940

par HE Xi, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

My initial hypothesis is that the junk trade did not substantially decline in the early days of steam transport. Rather, for various reasons, it might have thrived. Firstly, there would have been substantial increase in local trade brought about by the increase in international trade. Secondly, steamers and junks would have served different routes. For example, steamers would have been more convenient than junks on the long-distance route between southeast Asia and Guangzhou or Xiamen, because junks would have depended heavily on the monsoon. Along many parts of the south China coast, the junk trade would have continued until smaller steam boats were introduced, and I would have expected that trend to have continued until into the 1950s, junks were increasingly motorized to adapt to the new condition.

In this paper, I would like to be able to reconstruct the transition from junk to steamboats more precisely, so that I would be able to pinpoint the seaports that emerged as steam transport increased, and the ones that declined along with the junk trade. I would like to be able to do that because that will be background for the next project, that is, to investigate what happened to those societies which were subjected to such different experience. I would expect continuous prosperity for both types of societies until the 1920s, and thereafter, emerging social structures coming out of the surviving societies, and increasing poverty and sharp population decline for the losers by the 1930s.

Les grands commerçants du 16e siècle en Asie du sud-est : les jonques malaises et javanaises

par Pierre-Yves MANGUIN, École Française d’Extrême-Orient

Large Traders of 16th Century Southeast Asia : the Malay and Javanese Jong
Detailed 16th-century Portuguese descriptions of large traders encountered in the Melaka Strait and the Java Sea always designated the large local trading vessels as juncos, a regular rendering of Malay or Javanese jong, a term long-used in local epigraphy and literary texts. These sources describe the assemblage of the hull elements with wooden dowels, insisting on the fact that they never used iron nails or clamps, as the Chinese or Europeans would. By then, "sewing" of hulls was clearly abandoned, and such fastening techniques marked the final step in the evolution of the stitched-plank and lashed-lug tradition characteristic of Southeast Asian shipbuilding traditions used for large traders of the past two millennia.

The jong tonnage was considerable, at least by Portuguese standards of the time : the texts indicate an average burthen for these large jong of 350 to 500 tons deadweight. No archaeological confirmation is so far available, but the fact that this tradition survived in 20th century smaller Bugis, Javanese, and Madurese traders does confirm their existence and attest to the considerable role they played in Southeast Asian trade networks of early modern times. These jong carried cargoes belonging to rulers and merchants, and specialised in long distances and in ponderous goods, sustained by communities of wealthy merchants gathered in large cities such as Melaka and a variety of other harbour cities of the Straits area and the Java Sea. There are clear indications in Portuguese sources of late-15th- or early-16th-century crossings leading them East to China, and as far west as the Maldives, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and Madagascar.

These large jong were abandoned during the second part of the 16th century, resulting in the image conveyed by 17th century Dutch sources : a sizable fleet of smallish vessels involved exclusively in regional networks and maintained by merchants of the pedlar category. The erroneous postulate of Dutch authors on the tonnage of pre-17th century ships and their rejection of the possibility of earlier oceanic navigation by Southeast Asians served for long as a basis for a much-underestimated assessment of Southeast Asian trade networks. On the basis of Portuguese sources, it is possible to restore to local shippers and traders their critical role in the economic history of the region.

Rédacteur : Simon MULLER, chargé de mission scientifique