Book Review-‘Boundaries and Beyond: China’s maritime southeast in late imperial times’ by N. Chin-keong

By Andrew Lambert, published November 2020


The maritime history of China has become a contested space, where official Chinese propaganda and sensational Western texts compete to rewrite reality.

The antidote to such trifles can be found in this nuanced, sophisticated collection of scholarly essays, stretching across a long and distinguished career, re-examining Imperial China’s relationship with the sea and seaborne trade. In conjunction with the author’s 1983 monograph Trade and Society: The Amoy network on the China coast, 1683–1735 it makes a fundamental contribution to western understanding of China’s relationship with the China Seas and the wider world of maritime Asia in the late Imperial era. The wealth of evidence deployed flows into nuanced and persuasive judgements that stand in stark contrast to so much of the sensational literature that claims to represent China’s long and complex relationship with the ocean. The essays focus on the southern provinces of Fujian and Guangdong, maritime frontier regions where poor agricultural returns and adjacent trading opportunities emphasized the attractions of the sea…

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Subjects include: Administration | Strategy & Diplomacy

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