This book outlines the history of Chinese business and argues that business practices in China have been shaped by broader trends in the evolution of the Chinese state and society since 1500. It discusses three changes that provided the backbone of long-lasting development in the late imperial state of the Ming (1368–1644) and the Qing (1644–1911) dynasties. Firstly, the Chinese economy was increasingly monetarized from the sixteenth century onwards as silver was imported into China in large quantities from abroad in return for Chinese exports. Secondly, the recruitment of a bureaucracy by examination was consistently applied from the early Ming into the last years of the Qing dynasty, and it created a class of administrators who prided themselves on their scholarship. Thirdly, the scholar-official class from the 1500s saw their political interests vested in the maintenance of ritual order which assigned all members of the state, including the emperor, rights and responsibilities.
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