This introductory chapter provides an overview of the series of decisions that were made in the year 1684 which proved momentous in the history of Chinese foreign trade. First, the maritime trade ban was lifted and Manchu and Chinese private traders were allowed to trade abroad. Second, all merchants from both tribute and nontribute countries were permitted to enter coastal ports. Third, a clear distinction between trade and tribute enabled those countries having no tributary relationship with China to participate in private trade. Fourth, a maritime customs systems managed seaborne trade and collected tariffs. These policies, the most important elements of High Qing trade policy, remained in force for the subsequent century and a half.
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