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The Ryukyu KingdomCornerstone of East Asia$
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Mamoru Akamine and Robert Huey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824855178

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824855178.001.0001

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Founding of the Ming Dynasty and the Rise of the Ryukyu Kingdom

Founding of the Ming Dynasty and the Rise of the Ryukyu Kingdom

(p.20) Chapter Two Founding of the Ming Dynasty and the Rise of the Ryukyu Kingdom
The Ryukyu Kingdom

Mamoru Akamine

, Lina Terrell, Robert Huey
University of Hawai'i Press

With the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Hongwu announced a ban on sea travel to try and control wakō pirates. He established a tribute system whereby countries that accepted the Chinese emperor as sovereign could send tribute trade missions to and from China. Because the pirates frequented the Ryukyu Islands, Hongwu had a preference policy toward Ryukyu to obtain their help in controlling wakō pirates. Of the three domains dominating Okinawa Island, Chūzan emerged as China’s main trading partner, and this began the process of unifying the Ryukyu Kingdom. A number of Chinese merchants, traditionally known as “the Thirty-six Families” relocated to Ryukyu to facilitate tribute trade, though the author disputes the conventional view of this as a “gift” from China. By the end of the chapter, Ryukyu is poised to be a key player – a cornerstone – in the East Asian trade sphere.

Keywords:   Ming Dynasty, wakō pirates, Emperor Hongwu, ban on sea travel, tribute system, Chūzan, Thirty-six Families, Chinese immigration to Ryukyu, tribute trade, Ming preference policy, Ryukyu as Cornerstone

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