In the 17th century, China implemented the Canton system. At first, foreigners were allowed to trade both in Canton (otherwise known as Guangzhou) and other ports. This was under the condition that the would have a security merchant to vouch for their behavior (Wills 2006). However, when the English decided to trade in Ningbo to get around having to have a security merchant, the Chinese government closed all ports except for Canton and implemented what is now known as the Cohong system, the system most closely associated with the Canton system (Wills 2006). This system maintained that trade could only be done with those merchants licensed by the government. Therefore, in this period, the Cohong had a monopoly over foreign trade. Although foreigners wanted China to open its ports, the truth was that China really didn't need foreign trade. As quoted by Michael Greenburg in British Trade and the Opening of China, “Had the entire foreign trade of China suddenly ceased in 1877, the economic life of the country would have been affected but very little.” This was due to China's self sufficient economy based on agriculture. The British found this lack of concern for international trade vexing, and according to Greenburg, “[attributed] the obnoxious restrictive ...
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...n (then synonymous with westernization) on the part of the Chinese.
Wills, John E., Jr. "Canton System." History of World Trade Since 1450. Ed. John J. McCusker. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2006. 98-100. Gale World History In Context. Web. 9 Oct. 2010.
Greenberg, Michael. British Trade and the Opening of China 1800 - 42. New York: Monthly Review, 1979. Print.
Zhou, Yongming. Anti-drug Crusades in Twentieth-century China: Nationalism, History, and State Building. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999. Print.
Hsü, Immanuel Chung-yueh. The Rise of Modern China. New York: Oxford UP, 1995. Print.
Hanes, William Travis, and Frank Sanello. Opium Wars: the Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another. Naperville, IL: Source, 2002. Print.
Waley, Arthur. The Opium War through Chinese Eyes. London: Allen & Unwin, 1958. Print.
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