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The Haijin (Chinese: 海禁; pinyin: Hǎi Jìn; literally: "sea ban") order was a ban on maritime activities imposed during China's Ming dynasty and again at the time of the Qing dynasty. Intended to curb piracy, the ban proved ineffective for that purpose. Instead it imposed huge hardships on coastal communities and legitimate sea traders.
The Hǎi Jĩn policy consisted of three strategies.
- Build a navy of 110,000 to defend coastal provinces;
- Engage with the Japanese authorities to curtail the raiders;
- Regulate maritime trade to control smuggled goods.
The ban was lifted in 1405, reinstated in 1550 then lifted again in 1567.
The earliest possible date for implementation of the policy was 1368, the year that the Ming dynasty came to power whilst the latest possible year when it was terminated was 1567.
Koxinga, also known as Zheng Chenggong, was a military leader from the Ming government located in the coastal region, capable of threatening the Qing. In 1647, another sea ban was issued to limit foreign trade with severe punishment imposed. In 1655 the "Frontier Shift" was imposed in Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shandong. It required coastal residents to move in land 30–50 li (est. 15 to 25 kilometers). All private boats and ships were burned. Small rafts were not allowed at sea. In 1684, the ban was stopped, trading was reopened under the Kangxi Emperor. In 1685 a "Taxation Rule for Sea Trade" was drafted by Yiergetu.
History of South Ming
- In the second month of the first year (1661) of Kangxi, Qing court issued the emperor's decree: The sea shore inhabitants will be ordered to move inland 50 Li (Chinese: 里; translation: mile), to curb their links with the Taiwan rebels (Koxinga). Soldiers then moved in and set up the boundary: in just three days, all houses were destroyed to the ground, all inhabitants were evacuated.
- In the second year (1662) of Kangxi, Hua Official came to patrol the border, people were moved one more time.
- In the Spring month of the third year (1663) of Kangxi, the inhabitants of five counties — Panyu, Shunde, Xinhui, Dongguan, Zhongshan — were moved again.
- The initial borderline was considered to be too close to the sea; subsequently it was moved inland three times; only then the position of the borderline was settled.
- "Warning was written on notice board: Anyone dare to step over the border line shall be beheaded!"
- "Persons found a few paces over the border line, shall be beheaded instantly."
- "All coastal inhabitants should be living less than 20 Li (Chinese:里 translation: mile) away from the city. Beyond 20 Li, an earthen wall shall be built to serve as a border line; not a single sampan would be allowed to go into the water, no one shall be allowed beyond the border line, any person found shall be executed on the spot. Armed soldiers patrolled the border constantly, would behead anyone caught over the border line.
From 1652 onwards, the Qing court began ordering populations along the entire southern coast to be forcibly relocated inland, to stop them from giving aid and comfort to the enemy through trade. Faced with an enemy in inaccessible areas along the coast, the Qing chose to take the non-state spaces of the littoral to their logical extreme by creating a sanitary cordon of walls and watchtowers between the people and the sea. All coastal navigation and trade was banned, but the effect of the prohibitions and relocations was simply to make the Zheng base in Xiamen an even bigger centre for smuggling trade, with relocated communities now engaging in overland smuggling to Xiamen in order to sustain themselves.—Yang Shao-yun, Water Worlds : Piracy and Littoral Societies as Non-State Spaces in Late Imperial South China
The ban was also seen as a deceptive proposal, since it prevented the rise of any self-sufficient economies along the coast. Eventually new economies could not be born, and no power was drawn away from the existing imperial courts, thus making this ban a political move.[original research?]
The law proved a great hardship for coastal dwellers and stimulated rebellions, piracy and a huge wave of overseas migration. Traditionally, southeast Asia was the preferred destination for Chinese emigrants (see Liang Daoming).
- Thirteen Factories and Canton System
- Sakoku (鎖国) — policy of maritime trade restrictions in Tokugawa Japan
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