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Likin (taxation)

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Traditional Chinese釐金
Simplified Chinese厘金

The likin or lijin was a form of internal tariff in the Chinese Empire and Republic, which was first introduced as a means of financing the largely locally recruited armies to suppress the Taiping Rebellion.


The likin tax was first introduced in 1853 by censor Lei Yixian[1] in the area around Yangzhou as a way of raising funds in the campaigns against local rebels. As the central government was short of revenue, the imperial court sanctioned the tax and it quickly became an important source of funds for the campaign against the Taiping and Nian rebellions.

The tax was levied on an ad valorem basis on goods in transit between provinces and on shops,[citation needed] with rates ranging from 2 to 10 per cent.[2] After the Taipings were suppressed in 1864, the likin became a permanent feature of the Chinese tax system and it became an important source of revenue for local government. In many ways, the tax signified the decentralization of state authority in the wake of the Taiping rebellion.

The Treaty of Nanjing ending the First Opium War, the most favored nation clauses in subsequent "unequal treaties" with imperialist Europe, and the disorder of the Taiping Rebellion reduced China's ability to impose or levy their own external tariffs (customs), with the Chinese Maritime Customs Service under European control after 1854. Foreign merchants protested against the likin as a violation of China's treaties and raised the issue repeatedly, including at the Chefoo Convention. As it was imposed on all goods both foreign and domestic, however, it survived the fall of the Qing dynasty into the Warlord Era and was not ended until 1 January 1931.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Wright, Mary Clabaugh (1962), The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism: The T'ung-chih Restoration, 1862-1874, Volume 13 of Stanford studies in history, economics, and political science, Stanford University Press, pp. 53, 167, ISBN 0804704759
  2. ^ Kuhn, Philip A. (1978), "The Creation of the Treaty System", The Cambridge History of China, vol. 10, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 289.


  • Beal, Edwin George. The Origin of Likin, 1853–1864. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958.