China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The Qing Empire has long been seen as a continental power that failed to recognize its maritime obligations. It was even believed that the Qing only began to concede the importance of maritime governance after the First Opium War. This panel, by contrast, proposes to study the Qing dynasty in the long eighteenth century from a maritime angle, in an approach we call the new Qing maritime history (haishang xin Qingshi). We contend that the Qing administration was attentive and deliberate in developing maritime policy. To make this case, we explore how and why the maritime frontier was imbued with particular meanings that demanded sustained political attention.
The first two panelists, Gang Zhao and Ron Po, will dissect notions of coastal governance that the Qing court applied to its maritime frontier. Zhao highlights the complex process through which Taiwan came to be viewed as strategically crucial to the empire’s security, while Po illustrates the intricacies of Qing maritime spatial concepts reflected within yingxun tu, or coastal garrison diagrams. Reaching farther afield, Xing Hang and Shirley Ye will demonstrate the role played by the Qing government in maintaining the geopolitical and economic balance across Asian waters. Hang evaluates the impact of Qing maritime policies on the formation of a transnational Chinese civic sphere in the Mekong Delta, while Ye examines the Qing response to commercial developments on the China coast driven by foreign powers.