China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The paper examines the role that German shipping in and between the new natural resource frontiers of Southeast and Northeast Asia played in the commodification of the China coast in the East Asian maritime world. In the early 1830s, European trade with Chinese merchants was centred in Southeast Asia and Germans active in Asia were agents of other states, only later on seeking out economic niches within the British and Qing imperial and economic systems. By the end of the nineteenth century, earlier patterns of trade were entwined with state-driven and globalised German enterprises. German capital circulations and technology complemented overseas Chinese commerce, together developing several commodity frontiers in Asia – soy in the northeast, camphor in the south and tin in the southeast – while playing a significant role in facilitating the transformation from a wood-based energy regime to an industrial one based in coal.