Hong-zhi: Year 6, Month 3, Day 20

6 Apr 1493

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The Censor-in-Chief Min Gui, supreme commander of Guang-dong/Guang-xi, memorialized:

"In the coastal areas of Guang-dong, many people are privately dealing with [those who come on the] fan ships. The ships come in an unbroken stream and, without waiting for the examination of their tally-slips, [those on] the fan ships start selling their merchandise. The government forces responsible for guarding against the Japanese pirates have made reports about the growing power and disorderliness of the traders. Also, the authorities have had to make necessary arrangements, and the costs thereby incurred have been very great. This trade should be prohibited. Further, the yi are wily and guileful and I am afraid that unexpected mishaps may occur. We should make publicly known at the Huai-yuan Postal Relay Station the previously-stipulated regulations in which the frequencies of the tribute missions from the various fan are set down, and require them to come and offer tribute in accordance with these frequencies. Whenever a fan ship arrives, the government forces responsible for guarding against Japanese pirates should send the persons aboard in custody to the provincial administration commission for examination of their tally-slip. If they have not contravened the tribute frequency, they should be transferred to the eunuch director superintending the maritime trade supervisorate and the regional inspector, who will then memorialize and send the tribute mission on. If they have violated the tribute frequency, they are to be arrested and sent for questioning."

The memorial was sent to the Ministry of Rites which stated:

"According to Gui's memorial, the problem lies with the great number of fan ships and the hardship brought to the offices. According to this Ministry, since the first year of the Hong-zhi reign (1488/89) the only fan ships which have brought tribute missions through Guang-dong have been one from Champa and one from Siam. Because the prohibition against the private ships (私船) has been relaxed, they have proliferated, while because the prohibition against fan ships has been strictly enforced, they have not been coming. Now there is a wish to publicly promulgate the prohibition. This will not only obstruct the desire to move towards culture, but will also assist the private ships. In future, when fan ships reach Guang-dong, they should first be examined. If they are not coming in violation of regulations, those aboard should be entertained with the appropriate rites in the hostel, and an urgent memorial should be sent. If they are violating the regulations, they should be stopped and sent back. If those who have improper dealings with such ships are punished for their crimes, and the comings and goings are regulated, the various fan will be encouraged and they will come, while if the private ships are punished, they will dare not come. Does not the way of treating those from the distance kindly, while benefitting the state, lie in this!"

This was approved.

Xiao-zong: juan 73.3a-b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 54, page 1367/68

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Preferred form of citation for this entry:

Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore, http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/reign/hong-zhi/year-6-month-3-day-20, accessed January 17, 2021


What could be the difference between 'fan' ships and private ships? When did the 'relaxation' on shipping begin? Roxanna57@yahoo.com