Jia-jing: Year 9, Month 10, Day 5

25 Oct 1530

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The Supervising Secretary Wang Xi-wen advised:

"The region of Guang-dong controls (控) the yi states, and when the five countries of Siam, Champa, Ryukyu, Java and Bo-ni come to offer tribute, their route passes through Dong-guan. Our former Emperors established laws whereby the frequency at which tribute was to be offered was set down and the number of ships allowed to come was fixed. If the tally-slip they brought was found to fit, they were given escorts and the goods they brought were purchased by the state for paper money. All of this is recorded in the Imperial instructions and can be examined. During the Hong-wu reign (1368-98), as they often brought merchants and secretly engaged in cunning and guileful actions, they were stopped and not allowed to bring tribute. During the Zheng-de reign (1506-21), the Fo-lang-ji, using an alias, came mixed together with them to offer tribute. They then spread their pernicious influence to the provincial seat. It was only after the Surveillance Vice Commissioner Wang Hong combined his forces and drove them off that they were barred. Now, only a few years later, the grand coordinator and the regional inspector have, on the pretext of lack of funds and a lack of goods, proposed re-opening to them. The previous Emperors were for years subject to lu who were very difficult to drive off. Fortunately, we were finally able to sweep them away. If the successes and achievement of the defence officials in their hundreds of battles are to be entirely discarded overnight, it will be a sad thing. Even if we ignore the damage that this will do to the localities, if the greatly dignified Heavenly Court accepts their frivolous and trivial tribute, the action of ruling them will be unworthy of the Court, while failure to rule them will result in the Court losing majesty. Neither of these options can be entertained. On another matter, in the regions of Lei-zhou and Lian-zhou, there are pearl-beds. Although in the past, the Emperors established officers to supervise and defend them, they did nothing except prevent the people from taking pearls. During the Zheng-de reign (1506-21), refractory eunuchs, on some pretext, transmitted Imperial orders requiring that the pearls be obtained, and the pernicious influence of these eunuchs spread along the coast. When our present Emperor ascended the throne, the vice director in charge of the pearl beds was removed and the coastal people were pleased without end. Now, the person who was removed has been restored and great quantities of pearls are being obtained. This has placed great demands on the innocent people who thus face incalculable dangers. The [eunuchs] seek things which cannot definitely be found and demand quantities which are difficult to fulfil. This is not an appropriate manifestation of Imperial rule."

The memorial was sent to the Censorate, which re-submitted it, noting:

"It is requested that in future when the various countries offer tribute, they should be ordered to come in accordance with the stipulated frequency, and provide their tally-slips for inspection. They should also, like before, be allowed to trade their fan goods after paying proportional tax. As to the removal of the pearl-beds supervisor and defender, it is requested that the grand defender eunuch director exercise concurrent supervision over the pearl beds and that the people be strictly forbidden from wearing pearl adornments without permission."

It was Imperially commanded that the arrangements be implemented as proposed.

Shi-zong: juan 118.2b-3a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 77, page 2792/93

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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/jia-jing/year-9-month-10-day-5, accessed January 22, 2019