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Wan-li: Year 21, Month 7, Day 23

19 Aug 1593

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Chen Zi-zhen, the regional inspector of Fu-jian, memorialized: "In the province of Fu-jian, land is scarce, people are many and the five grains do not grow abundantly. Thus, the coastal people use boats as houses, treat the sea as their fields, and trade with the fan for their livelihood. In years past, there was no contact with the fan , but there were many disturbances in the area. In recent times, there has been contact with the fan and things have been at peace internally and externally. The lesson is clear. Whenever there is prohibitions, the source of [these people's] wealth is obstructed, their livelihood is bleak, and they are in difficulty and distress. It is thus inevitable that they gather together as bandits. If those who winter abroad (壓冬者) are unable to return home, they will be increasingly anxious about their hometowns. If workers and merchants are not permitted to go abroad, they will go to sea as pirate gang members. If perchance they avail themselves of such a situation to engage in revolt and sail abroad, there will be no way to pursue and capture them. Then, together with their confederates, they will come and engage in piracy. Confucius noted: `In planning the use of arms, the troubles lay with Zhuan Yu'. We have now received investigation reports from the provincial administration commission and the provincial surveillance commission as well as from the Provincial Administration Commissioner of the Left Guan Da-xun and the Regional Commander Zhu Xian, noting that it would be appropriate to allow trade with the Eastern and Western Oceans, but that trade with Japan should continued to be prohibited. The trade should be strictly regulated by warrants and all goods should be examined. If anyone smuggles saltpetre or other such goods, they must be publicly executed. The merchants have parents, wives, children and family graves to consider, and will be content with trading. How could they dare to supply or collude with bandits, and make themselves subject to punishment with no pardon! Also, the ocean-going ships which come and go report on situations [abroad] and they can help us with our reconnaissance. The ship crews are also familiar with the winds and seas and they can provide service when we engage in deployment of forces. The [traders] provide fixed revenue of 20,000 [liang of silver?] and over the year there is a surplus. They also fund the needs of our armed forces. In these ways, they are beneficial, not only to the people but also to the government." The memorial was passed to relevant offices for their discussion.

Shen-zong: juan 262.9b-10a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 107, page 4864/65

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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/wan-li/year-21-month-7-day-23, accessed October 23, 2019