The rise of the southwestern frontier under the Qing, 1640-1800
This dissertation is a study of the domestic impact of the Qing dynasty's frontier strategies during the first half of the dynasty (1640-1800). It examines how the vigorous Qing frontier undertakings during this period played a significant role in shaping and maintaining the Qing policies towards the Southwest of China, namely, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, and explores how these policies functioned in the making of the particular socio-economic structure in this region. This study examines the change of the position of the Southwest in the strategic considerations of the Qing authorities. In the beginning of the Qing dynasty, the lack of both economic and strategic importance in the Southwest led the central government to neglect this region. This neglect caused the slow recovery from war devastation in the Southwest. The strategic importance of the Southwest grew with the unfolding of the intricate relationships between the Qing empire and the Tibetan authorities. When the Qing realized at the end of the seventeenth century that Tibetan affairs were central to both settling the Zunghar threat in the Northwest and pacifying the Mongol hordes in Mongolia and Kokonor, they began to build a strong military base area in the Southwest. This study demonstrates that militarization was of great significance to social and economic developments in the region. In order to retain adequate resources in the region to support military buildup and frontier campaigns, the central government deemphasized revenue collection from the Southwest. The low taxation provided the most important stimulus to the development of the region. Private merchants and regional elites capitalized on this, making the Southwest a major rice exporter from the 1720s to the 1790s. The Qing state encouraged and protected the circulation of rice to the lower Yangtze valley. This attitude of the Qing state towards marketing systems exemplifies its flexibility in directing the economic life of the country.
- History