How Did China Influence Indian Ocean Trade?

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China’s trade growth began as early as the Han dynasty between 202 BCE and 220 CE. This era brought expansion of Chinese territory and new connections with the Indian and Parthian civilizations to the West. As Chinese technology and culture advanced, greater international interactions facilitated the growth of trade. The products exported from China were very high quality specialized goods and commercial crops, like silk, porcelain, and oranges. China’s control of the trade networks directed the flow of wealth and intellectual achievement for centuries. China’s state-of-the-art goods attracted traders from across the continent. This paper will examine why China dominated Indian Ocean trade networks during the Tang and Song dynasties.
A number of internal developments began China’s climb to trade domination. The Grand Canal, built mostly in 605 CE during the Sui Dynasty, led to to construction of larger cities throughout China.1 The rich soils on the southern half of China
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China’s agricultural surplus was a major focus of trade in the Tang Dynasty. Spices, and tea were specialized products exclusively grown in the South-China region and exported throughout the Indian Ocean.9 Foreign traders were also unaccustomed to the high-quality manufactured goods produced in China. The pottery formed and fired in China, particularly porcelain, were of the finest of the region. These pieces were purchased in bulk by the Middle Eastern civilizations.10 The Chinese standard was upheld in all exports, not just pottery. Fine silk and precious stones like jade were highly sought-after as symbols of wealth and beauty. Later, during the Song Dynasty, metal products began to be mass produced for trade. Iron consumption approached 1.5 kilograms per person per year, nearly three times as much as Europe during the same time period.11 There was also an extensive slave trade between China and

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