1.1C: Chinese Economic Developments

cash (2)

AP Theme

Economic Systems

Learning Objective 1C

Explain the effects of innovation on the Chinese economy over time.

Historical Development 1

The economy of Song China became increasingly commercialized while continuing to depend on free peasant and artisan labor.

 

Historical Development 2

The economy of Song China flourished due to increased production, expanding trade networks, and innovations in agriculture and manufacturing.

Historical Development 3

China’s commercial economy produced technological innovations that shaped developments across global regions.

Song dynasty China had an advanced commercial economy that resulted from various new ideas and technologies that allowed more Chinese to shift their focus from agriculture to commercial production.

Technologies that promoted commercial production in China diffused along global trade networks. These technologies changed the course of history.

Contents

Commercialization in Song Dynasty China

Main idea

Song dynasty China had an advanced commercial economy that resulted from various new ideas and technologies that allowed more Chinese to shift their focus from agriculture to commercial production.

The Song dynasty continued the economic success of previous Chinese dynasties by further commercializing China’s economy.

What is commercialization?

During this period in history, Song China was one of the most urbanized places in the world. Urban areas depended on trade and commerce to import everyday use products such as rice and export luxury goods like silk and porcelain for profit. Exchange within rural areas also expanded.

Commercialization in the Song dynasty

During this period in history, Song China was one of the most urbanized places in the world. Urban areas depended on trade and commerce to import staple products such as rice and export luxury goods like silk and porcelain for profit. Exchange within rural areas also expanded.

The Chinese capital of Hangzhou: The Song capital city of Hangzhou numbered over one million people, and dozens of other cities had populations in the hundreds of thousands. A Chinese writer in 1235 described Hangzhou as having specialized markets that sold various food products and manufactured goods such as books, silk, and porcelains. Italian explorer Marco Polo, who visited Hangzhou in the 13th century, described the city as “beyond dispute the finest and noblest city in the world.” The city also had

  • A thriving restaurant and bar scene
  • Inns and hotels
  • Schools for studying Confucianism and the arts
  • Social clubs for citizens with varied interests like Buddhism, fitness, fishing, and poetry.

Comparing economic production levels

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the value of all goods and services produced in an economy in a year. The values below are in billions of 2011 international dollars and adjusted for inflation.

Connection across time

China will remain one of the world’s largest economies until western powers dominate it in the 2nd half of the 19th century.

The causes of Chinese commercialization

Several factors were important in the advanced commercial economy that had developed in China by the 13th century China.

The global impacts of Chinese commercialization

Main idea

Technologies that promoted commercial production in China diffused along global trade networks. These technologies changed the course of history.

Chinese technologies slowly diffused across international trade routes. Non-Chinese civilizations adopted and improved upon these technologies. The technologies below are three of the most historically influential Chinese technologies.

Papermaking

The Chinese invented papermaking in the second century BCE. The technology slowly spread west. It entered Muslim Spain in the 12th century and then Christian Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries--a lag time of 1400 years. Modern papermaking methods allowed ideas and technologies to spread faster.

Moveable type printing

By the 15th century, the Chinese moveable type printing press had also found its way into Europe. As a result, the price of printing dropped, and new ideas spread rapidly. These new ideas weakened the Catholic church as new Christian leaders spoke out against the corruption within the church. European monarchs also became increasingly powerful as some took control of religion in their kingdoms from the Catholic Pope and others gained riches from the conquest of the Americas.

Gunpowder

Gunpowder was one of history’s most significant innovations. Accidentally invented by a Chinese alchemist, within a few centuries, gunpowder reshaped global warfare. By the 15th and 16th centuries, access to gunpowder was critical to a society’s survival. Because oceans separated the Americas from Afro-Eurasia, they did not have gunpowder weapons. When European powers arrived, they used their gunpowder weapons to conquer native tribes and steal tribes’ lands. African and Asian leaders with access to gunpowder conquered their neighbors and created new land empires.

!AP exam alert!

You must know how eastern technologies from places like China arrived in the western world and what those technologies’ impacts were on the west.