An Era of Prosperous Trade – Song Dynasty

China’s Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279) was ruled by a total of 18 emperors for a total of 319 years. Scholars have mentioned that the Song Dynasty was an era of prosperous commodity economy, cultural education, and scientific innovation.1 During the third year of Xian Ping Period (AD1000) of Northern Song, China’s GDP was $26.55 and accounted for 22.7% of the world’s economic output. AGDP per capita of $450 was higher than the $400 of Western Europe at that time. The British GDP percapita was $3191 after the first industrial revolution in 1870.2

In the Song Dynasty, limits of trade activities were lifted so that people were able to trade in living quarters and out of business hours in Bianjing.3 Furthermore, increasing in commerce and development of trade services reflected the prosperity of trade. Apart from urban markets, trade rapidly developed in rural areas as well. Foreign trade also matured in the Song Dynasty which led to the government instituting a commercial tax in foreign trade.4 Quangzhou was the geographical starting point of Maritime trade, an important aspect of foreign trade, and goods were trade throughout the East China Sea, Andaman Sea, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Pacific Ocean, and Indian Ocean. With the development of trade, the need of a currency grew and prompted the production of the first paper currency called Jiaozi. These measures are the reasons why Song Dynasty is the dynasty of commerce.

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The source of photo: China light Industry Press.

This article is written by He Ting, Cheng Jiabing.

  1. Guangming, Deng. “The Position of Wang Anshi in the Confucian School of North Song [J].” Journal of Peking University (Humanities and Social Sciences) 2 (1991): 002. []
  2. Maddison, Angus. The world economy volume 1: A millennial perspective volume 2: Historical statistics. Academic Foundation, 2007. []
  3. Kaifeng is a city in Henan Province and was previously called Dongjing, Bianjing. []
  4. Song Dynasty exported agricultural and handicraft items to Liao and Jing and imported domestic animals and crude drugs []

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