CONFERENCE: Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference 2024 (AAS)

GloCoBank's Nora Yitong Qiu, Research Associate for East Asia, will be presenting a paper at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference 2024 in Seattle, WA, 14-17 March 2024.


G013 - Money, Plague, and Migrants: Mapping East Asia's Financial Frontier Saturday, March 16, 2024, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM Room 612 (Level 6, SCC)

The Fall of Qing and the Rise of East Asia’s Global Payment System 1870-1912

Nora Yitong Qiu, University of Oxford



China’s traditional banking system by the mid-19th century could not fulfil the rapid need raised by China’s fiscal and technological modernization. The Qing government officials realized the importance of establishing a modern central bank and European-style banks. They tried to achieve their goal by founding central and provincial joint stock limited banks, half owned by the state and half owned by the merchants. However, all of these attempts failed. European banks won the trust of the market and became the dominant player, connecting China’s market to the global capital. Why did China’s government fail to achieve their goal? What role did European banks play in helping China’s government and merchants in conducting international business? What correspondent network did they form with China’s modern bank and government? This paper uses novel archive materials collected from HSBC, Beijing No.1 Historical Archive, Shanghai municipal archive, Tianjin municipal archive and Liaoning provincial archive to build a textual database on banking documents. The government memorials, newspapers, private letters and bank receipts show that the government's failure to set up a central bank had deep roots in the distrust developed between the merchant community and the government. Even the government itself used European banks to conduct international business, buying weapons and machinery. HSBC, Deutsch Asiatic Bank, and Chase Bank’s dominance had a strong correlation with their connections to the central government and their wide correspondent networks. European colonization gave foreign banks protection from local violent insurgence, providing a haven for both the government and capitalists.


See AAS Annual Conference Programme