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Distributed for Hong Kong University Press

Sino-French Trade at Canton, 1698–1842

Sino-French Trade at Canton, 1698–1842 presents a rare and lively view of the French experience at Canton, and calls for a reappraisal of France’s role in that trade. France was one of the two most important Western powers in the eighteenth century, and was home to one of the three major European East India companies. Yet the nation is woefully underrepresented in Canton trade scholarship. Susan E. Schopp rescues the French from the sidelines, showing that they exerted a presence that, though closely watched by their rivals, is today largely unrecognized. Their contributions were diverse, ranging from finding new sea routes to inspiring the renovation of hong façades. Consequently, to ignore the French, or to dismiss them as simply “also-rans,” results in a skewed perception of the Canton system. Schopp also demonstrates that while the most distinctive aspect of the French model of company trade was the dominant role of the state—indeed, the French East India Company has been memorably described as a “Versailles of trade”—this did not rule out a place for legitimate, and sometimes surprising, participation by the private sector. On the contrary: France’s commercial relations with China were inaugurated by private traders, and the popularity of the Canton trade spurred the eventual demise of the company model. Backed up by extensive archival work, Schopp’s work demonstrates a remarkable understanding of the Sino-European trade, and her book reveals an unparalleled passion for the role of seamanship in history.

216 pages | 4 color plates | 7 x 10

History: Asian History, European History

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Table of Contents

List of Maps, Plates, and Tables
List of Abbreviations
Updated Names of French Archives
1. Chronological Overview of the French Trade at Canton, 1698–1842
2. A “Versailles of Trade”: The French Company Model of Sino-European Trade
3. East India Ships and Chop Boats
4. The Voyage and Sea Routes
5. The French Hong: The Physical Plant
6. The French Hong: Daily Work Life and Operations
7. Life Outside Work
8. Biographical Sketches
Appendix 1: French Trading Voyages to China, 1698–1842
Appendix 2: French Intra-Asian Trading Voyages to China, 1700–1803
Appendix 3: French Return Cargoes from China, 1766

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