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The Hoppo's Books and the Guangdong Maritime Customs 1685–1842

Chao Huang (黃 超), Paul A. Van Dyke

Pages 89 - 120


The Hoppo's books were central to the management of the Canton trade, but to this
day, none of them have been found in China. By examining copies of these books
in Europe, and consulting other information available in European archives, we
now can explain more clearly what characterized these books and how they were
used in the administration of the trade. While none of the Hoppo's account books
have been found – in any country – so far, European records contain sufficient
data to confirm their existence, and these reveal their contents and role in
daily operations. The data obtained also reveal some internal flaws in the
customs operations, which weakened the administration over time. The Imperial
Household Department (Neiwufu 內務府), as can be shown, was partially responsible
for the demise of the Canton trade, because it failed to address problems in the
collecting of duties and had inadequate checks and balances, which resulted in
imperial revenues being diverted into private hands.

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