Lobbying the Emperor: Maritime Trade Policies in Late Imperial China
Late imperial China's volatile maritime trade policies are not well explained by extant theories in international political economy. Building off historical scholarship on Ming and Qing maritime developments, my dissertation focuses on under-explored domestic political and economic dynamics of maritime trade policies in late imperial China. In doing so, I offer a general theoretical framework in which regime policies vary in terms of their durability, and in which the strategies of various domestic actors---including central and local bureaucrats as well as private commercial actors---are conditional on the nature of regime policies. The theory facilitates testable hypotheses about when and how different actors, including those not formally in the decision making apparatus, can influence shifts in foreign economic policies. My empirical strategy combines extensive qualitative archival work with an original time series dataset and statistical analyses. Data are primarily sourced from the First Historical Archives of China (中国第一历史档案馆) in Beijing, the Grand Secretariat Archives (內閣大庫檔案) in Taipei, and the National Palace Museum (國立故宮博物院) in Taipei. By shedding additional light on a crucial but poorly understood period of China's relationship with the world economy, the project aims to further our understanding of various domestic sources of authoritarian foreign policies.