Tanap Research

Merchant Prince and King's Merchant: The Origin of overseas Chinese trans-national entrepreneurial network around East and South China Sea (1636-1683)

associated researcher

CHENG, Wei-Chung

curriculum vitae

The objective of the research is to demonstrate how a Chinese transnational entrepreneurial network emerged during the second half of the 17th century in the East and South China Seas rim.

It is argued that two main factores determined the status transformation of overseas Chinese. Those factors were the bullion monopoly carried out by �Merchant Princes�(VOC and the Zheng clan) and political centralization of the countries within the South China Seas rim during this period.
This political centralization accounted for the transition from Chinese junk traders to �king�s merchants�. Within view of these two factors, I intend to disclose the characteristics of this entrepreneurial network. It will be asserted that the nature of their ethnicity was mainly a creation of the particular economical situations at a particular moment in the world history. These Chinese merchants embedded themselves in different countries, and acted upon economical fluctuations that were cross-boundary. Thus, Chinese junk traders engaged in capitalism based on personal and cultural-ethnic level, rather than capitalism based on formal-institutional level.

Embedded into a state formation process of political centralization, they maintained their common economic interests and a common life-style without developing a distinct political identity. This research will untie the knots of unfocused theoretical debates such as �the sprouts of Chinese capitalism�, and relocate those debates within the context of more general discussions about �overseas Chinese capitalism�.

It is anticipated that this research will contribute to improve our understanding of independent self-identities of the various overseas Chinese communities, and deconstruct the misleading myth of cultural superiority as well as to further our knowledge of Modern Chinese Capitalism.


Prof. Dr. J. Leonard Blussé

Prof. CHEN, Kuo-tung

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