Chinese Imports of Silver by Country of Origin, 1550–1700 Japan 4 875 t (70%) Philippines 1 548 t (22%) Portuguese shipments to Macao 428 t ( 8%) Total 6 951 t
We see that 70% of Chinese silver actually came from Japan in the period 1550–1700, and only around 2 000 t (30%) from the Spanish and Portuguese traders. So how high was the proportion of American silver which ended up in China?
Silver Shipments from the Americas to Europe, 1500–1700: 33 668 t
So only 5.9% of the total silver production in the Spanish mines went to China, 94% went elsewhere, but where exactly? This question isn't unfortunately followed up by a third compatible stats, but there is one which should be sufficiently precise for our purposes. It is given in silver equivalents, that is silver and gold converted into an equivalent amount of silver:
Exports of Silver and Gold from Western Europe, 1601–1780, expressed in silver equivalent To the Baltic 10 055 (34,5%) To Eastern Mediterranean 9 000 (31%) Dutch & British to Asia 10 045 (34,5%) Total 29 100
So silver equivalent exports from Western Europe went to three regions to an equal share:
1. To the often overlooked Baltic trade which was of high importance to European trade since the days of the Hansa
2. The West-East trade in the Mediterranean remained just as important as the long-distance trade around the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean
3. The bulk of the Asian trade must have gone to the spice islands and the Indian subcontinent if we factor in the 2 000 t to China from above to the 10 045 t given here.
Conclusion: China was a main recipient of silver but not from the Americas but rather from close-by Japan. The silver flow from Western Europe remained to two thirds in the wider European region (Baltic and Levant), while China only received a comparatively small share of the rest of the silver: 2 000 t or about a fifth of the total amount exported to Asia. In sum, therefore, China's role in the international trade was modest from an European perspective.
SOURCE: A. Maddison, The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, 2003, 66f.
Edited by Tibet Libre, 14 July 2010 - 06:51 PM.