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Chinese History - Jin Empire Economy

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As a pastural people that often undertook rides to the neighboring states and communities, the Jurchen employed slaves (criminals or war captives) as an important source of their economical output. During the course of the sinification of the Jurchen the system of slavery was given up, especially in the southern parts of the Jin empire where the Jurchen nobility sold their slaves, and where it was unpossible to further exert a slavery system within an environment that traditionally was characterized by a free peasantry. The second reason for the abolishment of slavery system was that the Jurchen imperium, that had expanded very quickly within only a decade, had to be governed by a more sophisticated administration system that ensured a larger state income, while the slavery system only served the interests of the single Jurchen warriors. Marxist historians describe this social change as the development from the slaveholder society to the feudal society whose representant was imperial China.
The northern part of China, especially the Central Plain (Zhongyuan 中原) along the Yellow River, had suffered badly through the ages, and the war between Jin, Khitan and the Northern Song Dynasty brought another period of disturbance to this geographical area. Meanwhile, the prosperous economy of the Song government mainly developed in the Lower Yangtze area (Jiangnan) where the Song government had fled after 1127. After the Prince of Hailing 海陵王 had shifted the capital to modern Beijing (hence called the "Southern Capital" of Jin, Zhongjing 中京), a large proportion of the Chinese population was admonished to settle down around the new capital. The economic center of the Jin empire thus shifted more to the north, and the Non-Chinese population of this area (Jurchen, Khitan, Bohai 渤海) gradually became sinified and adopted Chinese customs and language.
Peasants had to pay a poll tax (per cow, not per human) after the foundation of the empire (niutoushui 牛頭稅). With the adaption of the Song Dynasty administration system the double-tax system was introduced ("regular tax", zhengshui 正稅), and peasants had to pay tax in summer and in autumn, according to the size of their land. The use to lease fields (zudian 租佃) to tenant farmers became normal under the rule of Jin Shizong 金世宗. The experience of the Tang and Song rulers had been that there was a tendency for peasants to sell their land and to engage as tenant farmers that were not tax liable. Therefore, the Jin rulers several times undertook land reforms to redistribute fields and estates, and to restrict the size of the land acquired by the Jurchen warriors (shoutian 受田). Agriculture was of great importance for nourishment and for the income of the state household, and although the Jurchen themselves had been a nomadic cattlebreeding ethnic, most of their subjects were peasants, not only the Chinese, but also the Khitan and Xi 奚. Laws stimulated the Jurchen landowners to open untilled fields and to engage in agricultural activities. Of course, horsebreeding still was an important issue of farming activities of the Jurchen nomad people.
A further tax source was trade, and most goods were taxed with a kind of value added tax of three percent and later more. The Central Capital (modern Beijing) had three large markets where products from all over the counry were sold. Waterways were an important traffic tool, and Emperor Jin Shizong had reconstruced some old canals to the Central Capital. With the neighboring states, like the Southern Song, merchants traded through border markets (quechang 榷場). The valued import goods were tea and coin metal from Song China, and horses from the Tangut empire of Western Xia.
Zhenglong yuanbao copper cash, 1156Iron casting and producing was an important industrial field of the Jin empire, and people were stimulated to dig iron, silver and gold ores, but were not allowed to cast metal tools by themselves. The state had the monopoly of iron processing, and the most famous iron products of the Jin empire were made from "blue" refined iron (qingbintie 青鑌鐵). Later, a digging tax (kengshui 坑稅) was imposed on the collection of ores. For iron production, and for heating during the cold northern winters, mineral coal became a crucial raw material during this historical period. The printing technology became more advanced during the Jin period, as can be seen in the printing of numerous Buddhist sutras. During the conquest of the northern part of the Song Dynasty territory, fire weapons like bombs (zhentianlei 震天雷) were in use and demonstrated the high level of military technology. Quite advanced handicraft technologies were weaving, porcelain, and papermaking.
At the begin of the Jin empire, only old coins of the Liao and Song realms were used as currency, but from the 1150es on paper money (jiaochao 交鈔) was introduced, and the Jin emperors had casted their own coins, like the Zhenglong yuanbao 正隆元寶 and the Dading tongbao 大定通寶 coins. From 1197 on a silver currency (Cheng'an baohuo 承安寶貨) was in use.
Through the conclusion of peace with the Song empire the economy of Jin became more prosperous, but soon, under the pressure of the first Mongolian raids, the economic situation of northern China again became stressed. Further, three large inundations of the Yellow River at the end of the 12th century devastated large areas in modern Shandong province. Third, to finance the military activities against the Tatars and the Mongols, the Jin court issued more paper currency and thereby fastened the tendency of inflation. From 1200 on the court began to install military agro-colonies (tuntian 屯田 or maozhan 冒佔) to pay costs of war and to promote the motivation for fighting the ....


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