The tobacco industry in Fujian was excellent and gained enough superiority to represent the tobacco industries in premodern China. It showed the process of the settlement and the diffusion of tobacco, a new growth-driving industry spatio-temporally a ...
The tobacco industry in Fujian was excellent and gained enough superiority to represent the tobacco industries in premodern China. It showed the process of the settlement and the diffusion of tobacco, a new growth-driving industry spatio-temporally and its socio-economic influence and importance.
Fujian was not only the first place where tobacco was introduced in China, but also the first place which produced and exported tobacco products, distributed the techniques for growing and producing tobaccos.
It was possible because of the socioeconomic atmosphere in Fujian such as its advanced trading businesses, early commercialization of tobacco products and its export, the preoccupation of processing techniques and reputations, the production of good quality tobacco and its elaborate processing, the continuous quality improvement, and the trade managements within the merchants from the same clans and country.
It was tobacco that replaced sugar and complemented the difference. Changtai(長泰) once a major sugar producer in Ming dynasty became a tobacco producer with the best quality in great quantity with lots of tobacco farmers, and it is an example that the new products played a important role in maintaining and developing the local economy instead of the existing crops which lost competitiveness
The tobacco produced in Zhangzhou(漳州) and Tingzhou(汀州) was sold in Hugwang(湖廣) as well as Jiangnan(江南), and Fujian tobacco gained popularity also in Hunan(湖南), so the once famous tobaccos produced in Hengyang(衡陽) disappeared, the tobacco companies run by big merchants from Shanxi(山西) and Shanxi(陝西) were closed down. They show that the Fujian tobacco had competitiveness national wide, and this competitiveness played important roles in economical developments in Fujian.
It was a common phenomenon that the industries and techniques in the advanced area were spread to the underdeveloped areas and eventually raised the productivity throughout China, and the tobacco industry showed it very well. In the late 16th century in Fujian tobacco which was introduced to Zhangzhou, a coastal area, along the trade routes was permeated to inland areas such as Tingzhou and Jianning(建寧) in the 18th century, and these areas got the reputations as tobacco producers.
At the same time, it was spread out of Fujian. In the early 17th century it was permeated into Jiangnan, and in the 18th century to Sichuan(四川), Hunan and like. During the late Kangxi period, Huangjiru(黃繼儒) a man from Zhangzhou went to Yuechi(岳池) in Sichuan and began to produce yansi(煙絲) a tobacco product and taught the tobacco processing techniques, and a man from Yongding built a tobacco product factory called Suyilong(蘇義隆) in Wuhan(武漢), and that promoted the localization of the tobacco industry.
These transference of manufacturing techniques vitalized the economy in the areas where tobacco was introduced like Fujian, and changed the economic structures and narrowed the economical gap between the local communities.
Tobacco production in Fujian became inseparable from the lives of Fujian people and it brought the emperor Qianlong(乾隆帝) who banned the plantation of tobacco to take an appeasement policy.
The tobacco industry also played a role as the economic foundation for enhancing the standard of living and developing cultural traditions among the people, and it helped in opening numerous academic institutes and schools, assisted the students to continue their studies, and subsidized building high pavilions and big houses like Zhenchengrou(振成樓). And it led the general development of the local economy by leading the tobacco related businesses such as financial business, transportation business, tobacco knife, bamboo box, and tobacco paper manufacturing industries and the like.