By C.D. Cowan

First released in 2005. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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47 THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF CHINA AND JAPAN costs inside China itself contributed to this inversion of relative prices between Canton and Kiakhta. * * * * With the development of materials about, and research on, the Kiakhta trade between Russia and China, it should be possible to define more closely the historical development of Russian-Chinese relations. By means of a close institutional comparison with Canton, new light may be thrown on the nature of the Chinese response to the European world.

On the Russian side, the new structuring of the trade consisted chiefly in the decline of furs, partly due to a decline in resources inside Siberia as a result of predatory hunting, and partly due to increased American competition directly at Canton. By 1826 the fur export had declined to 47-5 per cent of the total trade volume; by 1836-40, it constituted an annual 34-5 per cent and continued to decline. 1 The most significant change in the trade structure, however, took place in the growth of tea as the major item of import from China into Russia.

At the same time, the prices paid for tea in Kiakhta and in Canton, interestingly enough, approached each other. This may be explained by virtue of the fact that the average price for low quality brick tea and superior qualities of finer tea at Kiakhta more or less averaged out to equal, approximately, the general prices paid for medium quality teas by the English at Canton. In the five-year period 1775-80, the British were paying an average of 0-195 taels per lb. at Canton,2 while the Russians were paying an average of 0-185 taels per lb.

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