February 29, 2008
The Clash of the Asian and European Sea Trade Networks
Expansion of the China and the boom of exploration led Asia to be one of the prominent
influences of the Asian Trade Network.
In the 14
century, trade was between the areas of Asia,
Arabia, and India, with very little European involvement.
Beginning with the Portuguese and
followed by the Dutch and British, the Europeans destroyed the fine balance of this network.
Even though the old system was no more, these countries still benefited from the trade network,
just not as well as before.
The peaceful Asian sea trade network, which peaked during the
Chinese Ming dynasty, was disrupted by the coming of European traders in the 16
centuries which brought the establishment of the global economy.
The three main ports of the Asian sea trade network included Arabia, which featured
glass, tapestries, and carpets, India which had a wide variety of cotton textiles, and China, which
specialized in porcelain products, silk textiles, and paper production.
Japan, East Africa, and
Indonesia were also included in the trading network and supplied raw materials such as foods,
timber, and precious metals and stones.
Although there was high competition among the Asian
countries, the system as a whole was very peaceful and self-sufficient.
Asian sailors navigated
their voyages by sailing along the coastlines, following the monsoon winds, or using their
They charted their voyages using landmarks, cities, and ports.
They were funded by
their emperors and were required to bring back goods for tribute.
These tributes included goods
and treasures that they picked up along their journeys to Arabia, Africa, India, and they even
brought back animals from Africa back to the royal courts.
The trades between Asians, Arabs,