|ReORIENT: FROM THE CENTRALITY OF CENTRAL ASIA
TO MIDDLE KINGDOM CHINA'S
ANDRE GUNDER FRANK
University of Toronto
96 Asquith Ave. Toronto, Ont. Canada M4W 1J8
Tel:416-972 0616 Fax:416-972 0071
Sino - "barbarian" relations ... constitute a central historical theme....Never try to begin at the beginning. Historical research progresses backward, not forward.... Let the problems lead you back
- John King Fairbank (1969:x,ix)
However beautiful the mosaic of specific studies that make up the "discipline" of history may be, without a marcohistory, a tentative general schema of the continuities, or at least, parallelisms in history, the full significance of the historical peculiarities of a given society cannot be seen.... Integrative history is the search for and description and explanation of such interrelated historical phenomena. Its methodology is conceptually simple, if not easy to put into practice: first one searches for historical parallelisms (roughly contemporaneous similar developments in the world's various societies), and then one determines whether they are causally interrelated.... If we do this, it may appear that in the seventeenth century for example, Japan, Tibet, Iran, Asia Minor, and the Iberian peninsula, all seemingly cut off from one another, were responding to some of the same, interrelated, or at least similar demographic, economic and even social forces.... "[Was] there a general economic recession in the seventeenth century or not?
- Joseph Fletcher (1985:39,38,54)
One contemporary "problem" is the "Rise" of East Asia and particularly of China. The author's ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (Frank 1998) re-orients our prespective by letting historical research take us backward to the world economic centrality of Middle Kingdom China until 1800. Thereby it also shows that contemporary developments in East Asia only re-orient the center of world history itself. A related problem is the resurgence of "The Great Game" in Central Asia. Its millenarian past was explored in the author's The Centrality of Central Asia (Frank 1992) and back through the Bronze Age in Frank (1993). The present essay relates these two themes and especially how Central Asia's centrality continued into early modern times but then gave way to that of Middle Kingdom China before 1800.
Asia's rightful and historically documented place has been denied by the dominance of excessively Eurocentric perspectives on early modern and recent world economic history - and social science! As the master [European/ist] historian Fernand Braudel (1979:134) astutely observed "Europe invented historians and then made good use of them." My critique of Braudel's and his student Wallerstein's still excessive Eurocentrism is in Frank (1994,1995,1996). It is time to help right these Euro- [or Western] centric mis-interpretations by historians, social scientists and the general public by offering an interpretation of modern and economic world history, which again allots Asia its due. That can show that all parts of Afro-Eurasia from Spain to Japan and indeed also the Americas and of course Central Asia were were responding to and interrelated by the same global demographic, economic and even social forces, as Fletcher supposed. Contributing thereto is the goal of the author's ReOrient.
The present essay offers some indications of where and how Central Asians fit - that is, continued to fit - into the mostly Asian scheme of things. I say "continued" to fit, for two main reasons: The first reason is that as I already argued in The Centrality of Central Asia, this region has beren central to Afro-eurasian history for several thousand years, at least for over a millennium and a half before, and still after, the beginning of the Christian era (also see Frank 1993). The second reason is that this centrality, and even the relevance, of Inner and Central Asia has not only been overly neglected but is even denied outright. Consider for instance the following glaring example in which the history of largely Islamic Central Asia during this period is largely dismissed by the Cambridge History of Islam:
Central Asia was thus isolated from the early sixteenth century ... and therefore led an existence at the margin of world history.... The discovery of the sea-route to East Asia rendered the Silk Road increasingly superfluous.... From the threshold of modern times Central Asian history becomes provincial history. This justifies us in giving no more than a rapid sketch of the following centuries (Holt, Lambton, Lewis 1970:471,483).
This dismissal is unacceptable, both in principle and on factual grounds. To begin with, the peoples of Islamic Central and Inner Asia certainly were not 'at the margin of world history,' if only because of the Timurid dynasty decended from Tamerlane, who had made his capital in Samarkand. Also the major Muslim states and regimes of the Ottomans in Turkey, the Safavids in Persia and the Mughals in India were formed by people who had arrived from Central Asia. Indeed, the Mughals considered themselves - and continued to import many high level administrators and other member of the intelligencia - from Central Asia (Foltz 1996,1997). Moreover, Inner Asian Mongols gave rise to the 'Chinese' Yuan dynasty, much of whose administrative structure was inherited by the Ming, which were then displaced by the Manchus, also from Inner Asia.
The alleged "Decline of Central Asia" has been much proclaimed but little examined. In particular as Fletecher asked [see epigrapoh above], did it suffer from "a general economic recession in the seventeenth century or not?" We will examine below how even insofar as there was any such small "decline," it was primarily cyclical and how that was again replaced by a renwed eighteenth century recovery. But first, it is well to place both the Eurocentric ideological dismissal and the real economic record of Central Asia in the broader world political-economic and cultural history of which it was and remains an important part.
The above-cited Eurocentric distortion of the real historical record has its roots in Adam Smith and Karl Marx. Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations in 1776:
The discovery of America, and that of the passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, are the two greatest events recorded in the history of mankind (Smith 1776/1937:557).
Marx and Engels followed in their Communist Manifesto in 1848:
The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonization of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.... (Marx and Engels 1848).
Alas however, Smith - writing still before the industrial revolution in Europe - was the last major [Western] social scientist to appreciate that Europe was a johnny come lately in the development of the wealth of nations. Smith still recognized Asia as being economically far more advanced and richer than anything in Europe. "The improvements in agriculture and manufactures seem likewise to have been of very great antiquity in the provinces of Bengal in the East Indies, and in some of the eastern provinces of China.... Even those three countries [China, Egypt and Indostan], the wealthiest, according to all accounts, that ever were in the world, are chiefly renowned for their superiority in agriculture and manufactures.... [Now in 1776] China is a much richer country than any part of Europe" (Smith 1937: 20,348,169).
However already by the mid-nineteenth century, Marx saw things from a new [European] perspective: England was allegedly showing India the mirror of its future and the United States was bringing progress to Mexico thanks to its 1846 war against that country. But whats more, Marx alleged that the "transition from feudalism to capitalism" and the "rising bourgeoisie" in Europe had transformed the world, supposedly since the genesis of capital [if not capitalism] in the sixteenth century - also in Europe! Then with the spread of European colonialism in the second half of the thy century, world history was re-written wholesale - and social science was [new] born, not only as a European, but as a Eurocentric invention. Other social "scientists" may have risen to dispute against Marx [and supposedly to agree with Smith], but they all agreed with each other and with Marx not only that 1492 and 1498 were the two greatest events in the history of mankind, but that ever since that history had been marked by the alleged uniqueness of [West] Europeans, which supposedly generated "The Rise of the West" and gave rise to "the development and spread of capitalism" in the world.
Foremost among these fathers [whatever happened to the mothers?] of modern social "science" was of course Max Weber. He alleged that the European "Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" made "General Economic History," and he assiduously studied "The Religions" of various parts of Asia to show that - and supposedly why! - the poor Asians were incapable of doing as well. Weber even wrote a book to deny that the Chinese had, or were capable of managing, real cities; even though Song China had already had cities of several million population, while [Western] Europe's largest city had barely 100,000 in Venice - and Europe's really largest city was Constantinople/Istanbul in the east, which was not "western" or even very "European" [rational?]! Marx's invention of a supposed "Asiatic Mode of Production," and later Wittfogel's [anti-Marxist] ideas about Asian "hydraulic/ bureaucratic" societies were all fashioned to this same Eurocentric end. Tawney turned Weber on his head [as Marx had done to Hegel] and argued that in fact capitalism came first, and then its spirit. No matter, for both agreed on the fundamentals with each other and with Marx:the Rise of Capitalism in Europe due to European exceptionalism. And so of course, did Sombart who stressed European rationalism in the rise of capitalism,as well as Hilferding, and you name him! [all German white men?].
Thus, for the past century and a half, modern world and economic history has been [mis]read and social science theory has been written from the vantage point of the ascendance of the West. That in turn has also been interpreted in almost exclusively Eurocentric terms. This Western-centric bias in modern and economic world history is so well nigh universal as to make its documentation hardly necessary or even possible. At least since the nineteenth century, almost all modern and economic world history has been written as though it began in Europe around 1500 and then spread out from there to "incorporate" and "modernize" first the Americas and then Africa and "traditional" Asia. This view has recently been termed The Colonizer's Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History by Jim Blaut (1993). Moreover, the ancient roots of this "modernizing" process of recent "capitalist" economic development and "enlightened" cultural/civilizational progress are also sought first within [Western] Europe itself and earlier on in Rome and Greece. The "orientalising" influence of Egypt and Mesopotamia upon Greece and Rome is too often ignored, as Bernal (1987) has argued in Black Athena. Even their ancient history is "Europeanized" as a supposed direct descendant of modern European developments. They drop out of sight and out of mind again after their momentary "contributions" to European history have been extracted from a Eurocentric perspective. Afro-Asians' history is not regarded in their own right. Their place in world and economic history, as well as their far-reaching contributions to Europe itself, are almost completely disregarded. The major concessions are to note in passing the Asian origins of such "items" as numbers, compass, gun powder, etc. -- but omitting even printing, which originated in China - and was also used by the Arabs - many centuries before Gutenberg was born!
Yet, Asian economic growth and intra-Asian trade continued on vastly greater scales than European trade and its incursions in Asia until the nineteenth century. India did not switch from being a net exporter of textiles to being a net importer until 1816. Moreland's (1936:201) now classic History of India already argued that "the immediate effects produced by the Portuguese in India were not great." Van Leur (1955) then challenged the then dominant excessively Eurocentric interpretation of events also elsewhere in Asia, that
the general course of Asian international trade remained essentially unchanged (193).... The Portuguese colonial regime, then, did not introduce a single new economic element into the commerce of southern Asia (118)....In quantity Portuguese trade was exceeded many times by the trade carried on by Chinese, Japanese, Siamese, Javanese, Indians... and Arabs (165).... Trade continued inviolate everywhere (164).... The great intra-Asian trade route retained its full significance (165)....Any talk of a European Asia in the eighteenth century [a forteriori earlier!] is out of the question (Van Leur 1955:274).
Now, more and more especially Asian scholarship [eg. Chaudhuri (1978), Das Gupta and Pearson, eds. (1987), Arasaratnam (1986), and the Cambridge Economic History of India edited by Raychaudhuri and Habib (1982)] has confirmed van Leur's message that Asian trade was a flourishing and on-going enterprise into which the Europeans only entered as an added, and relatively minor player. Indeed, "the change comes only late in the eighteenth century, and in a way it is an endogamous game. Europeans finally burst out, and changed this structure,but they exploded from within an Asian context (Das Gupta and Pearson 1987:20).
In political terms, the hegemonic influence of China, India, and the Ottomans was considerably greater than that of the Europeans. Asian hegemony was not seriously threatened before the second half of the eighteenth century. Islam's geographic expansion continued through the sixteenth century. Hodgson (1974, 1993) and Djait (1985) are emphatic that Islam was still decidedly dominant [hegemonic?] in the world at the end of that century or even later and that any contemporary observer had good grounds for anticipating more of the same.
Thus, as Abu-Lughod (1989:388) put it succinctly "the decline of the East preceded the rise of the West." But the question comes: When did this happen, and why? Even the Europeanist Braudel points out that this change did not occur in the sixteenth century, as is so widely claimed and as even Wallerstein (1974) argues in this examination of the rise of the "modern world-system."
A more Asian-based alternative reading of modern and economic world history gives Asia more of its historical due. Two recent pioneering departures stand out: Janet Abu-Lughod (1989) described a h century Eurasian world system Before European Hegemony, and Chaudhuri (1990) analyzed Asia Before Europe [also see Chaudhuri (1978, 1985)]. As their titles imply, these writers recognize the significance of Asia before European Hegemony. However, Abu-Lughod limits her purview to the thirteenth century and does not pursue Eurasian economic history into more modern times. Only Chaudhuri recognizes that Asian economic life continued to prosper long after the supposed sixteenth century "rise of the West." Paradoxically however, as we will note below, so does Braudel (1992) when he is not blinded by fixation on "the European world-economy." Although he was not a close "relative" of this group, another important precursor in this recognition was Marshall Hodgson (1974). His magistral three volume Venture of Islam not only claimed the central place in world history for Islam from the seventh through the ninth centuries, he also argued that Islam still or again merited this place through its expansion (again) in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. Similarly, Hichem Djait (1985:110) observes that in 1600 the greater part of the human race was in Islamic lands ruled by the Turkish Ottomans, Persian Safavids, Indian Mughals and other Muslims ranging from Africa to Southeast Asia. Hodgson (1993: 100) finds Muslims at both their political and cultural peak in the sixteenth and still in the seventeenth centuries.
The preponderance of Asia in the world economy has been masked not only by the attention devoted to "the rise of the West" in the world, but also by the undue focus on European economic and political penetration of Asia. The Europeans did not in any sense "create" either the world economic system itself nor "capitalism." Europe itself was not a first rank power nor an economic core region during these three centuries.
The historical evidence shows rather unequivocally that this "Great Transformation" (Polanyi 1957) or "transmutation" as Hodgson calls it, was not completed or even far advanced until the end of the eighteenth century or the beginning of the nineteenth. Until then there was still the "Perspective of the World in Asia Before European Hegemony in the Modern World-System" to combine the titles of Braudel, Chaudhuri, Abu-Lughod and Wallerstein.
EURASIA IN THE WORLD ECONOMY
AfroEurasian history had long since been cyclical, or at least pulsating. The present millennium began with a period of system-wide political economic expansion. It was apparently centered at its far "eastern" end in Song China, but it also accelerated an accentuated re-insertion of its "western" end in Europe, which responded by going on several Crusades to plug its marginal economy more effectively into the new Afro-Eurasian dynamic. A period of pan-AfroEurasian political economic decline and even crisis followed in the late thirteenth and especially in the fourteenth century. Another long period of expansion began in the early fifteenth century, again in East and Southeast Asia. It soon included Central-, South- and West- Asia, and after the mid fifteenth century also Africa and Europe. The "discovery" and then conquest of the Americas and the subsequent "Columbian exchange" were a direct result, and part and parcel, of this world economy/system wide expansion.
So, the "long sixteenth century" expansion in fact began in the early fifteenth century; and it continued through the seventeenth and into the eighteenth centuries. This expansion also continued to be primarily Asian based, although it was also fuelled by the new supplies of silver and golden money now brought by the Europeans from the Americas.
Reflecting the macroeconomic imbalances and also responding to corresponding microeconomic opportunities to make and take profit, the silver moved around the world in a predominantly eastward direction across the Atlantic and - via Europe - across the Indian Ocean, and westward across the Pacific from the Americas and Japan. Ultimately, the largest silver "sink" was in China, whose relatively greatest productivity and competitiveness acted like a magnet for the largest quantity of silver. However there as elsewhere, the incoming money generated increased effective demand and stimulated increased production and consumption and thereby supported population growth. The new supply of money failed to do so where the political economy was insufficiently flexible and expandable to permit growth of production to keep pace with the increase in the supply of money. In that case rising effective demand drove up prices in inflation, which is what happened in Europe.
In Asia, this expansion took the form of rapid growth of population, production, trade including imports and exports, and presumably income and consumption in China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, India, Persia, and the Ottoman lands. Politically, the expansion was manifested and/or managed by the flourishing Chinese Ming/Qing, Japanese Tokugawa, Indian Mughal, Persian Safavid, and Turkish Ottoman and Central Asian Tumorid regimes. The European populations and economies grew more slowly than all but the last of the above, and they did so rather differentially among each other. So did some "national" and other quite multi-ethnic European states, all of which were however much smaller than the large ones in Asia. The increased supply of money and/or population generated more inflation in Europe than in most of Asia, where increased production was more able to keep pace, including during the seventeenth century. In much of Europe however, economic and political growth were constrained and regionally even reversed in a major "seventeenth century crisis," which left most of Asia unscathed. Therefore also, population growth was faster and greater in Asia than in Europe, and so continued into the eighteenth century before inflecting after 1750.
The so-called "European hegemony" in the modern world system was very late in developing and was quite incomplete and never unipolar. In reality, during the period 1400-1800, sometimes regarded as the period of "European expansion" and "primitive accumulation" of capital leading to full capitalism, the world system was still very predominantly under Asian influences. The Chinese Ming/Qing, Turkish Ottoman, Indian Mughal, and Persian Safavid empires were economically and politically very powerful and only waned vis a vis the Europeans toward the end of this period and thereafter. Therefore, if anything, the modern world system was under Asian Hegemony, not European. Likewise, much of the real dynamism of the world economy also still lay in Asia throughout this period, not in Europe. Asians were preponderant in the world economy/system in production, capital formation, trade, and hegemonic power until circa 1750. One indication is Asia's share of world population grew from 60 percent in 1600 to 66 percent in 1750. However, this Asian population then still produced about 80 percent of world production. The absolute growth of production and population in and the relative shares of China and India were even greater. Meanwhile, over the several centuries "growth" Europe's, its share of world population remained stable at 20 percent and its share of world production was less than that [since Africa and the Americas also contributed to the 20 percent of world production that did not come from Asia] (Frank 1998).
The core regions, especially of industrial production, were in China and India; and West Asia and Southeast Asia also remained economically more important than Europe. Likewise, China and India were the primary centres of the accumulation of capital in the world system, and China was in overall balance of trade surplus throughout most of this period. Indeed, Europe was in deficit with all regions to the East. West Asia was in surplus with Europe, but in deficit with India. India was in surplus westward but in deficit eastward to Southeast Asia and China, whence India re-exported bullion received from the West.
In world economic terms not even India, but China was the frontrunner, exporting huge quantities of valuable commodities and importing vast quantities of silver. India, however, does not seem to have been far "behind" China in this regard, being the seat of very significant industrial centres, particularly in cotton textiles, and importing huge quantities of bullion, being a "sink" for gold in particular. West Asia too seems to have continued to prosper both from its own industrial base, in cotton and silk textiles for instance, and from trans-shipments of commodities between Europe and the rest of Asia. Both Southeast Asia and Central Asia appear to have prospered, largely on the trans-shipments of bullion and goods between regions, but in the case of Southeast Asia also in terms of silk exports of its local production, especially to Japan. One thing is very clear: Europe was not a major industrial center in terms of exports to the rest of the world economy, and in fact it had a chronic balance of payments deficit due to the bullion drain to Asia. Only its colonial sphere in the Americas explains its viability in the world economy, without which it could not have made good its huge deficits in the commodities trade with Asia. Even so it never had enough money to do so as the poor Europeans wished, for as a Dutch trader reported home in 1632, "we have not failed to find goods ... but we have failed to produce the money to pay for them" (Braudel 1979: 221). This problem was not overcome until the end of the eighteenth century, and especially the nineteenth century when the flow of money was finally reversed to go from East to West.
Thus, long before the birth of the "European world-economy" and still long after its advent, the world economy had a far-flung division of labor and intricate trade system, which was preponderantly Asian. The introduction of American silver [and to a lesser extent gold] and with it of Europeans into this Afro-Eurasian economy only increased and accelerated quantitative economic growth in an otherwise qualitatively ongoing system.
So from the beginning and still throughout this early modern period until at least 1800, productivity, production, and accumulation was greater in Asia than elsewhere in the world. Indeed it was greater in each of two or more "regional" parts of Asia than in any other "region" of the world. Mooreover, the increase in European [participation in] accumulation was possible only thanks to its use of American silver to gain access to the process of accumulation in Asia, which included Inner and Central Asia. In the absence of that economy or its dynamic in Asia, Europe would not have gone or gotten anywhere! That is, Europe would have remained where it already was: in world economic terms, just about nowhere; or it would have made its way only through the Atlantic triangle, which was much smaller and poorer than the Asian economies. For instance as Dennis Flynn (1996) has aptly observed, without China's world economic demand for silver there would have been no rise or decline of the Spanish [Habsburg] Empire. Also without Japan's competitive supply of silver to the Chinese market, world and European economic history would have been altogether different.
A SIN0-CENTRIC WORLD ECONOMY
Thus, there indeed was a globe encircling world-wide trading system and division of labor. It bound agricultural "hinterlands" and peripheries to their respective provincial and regional metropolitan centers and maritime port and/or inland emporia cities. These in turn developed and maintained dense and far-reaching inter-provincial, inter-regional, and world systemic inter-"national" economic relations. These were most visible through traders and trade, and in their resultant imbalances of trade. However, the former also reflected widespread and deepgoing inter-regional and inter-sectoral complementarities and competition in the global division of labor. All of these in turn also reflect the relative - and indeed absolute - weight and dominance of the Asian economies, and of China in particular. This global multilateral trade, also in Asia, was expanded through the infusion into of American money by the Europeans. Indeed, that is what permitted Europeans to increase their participation in the global economy, which until and even through the eighteenth century remained dominated by Asian production, competitiveness, and trade.
The "thirteenth century world system" and ity major "regional" patterns analyzed by Abu-Lughod (1989) persisted in the world economy through the eighteenth century. She identified three major - and within each of these some minor - regions, in eight mutually overlapping regional ellipses that covered Afro-Eurasia in her account of the world economy. These included regions centered - going from west to east - on Europe, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the South China Sea, as well as Inner and Central Asia. All of these regions continued to play more or less major, but not equal, roles in the world economic division of labor and system of "international" trade, despite the addition of an Atlantic ellipse in the sixteenth century.
However, some of these regions were certainly more equal than others; and their relative positions also underwent some cyclical or other temporal changes. Although the Atlantic Ocean displaced the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas as the preponderant locus of European trade in the eighteenth century, it still did not begin to match the importance of the Indian Ocean and the China Sea regions in the world economy and its trade. A number of works by mostly Asian historians, cited above and also in the chapters that follow, are helping to put the Indian Ocean economy on the map, as its important place and role in history well merits. The work of Hamashita (1988,1994) on the centrality of China in the "East Asian Tribute/Tade System" and the proposed research by him and Arrighi and Selden (1996), are designed to help remedy the serious neglect of China. The present account can also contribute to the elucidation of the structure and transformation of this East Asian "regional" economy by stressing the longstanding bilateral relations of China with Central Asia.
Thus another "regionalization" of the world economy may emerge, which could be visualized in the form of concentric circles. Among these, China [and within that the Yangze valley and/or South China] would form the innermost circle. The "East Asian Tribute Trade System" studied by Hamashita (1988,1994) would form the next circle, which beyond China included at the very least parts of Central Asia, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia. However, we have seen that the boundaries of this circle as well were porous and uncertain, and Hamashita himself recognizes its extension to South Asia. That in turn of course had millenarian old close relations with West Asia and East Africa, as well as with Central Asia, which in turn became increasingly enmeshed with Russia and that with China. These regions could be said to form a next outer band, which we can then perhaps identify as an Asian, or Afro-Asian, regional circle. So, within this global economic circle, we can then successively view the smaller concentric pan-Asian, West -, Central-, South-, East- Asian, and Chinese economic circles in ascending order of "centrality." Europe and across the Atlantic the Americas would then occupy their rightful places in the outer band of the concentric circles, since Asia also had economic relations with Europe and through its mediation with the Americas, which included the trade from Asia directly across the Pacific on the "Manila Galleons."
Apart from focusing on China, East Asia, and Asia respectively as major world economic regions, such a concentric circle mapping of the global economy also puts Europe and even the Atlantic economy in their marginal place.
The international division of labor and relative sectoral productivity and regional competitiveness in this world economy were reflected in the global pattern of trade balances and money flows. These regional patterns may be summarized in several not mutually exclusive ways. None of them, however, correspond to the received image of a "capitalist world-economy" that began in Europe and only then expanded to "incorporate" one region after another elsewhere in the world until the West dominated them all.
In the structure of the world economy, four major regions maintained built-in deficits of commodity trade: The Americas, Japan, Africa and Europe. The first two balanced their deficit by producing silver money for export. Africa exported gold money and slaves. That is in economic terms, these three regions also produced "commodities" for which there was a demand elsewhere in the world economy. The fourth deficitary region, Europe, was hardly able to produce anything of its own for export with which to balance its perpetual trade deficit. Europe managed to do so primarily by "managing" the exports of the three other deficitary regions, from Africa to the Americas, from the Americas to Asia, and from Asia to Africa and the Americas. The Europeans also participated to some extent in trade within Asia, especially between Japan and elsewhere. This is intra-Asian "country" trade was marginal for Asia but nonetheless vital for Europe, which earned more from it than from its own trade with Asia.
Southeast Asia and West Asia also produced some silver and gold money, which contributed to balance their trade. Unlike Europe however, they were able also to produce some other commodities for which there also was an export demand. Both Southeast- and West- Asia also realized "export" earnings from their respective locations at the south eastern and south western trade turntables of the central Asian economies. To some extent, so did Central Asia.