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 Galleaons."
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.
The major importer and re-exporter of both silver and gold bullion was Western and Southern Europe, to cover its own perpetual massive structural balance of trade [b/t] deficit with all other regions, except [perhaps] with the Americas and Africa, although the Europeans received African and especially American bullion without giving much in return. Western Europe, had a b/t deficit with and therefore re-exported much silver and some gold to the Baltics and Eastern Europe, to West Asia, to India directly and via West Asia, to Southeast Asia directly and via India, and to China via all of the above as well as from Japan.
West Asia had a b/t surplus with Europe, but a b/t deficit with South-, Southeast-, and East Asia [and with Central Asia?]. West Asia covered its b/t deficits to the East with the re-export of bullion derived from its b/t surplus with Europe, the Maghreb and via it with West Africa, and gold from East Africa, as well as some of its own production of both gold and silver, especially in Persia. India had a massive b/t surplus with Europe and some with West Asia, based mostly on its more efficient low cost cotton textile production and export. These went westwards to Africa, West Asia, Europe, and from there on Across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and the Americas. In return, India received massive amounts of silver and some gold from the West, directly around the Cape or via West Asia. India also exported cotton textiles to and imported spices from Southeast Asia, and also via the same exchanged cotton textiles for silk and porcelain and other ceramics from China. However, India had a b/t deficit with Southeast Asia and especially with China. Therefore, India was obliged also to re-export especially silver both to Southeast Asia and to China. Southeast Asia exported spices and tin of its own production to Europe, West Asia, India and re-exported imports from India to China, which were its major customers, some eight times more than Europe. Additionally, Southeast Asia exported gold from its own production to India, China, and Japan, although it received silver from India, some of which it also was re-exported to China via Malacca. So, Southeast Asia seems to have had a b/t surplus with India [and of course with West Asia and Europe] but still a b/t deficit with China.
China had a b/t surplus with everybody, based on its unrivalled manufacturing production and export of silks and porcelain and other ceramics. Therefore, China, which like India had a perpetual silver shortage, was the major net importer of silver and met much of its need for coinage out of imports of American silver which arrived via Europe, West Asia, India, Southeast Asia and with the Manilla galleons directly from Acapulco. China also received massive amounts of silver and copper from Japan and some through the overland caravan trade across Central Asia.
So the two major regions that were most "central" to the world economy were India and China. That centrality rested primarily on their outstanding absolute and relative productivity in manufactures. In India, these were primarily its cotton textiles that dominated the world market, and to a lesser extent its silk textiles, especially in India's most productive Bengali region. Of course, this competitiveness in manufacturing also rested on productivity on the land and in transport and commerce. They supplied the inputs necessary to supply raw materials to industry, food to workers, and transport and trade for both, as well as for export and import.
The other, and even more "central" economy was China. Its even greater centrality was based on its even greater absolute and relative productivity in industry, agriculture, [water] transport, and trade. China's even greater, indeed the world economy's greatest, productivity, competitiveness and centrality was reflected in its most favorable balance of trade. That was based primarily on its world economic export leadership in silks and ceramics and its exports also of gold and copper coin and later of tea. These exports in turn made China the "ultimate sink" of the world's silver, which flowed there to balance China's almost perpetual export surplus. Of course, China was only able to satisfy its insatiable "demand" for silver; because it also had an inexhaustible supply of exports, which were in perpetual demand elsewhere in the world economy.
The complexity of the international division of labor and the network of world trade was of course vastly greater than this simplified summary. However, even this mere summary statement should suffice to indicate that and how all of these world regions were integral parts of a single world economic system between about 1400 and 1800 AD. And so was Central Asia!
CENTRAL ASIAN DECLINE OR CONTINUED CENTRALITY OF CENTRAL ASIA?
There has been much debate about the "decline" of Central Asia.
Alas, some of it simply repeats suppositions, such as the alledged replacement of trans-Asian overland by circum-Asian maritime trade, without even checking the historical evidence.
We will review that below. Other terms of the debate have been guided by anything but historical accuracy. Thus, Russians and Central Asian have marshalled quite a lot of "evidence" during Soviet times, as surveyed by Weinerman (1993). Alas however, the evidence is difficult to interpret; since it was used and misused in debates whose focus fluctuated back and forth over time in accord with changing Soviet political interests and ideologicval lines. To legitimize Soviet power in Central Asia, it was convenient to contrast it favorably with Czarist contributions to the "decline of Central Asia." When Central Asian nationalism challenged Moscow's rule and the latter wanted to defuse the former, it became convenient even for the Soviets to argue that Russian rule even under the Czars had not been so bad after all. Then the evidence was marshalled to show that the seventeenth century "decline" in Central Asia was already overcome and again reversed in the eighteenth century. Related debates pitted Russians and Central Asians against each other on the question of whether the former or the latter themselves deserved the credit for the "recovery" and/or whether the earlier "decline" was only a Russian myth in the first place.
Additionally, the debates about decline and/or progress in Central Asia was also a function of the perennial dispute about "modes of production" and whether "capitalism." Did it germinate and flourish indigenously in Central Asia? Was it strangled or promoted there by Russian colonialism? How does Soviet power and/or ideology serve anti-colonialism and the "non-capitalist" and then "socialist" path in the Third World - and in Central Asia? Here is yet another illustration of how literally mis-leading these "mode of production" categories are. They distract our attention from what really went on, as I have argued in Frank (1991/93, 1996). The political/ ideological motivation and underpinning of this still ongoing debate renders the "evidence" marshalled by all sides rather suspect for our more "innocent" use, although readers of Russian may be able to separate some grain out from all that chaff. I, alas, am obliged to return to other sources.
Certainly there was no "decline" of Central Asia before 1600.
Sixteen times more spices were transported overland by Asians through West and parts of Central Asia than went around the Cape on Portuguese ships in 1503, and still almost four times as many took the Red Sea route as the Cape route in 1585 (Das Gupta 1978: 257).
Then the question comes to what extent any economic "decline" in Central Asia was or was not part of the "seventeenth century crisis," which has been widely remarked upon for various parts of the world, in particular Europe and Southeast Asia. Fletcher (1985:54) also asked specifically "is there a general economic recession in the seventeenth century or not?" The answer seems to be No. There were two-three decade long crises also in China and Japan, and perhaps the Ottoman Empire. However, they were apparently caused by temporary problems of climatic and agricultural production, [world] silver supply and fiscal deficits, and consequent political upheaval. Reviewing Asia region by region over the century as a whole shows that there was no such general "seventeenth century crisis" in Asia. On the contrary, the seventeenth century witnessed continued, if not always continual, economic expansion in many parts of Asia, and especially in East-, South-, and West-Asia (Frank 1997).
Rossabi attributes decline in and of Central Asia to two main factors: severe draught [the little ice age] and political upheaval, including especially that which ended the Ming Dynasty in 1644 and replaced it by the Manchus, the fall of the Timurid Empire in western Central Asia, and problems with Mughal rule in northern India. Chinese tribute/trade missions to the Tarim Basin oases did decline at the end of the sixteenth century, and even moreso before 1640 during the last decades of Ming rule, when Turfan also sought to assert control over the northern Tarim basin trade routes. Mongol-Ming relations also deteriorated again (Rossabi 1975 and 1990). However, one student attributes at least some of the decline also to more distant problems among the Safavids along the other end of the line in Persia (Adshead 1988: 196-7).
It is easier to accept Rossabi's empirically based observation that "the common assumption that seaborne commerce superseded caravan trade needs qualification" (Rossabi 1990:367). More doubtful is attribution in the next sentence that the seventeenth century decline must be due to "the political disruptions that afflicted most of the Asian regions through which caravans travelled were major causes for the decline.... In sum, the decline of central Asian caravan trade cannot be attributed solely to economic considerations" (Rossabi 1990: 367). Perhaps, but why could the cause-effect relation not have been the other way around: that drought and economic decline generated political conflict? That has generally been [more] true elsewhere and also at other times, and could more plausibly explain why "commerce via northwest China declined considerably" (Rossabi 1975: 264). In East and South Asia however, climatic problems were especially severe only in the decade of the 1630s. The early and later seventeenth century was a period of marked economic expansion in both China and India. That renders the thesis of such "decline" doubtful also in Central Asia. This is all the moreso the case, inasmuch as trans-Central Asian trade revived again along with the eighteenth century trade expansion and "commercial revolution" elsewhere, which had already started in the seventeenth century. Steensgard (1972) observed that then trade shifted to a more northerly route between Russia and China. Peter the Great and his followers certainly promoted and benefited from this Russian trade.
Similarly, Fletcher (1985/1995) also rejects the argument [or rather the assumption] that trans-continental trade was replaced by maritime trade, but he does notice "nomadic economic decline" beginning in 1660 in Outer Mongolia. Like Steensgard also, he remarks on the establishment of more northerly trade routes by Russian traders also serving a growing population in Siberia. Since 1670 already, the Russians increasingly displace "Bukhariot" traders [who were not only from Bukharia] who previously had a corner on the more southerly long-distance routes across Central Asia. Fletcher stresses three additional factors: one is the seventeenth century demographic decline, which was common to much of Eurasia [and plays the key role in Goldstone's (1991) demographic/structural analysis of crisis after 1640]. Another were the advances in military [gun] technology, which made warfare much more expensive and put nomad bands at a -since then permanent - competitive disadvantage with larger/richer states/empires, as proposed by Hess (1973).
A third observation by Fletcher is that intra-regional trade expanded in various parts of Eurasia. This regionalism may have diminished the market for trans-Central Asian trade. However, that did not deprive particular parts or regions of Central Asia of economic functions as suppliers and markets for regions contiguous to them, which were growing economically and commercially. Thus, we have already observed above that both the spice and the silk trades actually made increasing use of caravan trade routes through parts of Central Asia, contiguous and complimentary to the Persian Gulf and Read Sea trade routes between Asia and Europe. Similarly, the Moghul expansion southward through the Indian subcontinent generated a large demand for horses, for military and other purposes, for which
various regions in Central Asia were the "natural" suppliers, both in the west along with Persia and farther east in Tibet and Yunnan. Travellers like Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta had already remarked on these Central Asian regions' very profitable sale of horses southward into India as analyzed by Richards (1993) for the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The horse trade continued, however, in later times as well. Reportedly, 100,000 horses a year were exported from Central Asia in the early seventeenth century, of which 12,000 alone for the Mughal's stables (Burton 1993:28).
Similarly, regional trade persisted - in its age-old fluctuating fashion - between the Mongols and China, although the formers' last serious military threat [but not yet competition, see below] to the latter seems to have been repelled by the Ming. To do so however, they had to turn their attention northward- and even move their capital northward to Bejing - and sacrifice many commercial maritime opportunities in the South after they halted further trade missions, such as Chen Ho's in 1433. This same regionalization and the new methods and costs of warfare that Fletcher stressed may be the explanation for the events, which Togan analyzes when she writes
the aim of this paper is to bring a further qualification to the decline of the Silk Routes by demonstrating that trade and traders did not cease to function [in the seventeenth century], and that, instead, state formations that were playing the role of intermediaries along the Silk routes were eliminated. Their elimination was due to the expansion of the sedentary empires of the early modern age. It was the moment  when two of these empires, the Chinese and the Russian, came to direct contact with each other ... that the intermediaries lost their function. As a result, the merchants, in this case the [Bukharan] Muslim merchants of the Silk routes, became merchants of the empires who were involved much more with internal trade within these empires than with transcontinental trade, as was the case earlier (Togan 1990:2).
However as Adshead (1993: 179) suggests, these developments also meant that the seventeenth century decline of trans-Central Asian caravan East-West trade was complemented if not replaced by regional North-South trades, so that "Central Asia did not decline" (Adshead 1993:200). For Sino-Central Asian trade, Rossabi (1975: 139-165) catalogues Chinese imports from Central Asia of horses, camels, sheep, furs, swords, jade, ginseng and other medicines, as well as gold and silver; and Chinese exports of paper money [spendable only in China on] textiles, clothing, [other] drugs,tea, paper, porcelain, and after the late fifteenth century some silver instead of paper money.
The trade and trade routes of both West- and South- Asia had always been and continued to be intimately tied into - and through - adjoining regions of Central Asia. Indian inland trade moved by ubiquitous short-haul coastal [small boat] shipping, over inland waterways where available such as in parts of South India, and mostly by caravan numbering 10,000 to 20,000 [some reports say up to 40,000] pack animals at a time, as well as by various combinations of all of the above -- and with transhipment to or from long distance maritime trade. "We see the relation between activities on land and sea as asymmetric. Most of the time sea activities had less influence on those on land than vice versa" (Pearson and Das Gupta 1987:5) Almost all the port cities were in organic symbiosis with the caravan routes into and from their respective hinterland interiors and sometimes also with distant trans-continental regions, especially in Central Asia. In southern India, the inland capital of Vijayanagara was for a long time the focal point of trade to and from Goa in the west, Calicut in the south, and Masulipatnam and Pulicat on the Coromandel coast to the east. These and many other port cities, and of course especially those with no or relatively unproductive hinterlands, were highly dependent on staple food imports, via other port cities from father up or down the coast, but often also from ports with access to rice and other grain producing areas thousands of miles distant. Moreover, the first and last named port cities and Vijayanagara also had overland connections to the north, both to inland centers such as Hyderabad and Burhanpur and to the northwest Indian port of Surat [or at other times Cambay], which in turn were entrepots for the Punjab and north of that Central Asia. However,
the trade of Central Asia had no such direct connections with the sea, and yet the whole regions itself exercised a vital influence on the lives of the people closer to the monsoon belts of the Indian Ocean. In terms of direct relationships, the Central Asia caravan trade was complementary to the trans-continental maritime commerce of Eurasia.... The rhythm of trade and its volume were themselves function of the two separate conduits. When the overland route was obstructed or made politically unsafe, the seaborne trade gained at its expense.... The overland trade followed geographical lines which had been worked out over many centuries, and the relative merits of alternative road-systems were well understood. The trade was also highly organised (Chaudhuri 1978: 172)
Moreover, there was a millenarian and still continuing India - China trade across Nepal and Tibet. That is, Bengal and Assam exported textiles, indigo, spices, sugar, hides and other goods to Tibet for sale to merchants there who took them on for sale in China. Payment was in Chinese products, tea, and often as necessary gold (Chakrabarti 1990). [I have discussed some of these Central Asian routes and their "silk road" history in Frank (1992).
North-south trade routes also ran through Russia, especially along the major rivers, into the Ottoman and Persian empires, to whom Russia also exported furs and re-exported some silver and gold in turn. Persia became the major West Asian exporter of silk, produced at costs that were lower even than those of China and then of Bengal (Attman 1981:40). Major importers were Russia, Caucasia, Armenia, Mesopotamia, the Ottomans, as well as via the Ottomans the Europeans. This trade generated important earnings of silver and other income for the Persians producers from Russia, Europe and the Ottomans, but also made profits for the Ottoman middlemen.
Trade between Russia and Central Asia [in the latter especially to Khiva, Bukhara and Balkh, and to/from Orenburg and several other Siberian cities] also continued to prosper and indeed in the eighteenth century to grow. First, the caravans from Central Asia had also to carry some gold and silver in settlement for their purchase of Russian exports. However in the later eighteenth century, the exchange became more balanced as Central Asians exported more cotton and textiles to the Russians; and then the balance of trade turned to favor Central Asia, and Russia itself had to export precious metals to the Central Asians and then also to China (Attman 1981: 112-124). Accordingly, one Tsar after another issued edicts prohibiting the export of precious metals and coin. Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century and all the moreso in the eigtheenth century, the Russian state sought to reserve trade to its subjects and to exclude Bukharan and other Central Asian competition (Burton 1993).
Moreover, with Russian expansion into and through Siberia, beginning rapidly in the first half of the seventeenth century, the export of furs from Siberia increasingly complimented those from European Russia; therefore, money flowed farther eastward as well and itself helped open up Siberia. At the eastern end of Siberia and Eurasia, the Russians became important customers for tea from China, and Russian merchants and the Czarist government sought trading privileges in the eastern Russian-Central Asian-Chinese regional trade.
After the rapid Russian advance through Siberia in the first half of the seventeenth century, Sino-Russian competition for Central Asian and Siberian trade and territory and political power waxed and waned. The Russians seemed more intent on [long distance] trade, and the Chinese were apparently more concerned with political control [that offered regional/local tribute and trade]. By mutual agreement therefore, Russian trade was safeguarded but its political power in the region was ceeded in the 1689 the Treaty of Nerchinsk to China, until the latter again lost control in 1860 and only regained any in the mid-twentieth century.
Indeed, the Western Mongols gained control of the Oases along the northern branch of the Silk Road through the Tarim basin [which the Chinese had controlled only off and on since Han times]; and another competitive struggle for this vital area ensued until the Quin regime finally annexed to China the by now largely Muslim Uighur Xinjiang [whose interest in regaining its independence has only been heightened by the recent separation of the Muslim Soviet Central Asian republics].
In the late seventeenth and from the early eighteenth centuries, trans-continental trade was diverted from the more southerly routes across Central Asia to more northerly ones through Russia. In part, this change followed or accompanied the Russian settlement of Siberia. In part, as a consequence of the same, there was increasing Sino-Russian cross-border and onward trade. In part, Russian rulers since Ivan the Terrible [1533-1584] had been trying to shift or entice the Silk Road to pass through Russian territory (Anisimov 1993:255). Peter the Great [1682-1725) was determined to succeed. He wrote to his ambassador to Persia "...is it possible to make some obstacle to the Smyrna and Aleppo trade, where and how?" (cited in Anisimov 1993:255). Moreover, Peter also had other related ideas: War against Persia in 1722 [taking advantage of its temporary weakness due to troubles at the Safavid palace] and then with Turkey in 1723, with whom he sought to partition Persian territories and trade routes, all for commercial reasons. When he captured Baku on the Caspian Sea, he was "toasted joyfully [to] the health of Peter the Great, who had entered upon the path of Alexander the Great" -- to India! (ibid 259). The magnet for Peter were the riches and trade of India, and it became an obsession with him to find a water route thither. He sought one or another via the Caspian Sea, the Oxus and other rivers, and inquired about diverting rivers and constructing connecting canals. Moreover, Peter also sent Bering [for whom the straits have since been named] to seek a passage between the Russian east and the Americas. As his ambassador to Persia, Artemy Volynsky, later recalled "according to His Majesty's designs, his concern was not for Persia alone. For, if matters had succeeded for us in Persia and his exalted life had continued, of course he would have attempted to reach India, and he nurtured intentions even to the Chinese state, which I was honored from his Imperial Majesty ....to hear myself" (in Ansiminov 1993: 263). So the received Eurocentric, "emphasis on Baltic commerce tends to obscure the development of Muscovite trade with the east....[in which] Turkey, Persia, the central Asian khanates, and China played important roles as well," not to mention Peter's interest to benefit from the flourishing India trade (Oliva 1969: 129).
Burton (1993) also surveys Bukharan Trade 1559-1718, which however includes trade also by non-Bukharans. His maps and text record continuing trade routes and substantial trade - and therefore division of labor - of commodities, far too many to list here, of sumptuary as well as daily use. Particularly noteworthy however are slaves from all over [including Germany and Eastern Europe, but especially "non-Christian" ones from the west and "non-Muslim" Hindu ones from the south]; horses and other livestock as well as hides, skins, and furs; fibres and textiles of all fibres and sorts; indigo and other dyes; metals and metal wares and especially small arms; porcelain and other ceramics; food of all sorts including grains, sugar, fruits and especially rhubarb; medicines; tea and tobacco; precious stones;, and of course precious metals and coins. The trade routes connected Central Asian emporia such as Khiva, Bukhara, Balkh, Smarkand, Kabul and many others northward, westward, southward, and eastward. Northward they went via Astrakhan and Orenburg to Moscow and onwards from there to Eastern and Western Europe. Westward, they went to Persia, the Levant and Anatolia and/or via the Black Sea route to Istanbul and the Mediterranean. Southward, they went into India. Eastward, they went along the old "Silk Road" to China and northeastward to Siberia and through the same also to China.
In short, all dismissal of Inner and Central Asia from early modern and still continuing world history is premature - or rather a belated consequence of latterday Eurocentrism. Burton (1993:84) concludes, "throughout the period reviewed [1559-1718 Central Asians] continued to ply their trade, regardless of dangers and difficulties. They carried an enormous variety of goods,and were always able to adjust to changing circumstances. They continued to trade with Muscovy and Siberia even after the Tsars [imposed impediments]."
In conclusion, Asia continued to predominate in the world economy right through the eighteenth century until at least 1800. Within Asia, Inner and Central Asia also continued to play an important world economic and political role in the world historical process, which had for millennia already been subject to The Centrality of Central Asia (Frank 1992). Why else would the British and Russian Empires have engaged themselves in "The Great Game" of competition over Central Asia still even in the nineteenth century? Why still in the twentieth century did Lenin and Stalin devote so much attention to Central Asia? What renewed or continued "Great Game" will play itself out there over oil and other resources in the twenty-first century among Russians, Turks, Persians, Indians, Chinese and above all the [still] Central Asians themselves?
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