The Origin of Likin, 1853-1864

The Origin of Likin, 1853-1864

The Origin of Likin, 1853-1864

The Origin of Likin, 1853-1864


On November 3, 1925, at a meeting of the Tariff Autonomy Committee of the Special Conference on Chinese Customs, in Peking, Dr. C. T. Wang made the following statement:

There is no greater detriment to the economic development of China than the likin system, since it constitutes a great obstacle to the wide distribution of goods and the expansion of commerce, and results in diminishing the productive power of the country and improverishing the people.

It seems that the history of the likin tax can be conveniently divided into three periods. The first period would extend from the year of its introduction (1853) to the year in which, after the recovery of Nanking, the decision was made to continue the collection (1864). The second period would extend from 1864 to the collapse of the Manchu Dynasty in 1911-12. The third period would extend from the founding of the Republic to the date on which the collection of likin was formally abolished -- January 1, 1931. The present work is limited to the first of these periods.

I regret that it has not been possible for me to revise, expand, and develop this study after submitting it as a dissertation in 1948. It is now published without major change, but with certain editorial revisions, for which I am indebted to Mrs. Elizabeth M. Matheson.

Edwin G. Beal, Jr.

July 1958 . . .

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