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  • Forests as Commons in Early Modern China: An Analysis of Legal Cases

    Yoshiyuki Aihara

    Chapter from the book: Tanimoto M. & Wong R. 2019. Public Goods Provision in the Early Modern Economy: Comparative Perspectives from Japan, China, and Europe.


    In early modern China, forestry for timber production and sale was mostly in private hands. The government was rarely involved in it, except in northeastern areas during the Qing dynasty. However, examing the reports to the ministry of justice on forest-related legal cases, this chapter, by Yoshiyuki Aihara, clarifies that areas designated as “government mountains” contributed to non-market provision of forest resources, at least in the relatively mountainous areas of southern China. These areas could not be owned by individuals for profit. Instead, they served as “commons for the poor” and were often wasteland or grassland. These findings provide with another example of the role of emperor in providing public goods in China.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Aihara, Y. 2019. Forests as Commons in Early Modern China: An Analysis of Legal Cases. In: Tanimoto M. & Wong R, Public Goods Provision in the Early Modern Economy. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.63.o

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Jan. 15, 2019


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