Edited by Ingo Barens, Volker Caspari and Bertram Schefold
Chapter 9: The Kingdom of Ponthiamas - A Physiocratic Model State in Indochina: A Note on the International Exchange of Economic Thought and of Concepts for Economic Reforms in the 18th Century
9. The kingdom of Ponthiamas – a physiocratic model state in Indochina: a note on the international exchange of economic thought and of concepts for economic reforms in the 18th century Rainer Klump INTRODUCTION Pierre Poivre (1719–86), a French agronomist, missionary and diplomat, can certainly be considered as a ‘minor classic’ of the French enlightenment in the middle of the 18th century. His book Voyages d’un philosophe (Travels of a Philosopher) published in 1768 (Poivre, 1768) and based on his personal experience in South, Southeast and East Asia contains, however, an episode which reveals a very interesting international exchange of economic thought and of concepts for economic reform in the ﬁrst half of the 18th century. It is the tale of the kingdom of Ponthiamas, now known as the port of Ha Tien in the very south of Vietnam. In France, Poivre had learnt the ideas of physiocracy and had become an convinced disciple of François Quesnay. One of the main but almost forgotten roots of the physiocratic movement can be found in Chinese political and economic philosophy which had become popular in France via a steady stream of publications by missionaries and travellers. Given the usual time-lag, these were certainly the ideas of the late Ming and early Quing (or Mandschu) period which characterized European knowledge about China at the beginning of the 18th century. When the Ming dynasty was replaced by the Mandschu in the middle of the 17th century, representatives of the old system spread all...
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