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The Eastern World during the Modern Era: The Columbian Exchange and its Effects on the Eastern


The Columbian exchange introduced mercantilism, formed a larger world economy, stimulated maritime transportation, cultivated globalization; spreading ideas such as Christianity, catalyzing technological development, and creating more sophisticated empires. Consequently, Columbian exchange redefines existing political, commercial and social attitudes in the globalizing Eastern world. Introducing two new continents into the world economy, the location of states and their strategic economic, military, and cultural values redefine politics of the Eastern world. For example, the growth of the Ottoman Empire throughout the Arabian Peninsula -rich in trade influx from both Eastern and Western sides- is attributed to the increase in traffic in the Mediterranean, channeling an uninterrupted flow of men, merchandise and beasts of burden (Braudel, 1982). In response to the newly acquired wealth, the Ottomans built a powerful navy, expanded the empires territory and created trading posts along the busy Mediterranean (Braudel, 1982). The Ottoman Empire realized commercial, strategic, political, and religious importance of territories such as the Red Sea, a holy place for Muslims and essential route for the ships carrying pepper and spices to Cairo, Alexandria and the Mediterranean (Braudel, 1982). Resulting from the mentioned traits of the Ottoman Empire and their highly competent central authority; their relations with Europe and the East reinforced the Ottoman economy by controlling foreign merchants presence in Ottoman routes and maintaining control of exports of goods to the West in the absence of European middlemen. Another example, the nearby Mogul Empire, Braudel (1982) said The administration used Hindustani, but its organization was based on an Islamic model. The Moguls acclimatize India; creating harmony between Muslims and Hindus, stimulating agricultural development by creating

irrigation systems and encouraging cash crop growth for export (Braudel, 1982). State subsidies and propaganda from time to time facilitate the accommodation to the recompiled global economic landscape. As trading activities transform in response to the Columbian exchange, advantageous Europeans now smashed their way into the ancient spice trade of the Indian Ocean developing new relationships as a result (Strayer, 2011, p.673). Bringing commodities such as silver, gold, potatoes, tomatoes, cacao, American furs, and luxury goods -some of novelty to the Old World; the Europeans return to their homeland with Arabian pioneered sugar (Strayer, 2011) which they later dominated in their sugar colonies along with silk and highly sought after Japanese and Chinese crafts. The rise of maritime trade associated with the Columbian exchange diminished land based commerce in Eurasia and created imbalances in Chinese merchants, accessing sea routes; and the indebted Mongolian nobles, lacking sea route access.(Strayer,2011) As highly productive crops are introduced to Eastern states, they experience a growth in carrying capacity and an increase in labor supply; this agricultural feat initiated conquests such as the Qing dynasties takeover of central Eurasia a defensive necessity (Levenson, 1991). However, Influx of precious metals was vital to the movements of the most active sector of the Indian, and no doubt the Chinese economy (Braudel, 1982, p. 492); this demand was met by the maritime dominating Portuguese and Japanese Tokugawa shogunate, initiating Japans participation in foreign trade exporting silver, diamonds, copper, and high quality Japanese crafts. The Tokugawa shogunates monetary policy manipulated silver prices by maintaining a grip on supply and the exports to nearby states, as to not flood the market with currency producing silver through the use of Red seal ships.

Prohibiting trade of Chinese currency in Japan, preventing circulation of surplus silver currencies in nearby silver dependent areas, and inhibiting merchants from transporting silver into foreign lands profitably through export subsidies; the Japanese efficiently use silver supply to replenish domestic deficiency in iron, war materials, and high-quality Chinese raw silk through trading with neutral Southeast Asian, Portuguese, and Dutch middlemen who then traded with China- coins and bars can be traded there more profitably than anywhere else.(Mann, 2011, p. 27) The Columbian exchange had monumental effects in the globalizing economies of Eastern Asia; diminishing pastoral nomadism, stimulating Ming China into trade, introducing European empires to the Asian maritime trade, inducing new patterns of commodity exchange and morphing labor practices in the name of mercantilism and bullionism. As patterns of trade and transportation change, exposure to foreign ideas and behaviors induces cosmopolitan world cities in the globalized Eastern world. The influences of the latter economic changes push social reform to increase domestic profits to a competitive level in the world economy. For the Muslim despotism of the Moguls contained a measure of enlightened despotism, a desire not to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs, a desire to encourage peasant reproduction, to extend cultivation, to substitute a profitable crop for a less profitable one, to colonize virgin land, and to increase the possibilities of irrigation by wells and reservoirs.(Braudel, 1982, p. 500); the Mogul empire is a prime example of the globalizing effect on social systems where manufactured goods and peasant-grown cash crops were sold throughout the world. Influenced by the cosmopolitan Turkish precedents; The overall style of the Mughal Empire was that of a blended elite culture in which both Hindus adhering to the caste

system- and various Muslim groups could feel comfortable (Strayer, 2011, p 646), until intolerable demands for taxes to support expansion aggravated Hindus and prompted opposition. Stating Every province of your empire is impoverished. God is the God of all mankind, not the God of Mussalmans alone (Strayer, 2011, p. 646) the seemingly equal Mogul society is denounced by the underclass of Hindus and the fundamental rationale for Muslim harmony with co-inhabitants was for dominating socioeconomic matters while falsifying equality in the Muslim dominant Mogul empire leading to a fragile empire taken over by the British. The accumulation of wealth in a fraction of the population participating in the Columbian global- exchange created great disparity among classes. The Columbian exchange caused a strong ripple of change evident in the opposite side of the world; creating a world economy and further globalizing nations involved. Innovation, reformation, and continuation of political, social, and economic variables in Eastern nations are realized by the fluctuation of similar Western variables, resulting from the Columbian exchange and the massive discovery of the New World. Further analyzing the European perspective on Eastern trade would enrich the topic; both previously part of the central Silk Road trade system and then greatly affected by the Columbian exchange.