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Silver Mining at Potosi - 1500s-1700s

            America's colonization by Spain and the beginning of extensive silver mining in Japan impacted the worldwide supply and production of silver. This increase was a benefit to some, but caused widespread problems. The production of silver appeared to benefit Japan and Spain, as the main exporters, in addition to its main consumer, Ming China, problems were still evident worldwide. Based on the documents provided, the effects of increased silver production, while beneficial to "middle men" that organized the trade, came to weaken the countries that supplied and received silver in large amounts.
             In China, opinions on the silver trade were divided. Many people, such as He Qiaoyvan (Doc 7) believed the increased importation of silver into China was beneficial and aided China's domination of the Eastern world. Granted, the massive influx of silver to China was not innately a bad thing. Unfortunately, when the Ming Dynasty decreed that all taxes and trade fees had to be paid in silver the scarcity of silver came to hurt China's economy (Doc 5). Many people were unable to pay said amounts and were forced to go through moneylenders who supplied them with silver, but extorted them, leading to a devaluing of their produce (Doc 3). The problem Wang Xijue poses to the Ming Emperor in 1593 demonstrated that more silver had to be imported to China. While the only true reason for further importation of silver was due to previous decrees of the Ming dynasty, Xijue, being a court official, certainly sees China's declining economy as something to cause unrest and a possible rebellion, but may not realize the issues will only be exacerbated with more silver. In an act to save his position, he brings this issue to the Emperor, hoping to somehow end the troubles. In Document 5, Xu Dunqiu Ming reflects on the impediments silver has brought to the economy. Since prices may only be paid in silver, the economy is limited.

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