Trans-Regionalism and Economic Co-Dependency across the South China Sea

Lecture: Center for Chinese Studies | December 6 | 5-6:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Derek Thiam Soon Heng, Northern Arizona University

 Tang Center for Silk Road Studies

Throughout history, the South China Sea has been a maritime zone that saw primary economies of its littoral zones exercise influence over smaller, outlying economies by binding the latter into co-dependent relationships with the former. This may be witnessed in such areas as the currency systems adopted by the smaller economies, alignment of foreign and trade policies with those of the larger economies, and in the ways in which the trade of products from one economy to another was developed from being uni-directional and non-crucial, to being one where the economies became mutually dependent. This trans-regional economic phenomenon may be witnessed between China and the Malay Region during the tenth to fourteenth centuries. This paper seeks to explore the multi-facetted nature of the economic interaction between these two regional economies, and how a vertically integrated economic zone developed across the South China Sea over the course of the early second millennium AD between these two economic regions.

Derek Heng is Professor and Chair of History at Northern Arizona University. He specializes in the pre-modern trans-regional history of Maritime Southeast Asia and the South China Sea, utilising textual and archaeological data to study the interactions between Southeast Asia and China, and their impact on the state formation process in coastal Southeast Asia.