This revelatory account of the ways silver shaped Chinese history shows how an obsession with “white metal” held China back from financial modernization. First used as currency during the Song dynasty in around 900 CE, silver gradually became central to China’s economic framework and was officially monetized in the middle of the Ming dynasty during the sixteenth century. However, due to the early adoption of paper money in China, silver was not formed into coins but became a cumbersome “weighing currency,” for which ingots had to be constantly examined for weight and purity—an unwieldy practice that lasted for centuries. While China’s interest in silver spurred new avenues of trade and helped increase the country’s global economic footprint, Jin Xu argues that, in the long run, silver played a key role in the struggles and entanglements that led to the decline of the Chinese empire.
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About Nancy Wu
Nancy Wu has narrated audiobooks since 2004, winning three AudioFile Earphones Awards. A New York theater, television, and film actor, she has recorded in studios all over the world—from Italy to Switzerland to Thailand. Her credits include Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Hope & Faith, All My Children, Made for Each Other, and the Oscar-nominated film Frozen River.