South China Silk District: Local Historical Transformation and World-System Theory

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Intricate political patterns and relations of interest urge us to rethink the South China Sea Rimas a whole. He believed that a society, like a person, has its metabolic process, and an important function of the reproductive system is to help complete the process for social succession Fei, The term shehui jiti takes into account both inheritance and replacement Ma, , where ji inheritance refers to the continuity of social structure and ti replacement refers to the intergenerational replacement of social representations and subjects based on inheritance off undamental social structure.

This concept can also be used to explain the basic features of the social system of the South China Sea Rim. The reproduction of social networks from South China to Southeast Asia, in a certain sense, influences the historical process of regional human development. Seemingly, frequent population, commodity, information and cultural flows in the region continue to shape new social relations, and these new social networks constantly replace the old ones. In fact, it is the continued reproduction of social networks that sustain the cultural traditions and internal structure of the region.

Relying on the integration of social relations, people create and share cultural values and humanistic philosophies. The variety of networks shape the basic image of the common memory of subjects in a region by constructing the communities and relations. For Chinese settlers in Southeast Asia, kinship and geographical and business relevance played an important role in their local development, including dialect groups, geographic groups, and relatively stable migration networks like overseas clans.

The cultural ties, by way of languages and customs, give rise to networks of business, trade and employment in the modern production system. Relationship ethics, trade networks and practice policies, which are crucial to the survival and development of individuals and groups, also map out the understanding, memory and imagination of local Chinese and overseas Chinese. Memory is reflected in concepts inherited between generations, and especially in the cultural representations of social life. The regional social system of the South China Sea Rim results from the interactions among historical evolution, common memory, group interaction, and the formed local civilizations and social networks.

This region was the birthplace of diverse Asian marine civilizations and the channel for communication among Confucian, Buddhist, Islamic and Christian civilizations. From a global perspective, the Maritime Silk Road has witnessed, as a link, the migration of people, exchange of objects and propagation and response of institutional cultures, and shows the historical evolution of diverse civilizations and their representations in multiple networks. In specific terms, regional networks built on historical inheritances continue to reproduce and reshape the society by blending and remodeling ethnic groups, social organizations and cultural matters.

The inherited include recognized concepts and ideas and operating logics of inherent structure and social mechanisms behind traditional cultures.

"China and the World System since 1945" by Immanuel Wallerstein

The seemingly complex and diverse regional social networks have their self-contained development path. Through continuous social reproduction, traditional social networks eventually evolve into independent, healthy and orderly transnational networks beyond the state ideologies and regional boundaries discussed today. Furthermore, ethnic characteristics, including cultural customs, knowledge system, logic and traditional habits, are solidified in the interactive process of different groups and performed in the society in different spaces and times.

The inherited social networks have spatial fluidity and ductility. In other words, social networks of different types change with the space of activity of subjects, and extend and blend with each other according to family, geographical, ethnic and national identity.

Regional economic interdependence provides the prime power for persistent and complex population flows and cultural exchanges. The South China Sea Rim as a whole relies first on capital and commodity to achieve integration. By way of commodity flow, China has long established port trade relations with the Southeast Asian region. These cross-regional economic links realize the complement of natural resources and imply the operations of different culture and value systems.

Other exporters include Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. In this trade network, the largest and final consumer is China. The spice trade is also largely monopolized by Chinese businessmen. China is a major consumer of spices in Southeast Asia. Even today, more than half of all cloves and nutmeg in the Chinese market still come from Indonesia, despite global commodity diversification. Mountainous island residents, overseas Chinese in Indonesia and Chinese businessmen are involved in this transnational trading network from the country of origin to the country of consumption, which covers all economic operations, including production, sales, transportation and consumption.

Thus, the cross-cultural production mechanism plays a crucial role for the orderly and healthy development of regional spice trade network Tong, The plantation economy advocated by colonizers in Southeast Asia to some extent undermined the inherent economic ties within the region, but the introduction of new species, such as coffee, chocolate and rubber, enriched the diversity of regional commodities. A new transnational network has risen along the China-Laos border from rubber trade linked with geopolitical relations, and kinship and ethnic networks Ouyang, The modern global mobility of capital, commodity and labor has diversified the trade network within the region.

In an export-oriented economic model, business owners of different ethnic groups carry small Chinese commodities and electronic products to the Southeast Asian market and even further afield. The cross-border trade chains also reflect the complex flow and integration of culture, capital, population and organizations. As the subject of regional exchanges, people will inevitably stimulate, by means of movement and migration, the diffusion of cultural practices and social networks.

As an important bridge for social contacts and cultural exchanges, overseas Chinese groups build transnational social networks that link homelands to settlements, thereby forming a specific cultural ecosystem in China and Southeast Asia. Returning overseas Chinese have learned the local lifestyle and culture in Southeast Asia. In many cases, they failed to adapt to the native places because of the reality of conditions and they accepted the concentrated resettlement allocated by the government. According to Kyoko Nagura, even though the government and the surrounding community ensured the same status, returning overseas Chinese formed a plural-pattern complex community with clear internal boundaries Kyoko Nagura, Chinese and international studies on linkage between South China and Southeast Asia often startwith cross-border ethnic communities and overseas Chinese communitiesalong the southwest border with Southeast Asian countries.

For example. Producing and living in the South China Sea Rim, fishermen from different countries have jointly developed fishery resources in the region and built a sea-centered transnational network. Under the influence of contemporary nation-state borders, the productive activities of fishermen are restricted by national maritime rights.

However, cross-border mutual aid mechanisms and exchange networks have gradually formed in the civil society through age-old exchanges among fishermen of different nationalities. In a cooperative study with the author, postdoctoral scholar Wang Libing discussed the flows and cultural exchanges of fishermen in different countries surrounding the South China Sea.


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He believed that Tanmen fishermen have established an interactive network covering Vietnamese and Filipino fishermen mainly for seafood trade and exchange in Nansha Wang, Zheng Shengying focused on household livelihoods and community religions of overseas Chinese in Kukup Laut, a Malaysian fishing village and looked into the interactions between their native places and Southeast Asian coastal fishing ports Zheng, The study involves cultural exchanges behind the collaboration and sharing in regional marine production, as well as fishing and maritime rights. In terms of faith networks within the region, the spread of religion is necessarily associated with population flow and commodity trade.

For example, the ancestors of Muslims in Sanya migrated from the Champa Kingdom, Vietnam and some people moved from Hainan to Penang, Malaysia in the first half of the twentieth century.

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The cultural identity based on kinship, geo-location and religion strengthens the interaction and flow of the Muslim population between Hainan and Islamic countries in Southeast Asia Zhang, In modern times, with the advent of overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, the traditional Chinese religion, Taoism, and other and Chinese folk beliefs radiated to areas along the South China Sea Rim.

In eastern Indonesia, for example, Manado is the belief-based center of overseas Chinese in Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua regions. The religious organizations of the city provide religious knowledge, statues and scriptures for other areas in eastern Indonesia, and maintain frequent social interaction with Putian, of Fujian, through different forms of religious activities. According to the analysis of trade, faith, and transnational ethnic networks, regional social systems are not the simple sum of all kinds of social networks, but rather a reorganization with fast flow and continuous integration.

The study of regional social networks is to examine the time-catalyzed formation under the combined effect of social integration factors and structured activities in different geographical spaces.


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  6. Relying on these networks, China and Southeast Asian countries have built up mutual trust, cooperation and interdependence and allowed relevant parties to reach consensus in long-term exchanges, towards a relatively convergent value system. The shaping mechanism of social networks and the existing cultural and humanistic foundations inject a social impetus to the common development of the South China Sea Rim.

    In her opinion, endogenous development is the self-disciplined creation of ecological systems rooted in cultural heritage and adapted to different regions according to historical conditions, with reference to foreign knowledge, technologies and systems. Endogenous development, cultural heritage and tradition reproduction in the broadest sense are very important.

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    The so-called tradition mainly refers to structures or types inherited through generations in some areas or groups. It is apparent that endogenous development results from internal factors, not external factors. The theory of endogenous development has important methodological significance for social development in the South China Sea Rim. The in-depth analysis of the formation logic and structural characteristics of social systems in the South China Sea Rim region is especially suited to examining the people-to-people activities in the region, and, in other words, reflecting on the development issue of the regional subjects from the perspectives of social integration and cultural concept.

    The concept stresses the symbiosis of different civilizations in the process of globalization, and anthropologists are paying greater attention to the issues of center and periphery in the world system and the dialogue between the two. It is re-promoted today in China with the purpose of advancing the communication and exchange of different cultures, regions and societies.

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