Introduction
The Customs, China and the empire world
in Empire careers
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This chapter presents an overview of the history of the Chinese Customs Service and its relationship to foreign and Chinese power. Drawing on existing literature on the Customs Service and on the history of expatriate communities, this chapter discusses the Customs’s role in the development of imperialism in China. In doing so it explores the murky distinction between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ empire. In the course of this discussion it surveys the literature on imperial networks, colonial migration, the British world and globalisation. This chapter argues that historians should reposition China as an important node in the transnational webs of commerce, travel and communication that crisscrossed the empire world.

Empire careers

Working for the Chinese Customs Service, 1854–1949

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