chapter  5
20 Pages

The evolution of the qiaopi trade

A case study of the Tianyi firm
ByJunying Jia

The development of the qiaopi trade represented an evolution from a traditional form of trust to a modern one, embedded in Chinese regional culture and immigration networks. The emergence, development, and termination of the Tianyi remittance company (1880–1929) can be seen in many ways as representative of the qiaopi trade in China and Southeast Asia as a whole, despite its relatively big size and longevity. Tianyi was established on the basis of traditional trust, which was mainly concerned with individuals and personalized relations. Systemic trust, organizational trust, and government supervision in the commercial field gradually emerged later, to prop up the wider business that resulted from the expansion of the qiaopi network. The qiaopi trade, both traditional and modern, cannot be wholly separated from the evolution of trust and thus of credit. Rather, each worked in tandem, both in normal times and in times of crisis, on the basis of pre-modern culture and regional characteristics.