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    By: Hans Van de Ven

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    From 1854 to 1952, the Chinese Maritime Customs Service delivered one-third to one-half of all revenue available to China's central authorities. Much more than a tax collector, the institution managed China's harbors and surveyed the Chinese coast. It oversaw a college training Chinese diplomats; translated legal, philosophical, economic, and scientific documents; organized contributions to international exhibitions; and pioneered China's modern postal system. After the 1911 Revolution, the agency began managing China's international loans and domestic bond issues, and in the 1930s, it created a coast guard to combat smuggling. The Customs Service was central to China's post-Taiping entrance into the world of modern nation-states and twentieth-century trade and finance, and this is the first comprehensive history of the Customs Service's activities and truly cosmopolitan nature. At times, the Service kept China together when little else did.

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