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  • Chinese: 市舶司 (shìbósī)

Shìbósī were Maritime Trade Superintendents' Offices established by the Song Dynasty in the port cities of Quanzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Ningbo. They oversaw the licensing of overseas trade, including the tally trade.

The first shìbósī was established at Guangzhou in the late tenth century, followed by additional ones in Ningbo and Hangzhou. Chinese merchants seeking official licenses for engaging in legal trade overseas were obliged to obtain such licenses from the shìbósī. The shìbósī were supported by local taxes, and oversaw the formal registration of cargoes, ships, and sailors & traders.

The Office in Quanzhou was first established in 1087, as that port came to eclipse Guangzhou for a time. This office was closed and relocated to Fuzhou in 1470.

The shìbósī in Ningbo and Fuzhou were closed in 1523 after the Ningbo Incident (in which rival samurai clans engaged in a violent skirmish in the port of Ningbo), leaving that at Guangzhou the only official office through which trade could be legally licensed and authorized.


  • Schottenhammer, Angela. "The East Asian maritime world, 1400-1800: Its fabrics of power and dynamics of exchanges - China and her neighbors." in Schottenhammer (ed.) The East Asian maritime world, 1400-1800: Its fabrics of power and dynamics of exchanges. Harrassowitz Verlag, 2007, 1-83, esp. 14, 22.
  • Richard von Glahn, "The Ningbo-Hakata Merchant Network and the Reorientation of East Asian Maritime Trade, 1150-1350," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 74:2 (2014), 263.