Wan-li: Year 17, Month 4, Day 20
2 Jun 1589
The Fu-jian Grand Coordinator Zhou Cai advised: "The coastal residents of Zhang-zhou go to trade with the various fan. The major traders illicitly link up with the Japanese yi who spy on our coasts. The minor traders act as guides for the various fan who rob the trading ships. There are thus now two proposals: First, we should fix a limit for the number of ships which can trade. The original proposals in respect of the maritime prohibition was that 50 warrants be issued, and that for each country there be a limit of two or three ships. Now, it is impossible to act in accordance with the original prohibitions, but a limit to the number of ships should be stipulated. For example, the country of Luzon in the Eastern Ocean is quite close in terms of sea-distance. Now it is proposed allowing 16 ships to go to that country and to calculate the number for other countries on that basis. After this, the merchants will have to apply when they are building ships and state to which country they will be trading. The coastal defence officials will then examine the application, and if it is beyond the limit, the building of the ship will not be permitted. Second, the silver taxes levied should be reduced. The regulations relating to commercial duties provide for duty of two fen for every liang of the value of the goods. Also, the ships proceeding to the Western Ocean are taxed 6 liang of silver for each chi of the ship's beam, while the ships proceeding to the Eastern Ocean are taxed 4 liang 2 qian for each chi of beam. In this way, both the goods and the ships are taxed. Is this not harsh? The ship tax should be kept as before, but perhaps the taxes on goods should be adjusted up or down in accordance with current prices." The Ministry of War re-submitted the memorial noting: "There should be a limit of 44 ships permitted to trade to each of the Eastern and Western Oceans."
Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 105, page 3939