On 26 October 1629, Hung Taiji (皇太極, 1592-1643) launched an attack on the Ming Empire. Starting on the 1st of November, the imperial court declared that Bejing was under martial law, which lasted for two months. The hasty decision disrupted the arrangements of the Ministry of Revenue for military logistic supply. In the late Ming, most taxes-originally collected in kind-were converted into silver cash payments. At the outbreak of war, the government was short of both cash reserve and military logistic supplies. In response to this financial and logistic crisis, the Ministry of Revenue set up a flexible and mobile wartime contingent financial system. This contingent system involved all the military logistic depots personnel whose official ranks were raised to ensure effective coordination. Furthermore, military logistic management officials were assigned to every gate at the capital to manage the flow of supplies in and out of the capital city. The Ministry of Revenue decided to convert as much of the logistic supplies that they could into silver to minimize the consumption of defense expenditures while also supporting the army with carefully managed but limited supplies. By doing so, the Ministry of Revenue successfully accomplished it mission to mobilize sufficient material to support the war effort. Historian Ray Huang suggests that the Ministry of Revenue of the Ming Dynasty was merely an accounting unit. However, this case study tells a very different story of the performance of the ministry. The Ministry of Revenue in the late Ming was capable of mobilizing financial resources and military supplies effectively. This crisis, however, also exposed two institutional defects which contributed to the financial collapse of the Ming. Both of these defects reveal the poor coordination between the Ministry of Revenue and the Ministry of Defense. First, Military expenditures skyrocketed due to the increasing resource demands for strengthening defense. The Ministry of Revenue was not able to curb the military's binge spending. Secondly, the wartime expenses were too large to be paid by the regular inflow of revenue that the Ministry of Revenue could mobilize. These two factors contributed to new problems and eventually led to the financial collapse of the empire.
|Original language||Traditional Chinese|
|Number of pages||35|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|