… is from pages 199-200 of the 2015 Fourth Edition of Douglas Irwin’s important volume, Free Trade Under Fire:
The greatest example of a country turning its back on the world economy is China in the fourteenth century. The imperial court prohibited any foreign trade (without official permission) for about two centuries after 1371, even going so far as to forbid the construction of new seagoing ships in 1436. While these efforts did not completely eliminate trade, they severely curtailed it at a time when Chinese merchants were very active in the Indian Ocean and Africa. China’s action did not stop globalization. But China lost its technological leadership and fell very far behind the rest of the world in military and commercial strength. Eventually it fell prey to political domination by the West in the nineteenth century.