Page 113 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 products to Batavia in their junks, from where they found their way to the Republic. This situation began to change and the Heren Zeventien felt their trading position in Europe being undermined. The way in which the Company began to maintain its own link with Canton from 1720 has already been described. Up to 1795 a total of 187 Company ships sailed from Canton to the Republic. Between 1760 and 1780 the V O C developed its greatest activity in the China trade. The East India Company however always had an undisputed majority of ships in the Whampoa roads,19 but the VOC came a close second. In addition the junk trade with Batavia continued.
The Company regarded the China trade as a special case. From 1755 it even had a separate China committee. The direct two-way link was considered a regular service, with the same ships making the voyage out and back where possible. Nearly always new ships were employed, or the same ones used a second but at most a third time. For most of the China ships the run to Canton was their maiden voyage, after which they were destined for other routes. They were not only the Company's newest but also its largest vessels. The return voyages from China were often faster than those on the other routes: delays at the Cape were kept to a minimum. On the return voyage numbers on board were between 100 and 110 men.
Where ships and tonnage were concerned the VOC occupied a prominent place in the China trade, after the East India Company. Did this in fact mean that the VOC saw its tea, porcelain and silk shipped fast and safely? In 1728-1734 a round trip to Canton took nearly twenty months (598 days).2 0 After 1756, when on the voyage out a stop had to be made at Batavia, a round trip took on average 52 days more (650), nearly 22 months.
French ships generally made significantly faster round trips than the Dutch ones, at least three months quicker. Their travelling distance was of course slightly shorter. Due to exceptional circumstances a number of French ships stayed away from Lorient for a very long time, which causes a distortion in Dermigny's average for the whole of the French China trade.2 1 But the directors of the Danish and Swedish companies saw their tea arrive at the Copenhagen and Gothenburg warehouses so much faster! Danish Chinamen spent less than 550 days on the voyage, so on average their round trips were one hundred days or a good three months shorter. The same goes for the Swedish company. These calcula- tions are based on 97 and 85 voyages respectively between 1732 and 1792/1786. This vast difference in travelling times from those of the VOC did not fail to strike contemporaries in the Republic as well, occurring as it did throughout the period.2 2 What is the explanation?
The Danish and Swedish vessels followed the same route as the Dutch ones. On the outward voyage they sailed usually north of Scotland, while returning via the Channel. Via the 'outer passage' they made for Sunda Strait and alongside Borneo for the South China Sea. French ships too chose this route, unless they sailed from India through the Malacca Strait. So the route does not explain the difference in duration of voyage. For a long time the Scandinavians hardly made use of the Cape's victualling station. Neither did the French call there frequently. Not until the last decades of the eighteenth century
19 Dermigny, La Chine, 206. About the junk trade see Blussé, 'Chinese trade'.
20 Excluding the voyage numbers 2865/6897.
21 Dermigny, La Chine, 265 and vol. IV, 35. Of the 33 voyages in 1770-1790, 18 were completed
in less than 550 days; as compared to the VOC 4 out of 49.
22 G0bel, 'Voyages to China', 21-22; Koninckx, Swedish East India Company, 145 and 476. The
eleven ships of the Oostendse Compagnie made round trips of on average 575 days (Degryse, 'De maritieme organisatie', 37-38); De Hullu, 'Over den Chinaschen handel', 140.

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