Both the population and agricultural production of the Dongting Lake region in Hunan and Hubei provinces developed rapidly from the late Ming period through the mid-Qing period. During this period, the interests of local dike builders in clearing more land increasingly came into conflict with the efforts of Qing officials to prevent floods by supervising dike repairs and preventing overbuilding of dikes. Although local landowners accepted state subsidies to restore damaged dikes in the early Qing period, their power to resist state authority over water control increased through the eighteenth century. By the early nineteenth century, official prohibitions on dike building were ignored, and a series of disastrous floods occurred.

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