Competition over grain supplies produced conflict when the people controlling large stores of grain failed to sell or lend grain at prices and in quantities demanded by the people needing grain. These conflicts, known generally as food riots, took place within a general political economy of grain circulation that spanned a wide variety of local situations. A brief sketch of different types of grain circulation and forms of food rioting establishes the setting for case studies that show the range of possible food riot situations and official reactions to the problems posed by food riots. Materials from the case studies are then drawn on to address the general questions of why rioters acted as they did, why their actions became a common type of conflict in the Qing dynasty, and why food riots persisted through periods of political strength and weakness.

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