The Western powers that traded with the Qing empire under the "Canton system," for example, did not send tribute to the Qing imperial throne (with rare and contested exceptions) and their interactions with the Qing were not managed by the Board of Rites (traditionally assumed to manage all tributary relations) but by the cohong
merchants in Canton itself.
Chiefly managed by the Cohong
, or Chinese merchants deputized by the Qing court, Canton was relatively open to competition among its multiple foreign factors.
Moreover, profits were hit by the graft and corruption built into a system dominated by a guild of Chinese merchants known as the Hong or Cohong
and the Collector of Customs himself, the all-powerful Hoppo, one of whom owned the palace that provided the Coutts Bank wallpaper.