During the late 17th century China and India were economic giants in manufacturing. This article by Philip S Golub has many interesting facts
Before 1800, trade flows between Chinese, Indians, Japanese, Siamese, Javanese and Arabs were much greater than those within Europe. The level of scientific and technical knowledge was high – more so in many fields than that of Europe. Joseph Needham, an authority on Chinese science and technology, emphasised that in terms of technology China was in a dominant position both before and after the European Renaissance (7). Its lead was apparent in fields such as iron and steel, mechanical clocks, engineering (suspension bridges), firearms and deep drilling equipment.
It is not surprising that Asia had a preponderant place in world manufacturing at the time. According to estimates by economic historian Paul Bairoch (8), in 1750 China