. . . Chinese records do not show anything unusual before 1331, when an epidemic in the province of Hopei [Hubei] is said to have killed nine tenths of the population. Not until 1353-54 do available records indicate a more widespread disaster. In those years epidemic disease raged in eight different and widely scattered parts of China, and chroniclers reported that up to “two thirds of the population” died. . . .
Plague coincided with civil war as a native [Han] Chinese reaction against the Mongol domination gathered headway, climaxing in the overthrow of the alien rulers and the establishment of a new Ming Dynasty in 1368. The combination of war and pestilence wreaked havoc on China’s population. The best estimates show a decrease from 123 million about 1200 (before the Mongol invasions began) to a mere 65 million in 1393, a generation after the final expulsion of the Mongols from China. . . . Disease assuredly played a big part in cutting Chinese numbers in half; and bubonic plague . . . is by all odds the most likely candidate for such a role.
—Wm. H. McNeill, Plagues and Peoples (1976), pp. 174 – 175