Papers on Modern History II

Markets
Tuesday
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room A

  • Jinping Ma, “The China Association of the Federation of British Industries”
  • Bryna Goodman, “The Fate of the Market: Stock Exchanges and Vernacular Economics in Early Republican Shanghai”
  • Ling-chieh Chen, “Crossing National Borders: The Crisis of International Postal Communication in Manchuria, 1931–1935”
  • James Fellows, “Cooperation, Competition, and Contingency: The Planning Stages of the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong, 1979–87”

Jinping Ma, “The China Association of the Federation of British Industries”

With the rising of the Chinese economy in international market and the processing of Brexit, Sino-British economic future has received unprecedented attention. The China Association, which existed for more than a century, has been playing key role in nongovernment trades and affecting Foreign Office policies facing China. Working closely alongside the London Chamber of Commerce, local Chambers, the Federation of British Industries and the Foreign Office, the Association took on the grievances of British traders in China and presented these to the British government and the Chinese authorities. Many scholarships combed British industrial policies toward China and the China Association. Yet, they focus mainly around and after 1949 on the Communist Party diplomatic policies. Although these are fundamental in deciding current commercial setup, closer examination on this bilateral relations increasingly calls for attention on social and cultural factors accompanied with trading activities to an earlier stage. This history was not disappeared from later trading. Rather, I argue that memories from this period continuously affected later policymaking.
This study will take a social and cultural perspective in examining the Sino-British trade history. By analysing minutes, committee papers, and corresponding files of the China Association from 1880s to 1961, this paper will present a vivid picture beyond political and institutional history. It will also demonstrate how foreign policies and individual commercial activities were inseparable with social processes and cultural elements. By exploring the history of this single association, this research probes into how nations, organizations, and individuals manipulated to achieve respective interests.

Bryna Goodman, “The Fate of the Market: Stock Exchanges and Vernacular Economics in Early Republican Shanghai”

When approximately 150 Chinese stock exchanges materialized on Shanghai streets in a speculative bubble in 1921 and 1922, the new financial institutions occasioned broad social reflections on new and older forms of economic knowledge. This paper probes newspaper and other print commentary, ranging across the diverse genres of modern economic knowledge, fiction, advertisement, and graphic illustration, to sketch multiple and diverse frameworks for vernacular economic thinking. The interplay of these materials in print culture facilitates examination of intercourse among contested notions of fate, prognostication, strategic or speculative agency, gambling, and models of economic rationality. The sudden emergence of this stock exchange-based financial bubble engendered the contemporaneous publication of a subgenre of stock exchange fiction. Stories about stock exchange, serialized in contemporary newspapers, literary journals, and banking journals, drew upon different strands of vernacular economic thinking, and serve as a fruitful source for this historical inquiry.

Ling-chieh Chen, “Crossing National Borders: The Crisis of International Postal Communication in Manchuria, 1931–1935”

This paper aims to explore how the Japanese invasion of Manchuria that began with the Mukden Incident, challenged the Chinese Postal Service (CPS) and China’s postal communication, and why it caused a crisis of the international postal transport. The Nationalist Government of China’s withdrawal of the Chinese Postal Service’s employees in Manchuria and a blockade of postal transport followed the Japanese Army’s invasion in September 1931 and the establishment of Manchukuo on 1 March 1932. The blockade led to a profound crisis of international postal services between Asia and Europe via Manchuria, which eventually became an international issue and aroused the concern of the League of Nations.
This paper first discusses Manchuria as a significant postal transport hub connecting Asia and Europe by transnational railways. Second, it analyses the Chinese Government’s decision of the blockade and its unexpected consequences for the international community. The third part focuses on the Nationalist Government’s compromise in 1935 and the meaning of a ‘national’ postal service during the early twentieth century.
I argue that the Chinese Government regarded the postal service as a useful means to arouse international attention to Japan’s invasion while maintaining international postal service was the priority for the international community. The Chinese Government’s compromise and the international intervention show that despite the feature of only one national postal authority in one country, providing efficient postal services and sharing the responsibility to maintain the international postal service even between hostile regimes were significant features of ‘modern’ postal communication.

James Fellows, “Cooperation, Competition, and Contingency: The Planning Stages of the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong, 1979–87”

The importance of China’s interactions with European powers before and during the post-1978 reform era is at the heart of a burgeoning literature. Hong Kong’s role and its economic integration with Guangdong province has also been widely analysed. Guangdong’s Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant—envisaged in the late 1970s and constructed between 1987 and 1994—provides an opportunity to bridge these two fields of inquiry. The plant, situated 50km from Hong Kong, was one of the earliest and largest joint venture projects initiated in China. Ownership is split between the Hong Kong-based CLP Holdings Limited (25 per cent) and the Guangdong Nuclear Investment Company (75 per cent), whilst French and British firms won contracts to supply the necessary technology.
This paper will disentangle the project’s significance for the multiple interested parties, which could be found in Hong Kong, Guangdong, London, Beijing and Paris. To Lawrence Kadoorie, chairman of Hong Kong’s China Light and Power, the power plant offered not only a solution to Hong Kong’s energy needs—70% of its power goes to Hong Kong—but also to the colony’s uncertain political future: he envisioned the project as a model for the cross-border co-operation and mutual interest upon which Hong Kong’s future prosperity and stability depended. The Hong Kong public, however, voiced considerable opposition following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. This case study, then, has significance for understanding political transition in Hong Kong, China’s opening and reform, and the politics and diplomacy of nuclear energy.

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Room A
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Markets