What were the most important historical and geographical processes that shaped conditions in your country in the late 1940s?
China experienced colonialism after the British Navy won the first Opium War in 1942. By 1860, colonialism had strengthened in China at the end of the second opium war. Various activities in colonial era integrated China into the world economy. The activities include increased pressure to embrace foreign trade. Introduction of modern industrialization that made China produce goods more efficiently created foreign market demand. To end the internal rebellion China was experiencing, some Chinese supporting adoption of western ideas. Relations with foreign nations opened China into foreign trade. The integration process reshaped China in various ways. China changed landownership, invested in agriculture to ensure that all farmers make a living out of it, promoted foreign trade, promoted industrialization associated with urban development, and led to political stability in the country in 1949. Introduction to foreign trade, modern industrialization, Chinese support of western ideas, and relations with foreign nations made China to grow economically and to experience political stability in the late 1940s.
Colonialism era integrated China into foreign trade. The demand for agricultural products was higher during the colonial era. At first the government opposed the idea of a foreign trade. However, the imperial powers forced it to open up ports in China to foreign trade. Over a period of time, the rate of treaty ports increased promoting foreign trade. By 1840, only one port was used for international trade. This angered western countries that wished to import more products from china. After China was defeated in the Opium war between 1840 and 1842, it was forced to open the economy to foreign trade through treaty ports. The Chinese Maritime Customs service introduced new customs procedures and transparent rules that influenced the central government into supporting foreign trade through the broader political influence in the country (Pepper 23). Through the organization, western countries were able to expand the commercial exchange with China. The CNC examined cargo, prevented smuggling, and assessed treaty tariffs on imports, exports, and costal trade. This attracted foreign countries to trade with China hence the economic global integration. During the treaty of Nanjing in 1842, five ports were opened in China to foreign trade. After the defeat in the second Opium was, more ports were opened to foreign trade. At the end of the Century, more other Chinese ports were open to foreign trade. CMC organization was focussed on important ports in relation to foreign trade (Keller et al. 34). This allowed China to import and export goods with foreign countries like Japan, Great Britain, USA, British India, and Russia, among others.
Modernized industrialization improved China’s production of goods and services. During the colonial era, there was an introduction of industrialization based on modern machinery. By 1913, 700 modern types of machinery and mining enterprises were established in the country. The Qing government opposed modern industrialization until 1895. As a result, new industries were established that were based on modern machinery that competed with the traditional handicraft industry. The foreign owned industries attracted foreign investment especially those in treaty port cities. Other non-manufacturing sectors such as modern shipbuilding, modern mining, railway, and advanced technology received foreign investment. In addition, import-export business was also controlled by foreign capital. The support from foreign countries influenced the Chinese central government to be open to foreign trade. The new industries operating with modern machines led to the production of more products. Industrialization improved China technologically, enabling the country to manufacture a variety of products needed across the globe (Lardy 67). The railway, modern ship buildings, also made it easy to travel or to transport the goods across countries promoting Chinese economic global integration.
Some Chinese supported adoption of western ideas to in response to the internal rebellion. After western countries invaded China, various catastrophes hit the nation. Man-made disasters such as floods due to over-reclamation of mountain slopes, lowlands, and wetlands hit the country. Natural disasters such as drought and famine were also a challenge. The huge presence of western countries made China be unable to cater for the hue population. This lead to various internal rebellions (Shakil 6). In response to the imperialism, a section of the Chinese rejected cultural superiority, and supported the idea of adopting western ideas with a purpose of preserving the principle of Chinese civilization. This influenced majority of Chinese into supporting global integration.
Foreign relations opened China to foreign trade. The foreign relations of China made it difficult for the Qing dynasty to control the internal rebellions. Various nations including Japan, Germany, France, Russia, and Britain, claimed influence over China (Keller 45). These countries looked for major development areas such as railways, naval ports, and mines. These relations imported various resources from other countries into China for their operations. They also exported their products in China to other countries integrating China in the world economy.
The following section discusses how the integration processes shaped China’s political and economic structures. China made changes in landownership to improve living standards of all Chinese citizens. China government took over the ownership of land that was previously in private hands. Mao’s intention was to modernize China by eliminating peasant society through industrialization and urbanization (Meisner 89). Agriculture was therefore changed to achieve the goals. Land reform led to changing agriculture. Through a national program, land reforms were carried out where titles of 45% of the arable land were taken from landlords and other farmers and redistributed to other farm families that owned small pieces of land or no land at all. After successful land reform in a particular region, farmers were to form teams that would enable them to cooperate in production. The land reform aimed at promoting efficiency and equity.
China ensured that farmers make a living out of agriculture. Various organizational changes took part in relation to agriculture. The government mobilized farmers to form socialized and large collective units for facilitation of agricultural resources mobilization, enhance farming efficiency, and to improve government’s access to the agricultural products (Purcell 77). Farmers were to move from small mutual aids teams, to cooperatives of agricultural producers, and finally to advanced cooperatives. In each level, farmers were receiving a certain amount of money. Additionally, every family retained a small plot for growing fruits, vegetables, and keeping livestock. The program started slowly but accelerated in 1955. As a result agricultural output increased.
China used trade is used as a tool for economic modernization. Trade has continued to be an important part of China’s economy. The direction of foreign trade was reshaped by Imperialism. The export base became diversified (Di Giovanni et al. 26). The heavy reliance on textile products lowered with the introduction of light manufacturing. Apart from earning from products such as toys, clothing, footwear, manufactured goods, transport, and machinery, China is gaining from other products such as travel goods, sound and telecommunication equipment, office machines, electrical machinery, data processing equipment that are automated, industrial suppliers, and furniture (Barlow 351). Statistics indicate that there is an increased diversification of exports in China.
China established new industrial sectors such as an automobile, mining machinery, aircraft manufacturing, tractor, metallurgical equipment, heavy and precision machinery, and power generating equipment. Other new industries that were established are petrochemical and electronics engineering. The industrial layout was greatly enhanced (Marx and Friedrich 33). There was prioritization of development of industrial sector. The strategy aimed at catching up with developed countries. The country channelled more money into the industrial sector. Small industries were also established in rural areas which led to the production of farm machinery, electric power, chemical fertilizers, and cement plants. As a result, China experienced greater success in communication, railway, airport, power industry, and port.
The introduction of the system of household registration restricted the number of people living rural areas for cities. This reduced cities’ population. As part of Cultural Revolution, many graduates from high school were relocated to rural areas reducing the population in cities. Specialists such as teachers, engineers, and doctors were moved to rural areas. Various factories in the urban were also moved to the rural area. The rural industrialization in China led to urbanization in the country between 1966 and 1976.
Before the revolution in 1911 ended the Qing dynasty, China experienced prosperity and industrial expansion. The industrialization was centred in Shanghai in the 1920s. The aim of the Nationalist Party was to give China back its freedom from western countries. The attempt enabled China to regain tariff sovereignty from 1929 to 1934. However, under the regime of the Nationalist party, China’s internal politics were characterized by labour strikes, unfavourable treatment of private industries, the emergence of the Communist Party of China and war with Japan. Japan’s defeat in World War II ended its invasion ain China. Internally, the Chinese Communist Party overpowered the Nationalists in 1949.
The presence of western countries in China destabilized the country politically. The government could not control internal rebellion fuelled by the western countries. This lead to the rise of Mao era which started from when the People’s Republic was announced in 1949 to 1978. Mao Zedong, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party announced the establishment of the new party. The announcement of the People’s Republic of China ended the internal civil war between the Nationalist Party and the Chinese Communist Party (Westad 113; Foner 175). The new party also marked the end of the long process of leadership mayhem in the country which ad began in 1911 through Chinese Revolution. Since then, China experienced a notable growth in the national economy, improved living standard, and advance in science and technology (Tsu and Benjamin 78). The new government was recognized by many foreign governments where some formed diplomatic ties with the country including Sweden, Japan, United States, among others. The relations were aimed at improving its economic status. The re-establishment of relationships with foreign countries prompted a period of economic growth through foreign trade. More parts of China were permitted to direct export to foreign nations.
It is clear that introduction to foreign trade, modern industrialization, Chinese support of western ideas, and relations with foreign nations that happened during the imperialism period shaped various situations in China including land reforms, support of foreign trade, huge investment on agriculture and industrialization, and political stability in the late 1940s. Increased pressure to embrace foreign trade, the introduction of modern industrialization, Chinese support for foreign ideas, and international relations integrated China to the world economy. The integration process reshaped China through land reforms, supporting agriculture and industrialization, promoting foreign trade, and the establishment of a stable political party.
Barlow, Tani E. “Colonialism’s Career in Postwar China Studies.” Formations of Colonial Modernity in East Asia, 1 Feb. 1993, pp. 373–411.
Di Giovanni, Julian, Levchenko, Andrei and Zhang, Jing , “The Global Welfare Impact of China: Trade Integration and Technological Change.” . Working paper, 2011.
Foner, Eric. Free soil, free labor, free men: the ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War. Oxford University Press, 1995.
Keller, Wolfgang, and Shiue, Carol. “Market Integration and Long-run Development: A Long-Run Comparison”, Review of Development Economics, 2007, pp.1-53
Keller, Wolfgang, Li, Ben, Shiue, Carol. Shanghai’s Trade, China’s Growth: Continuity, Recovery, and Change since the Opium War, 2013, pp.1-70.
Lardy, Nicholas. Integrating China into the Global Economy, Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. 2002.
Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. On colonialism: articles from the New York tribune and other writings. International Publishers, 1972.
Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, Third ed., The Free Press, 1977.
Pepper, Suzanne. Civil war in China: the political struggle, 1945-1949. Rowman Littlefield, 1999.
Purcell, Victor. The rise of modern China. Historical Association, 1962.
Shakil, Mohammad. The Impact of Colonialism on 19th and Early 20th Century China. Cambridge Journal of China Studies, 11 (2), pp.1-10.
Tsu, Jing, and Benjamin A. Ellman. Science and technology in modern China, 1880s-1940s. Brill, 2014.
Westad, Odd Arne. Decisive encounters: the Chinese civil war, 1946-1950. Stanford University Press, 2004.