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Most researchers are making attempts to link the industrial transformation in China to the developments of the 19th and 20th centuries. The most critical question to ask about the growth of industries in China is the country’s growth with the relations it had with other countries like Japan, the Soviet Union, The United States, and the United Kingdom among other nations.
The history of the transformation of China in various fields can be traced from the early years of the 19th century. The transformation of industries in China cannot be explored without talking about the role that was played by a substantial number of countries. There is a substantial amount of historical data that points to the fact that the course of development in China was greatly shaped by the activities of foreign countries.
Among these countries are the Great Britain, the United States, Japan, and the former Soviet Union. In this paper, it is argued that the growth of industries in China in the 19th and 20th centuries was significantly influenced by both positive and negative relations between China and other countries.
This paper explores the transformation of industries in China between 1830 and 1990. This period denotes a cut across two centuries, the 19th century when there were a lot of political developments in China and the 20th century, when the political upheaval was patterned by the pursuance of economic reforms that later saw China’s industrial triumph at the global level.
The paper centres on the influence of foreign countries, in particular the political and economic influence of foreign countries in the growth of industry in China for the mentioned period.
Historical overview of China
The question that ought to be asked is how China has managed to attain the prevailing level of industrial growth and to what level other countries like Japan played a role in shaping industrial growth in China. As observed in the introduction, China is a country that has had a long history dating as early as the 16th century.
However, the current l level of industrial development in China can be traced from the 19th century. China had a lot of political issues in the 18th and 19th century, which impacted upon the development path of the country. The most critical thing to note is that China has had relations with different countries since the 17th century. Therefore, the interaction of these countries with China must have, in one way or another, impacted upon the industrial development in China.
One important element in the development history of China is the age of fragility that was experienced from the later years of the 18th century into the entire 19th century. The historical antecedents of the 20th century denote that China made contacts with a substantial number of countries, which shaped the political and economic developments in the country. It is important to note that the change in the political set-up of China in the mid of the 20th century is the main landmark in the industrial transformation of China.
According to Hays (para. 1), China attracted a number of foreigners in the ancient years, who later came to influence the pattern of industrial development. The ancient years denote the period between the 17th century and the 20th century. The contact between the Chinese and the British was not only based on colonial relations, but also on economic conducts with British companies. This also applies to other countries that began relating to China later.
The birth of the Chinese economy and industrial sector began with the penetration of Britain in China. The British staged its concession in one of the most commercially developed towns of Shanghai in the year 1842. This was followed by a French concession, which was set up in the year 1847.
Russians, Germans and the Japanese came in later, although they all came in before the end of the 19th century. By 1930, the population and industry in Shanghai had grown greatly, making it the largest trading town in Asia. This implies that the town had the capacity to attract a substantial number of foreigners from the Asian region and beyond, who were interested in trading activities (Hays para. 2-4).
The influence of foreigners on industrial growth in China
One of the main developments in China that has given China a global attention is the rate at which Industrial transformation has taken place in the country. As observed earlier, China, just like a number of the influential economies in the world, has not grown devoid of interactions and influence from other countries.
While a substantial number of historical texts seem to focus on the comparison between the path of industrial growth of China and other developed countries, there seems to be a minimal number of texts focusing on the nature of changes in China’s industry from the 18th century. However, there are a number of historians who have focused on the factors that have shaped the economic changes in China over time (Bickers 29).
According to Bickers (29), the contemporary developments in China are highly connected to the recent and the ancient patterns of relations between China and other countries, for instance Britain. The question that ought to be asked is to what extent foreigners impacted on the changes in the industry in China from the early years of the 19th century to the industrial orientation in the later years of the 20th century.
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One of the most critical parts in the explanation of the economic changes in China is its contact with Britain. During the later years of the 18th and the entire 19th century, China was marked by a lot of territorial wars. The main areas of interest in these wars are that they depict the nature of relations between China and other countries. Between 1854 and 1950, a substantial number of Britons settled in China (Parsons 3).
The Britons settled in Shanghai, which later became one of the earliest centres to urbanize. The royal navy was bestowed with the responsibility of guarding Shanghai during the 32 years of British colonial control over Shanghai. The presence of the British in the country encouraged the growth of trade activities in the country, and by effect transformed the minds of the Chinese population that had been highly involved in war.
The Anglo Chinese trade is argued to have played a significant role in shaping the trading environment in China, which in turn encouraged the growth of industry and development in China. Trade was accompanied with the setting up of business bases and industries (Bickers 30-31).
The other critical areas in the history of industrial change in China can be traced in the activities of the 1920s and 1930s. This period is marked by the search for a world order after the end of the Second World War. During this period China was still under Maoism. Under the philosophy of Maoism, China went through a period of economic standstill.
While the size of industrialization in China has expanded greatly, beating the size of industry and economic magnitude in Japan, it still remains evident that Japan developed earlier than China. This is justified by the activities of the 20th century. Japan is often termed as one of the main aggressor countries in the Second World War.
The most vital question to ask is why Japan was termed as the cause of the Second World War. An exploration of history denotes the conquest of China by Japan in the early 1930s. China was rich in natural resources, like iron ore other minerals, which are vital for industrial development. The most critical area to observe in the conquest is the impact of the conquest of Japan and the effect it had on the industrial change in China (LaFleur 84-85).
According to Wong (60), China had a number of traditional industries that had prevailed for a long period of time. However, it is important to note that the influence of Japan on industrial growth in China can be explored from two perspectives. These include: the issue of destabilization of the ancient industry through the conquest and the encouragement of transformation from the traditional industry to modern industry.
Irrespective of the approach that is taken, there is a resounding linkage between the industrial transformation in China and the relations between China and Japan. Most of the traditional industries in China were agricultural-based. Prior to the conquest of 1937 by Japan, traditional industries were vital elements of the economy of most of the Chinese provinces. However, after the conquest, a significant number of changes were put in place in China.
The realization of the country that more profitable and flexible industries could be developed in China became real. Modern craft industries were built out of the influence of the Japanese in the country. The conquest of China and the operations of the Japanese in the country necessitated a transformation from an agricultural market oriented economy to an agrarian commercial economy.
The commercialization feature was quite critical in the industrialization of the country. In spite of the defeat of the Japanese and the subversion of the conquest, the economy of China continued to commercialize, with the scale of the prevailing industries being broadened (Wong 67).
Apart from the involvement with China in the post-world war I period, Japan had also engaged with China in the late 1800s. The Japanese are said to have played a critical role in the development of Dalian. The Japanese took over the development of the town from the Russians.
This town was a major fishing centre in China that prevailed up to the later years of the 19th century. The Russians had begun by transforming Dalian to make it one of the deep-water ports in China (Weisl 5). By the 1920s, Shanghai, which was one of the largest industrial centres and towns in Asia, was already receiving a large number of foreigners besides the British who had settled in the region earlier.
The country received numbers of foreigners ranging into tens of thousands, who had fled away from the developments of the First World War. The European refugees were running away from the Nazism in Europe. The presence of such a population in Shanghai was a mark of the expansion of trade and industries arising from the commercial activities of each group of refugees who were residing in the town (Hays para. 20).
The main area of focus in the historical development of industry in China is the period of rapid industrial growth that was witnessed since the mid of the 20th century. Several questions are often posed about the approach of China to industrial growth and the level at which foreign nationals have played in China’s industrial change.
No one can doubt the observation that China is one of the countries whose industry transformed at a high speed in the last half of the twentieth century. However, a substantial number of people argue that the phase of the industrial revolution in China from the mid of the 20th century was largely based on the self-realization of the country and the subsequent implementation of effective policies by the Chinese government.
This observation is based on the fact that the policy of China during this period isolated the participation of foreigners in the local economy of China. This cancels out the issue of the influence of foreigners in the growth of the industry. Nonetheless, the foreign influence must be applauded for influencing industrial growth in China before the period of rapid industrialization (Nayar 19).
China is one of the countries in the world that has had a long history of political and economic development. The influence of foreigners in industrial change and growth in China can be traced from the movement of the British in China. While the influence of foreigners in the growth of industry in China is appreciated, the most critical part in the history of China’s industrial transformation drives away the direct participation of foreigners.
Bickers, Robert. “China’s Age of Fragility.” History Today 61.3(2011): 29-36. Print.
Hays, Jeffrey. Foreigners And Chinese In The 19th And 20th Centuries, 2008. Web.
LaFleur, Robert A. China: A Global Studies Handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2003. Print.
Nayar, Baldev. “The Geopolitics of China’s Economic Miracle.” China Report 40.1(2004): 19-47. Print.
Parsons, Timothy. The British Imperial Century: 1815-1914 : A World History Perspective. Lanham [u.a.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999. Print.
Weisl, Annabella. Cheng Xiaoqing (1893-1976) and His Detective Stories in Modern Shanghai. München: GRIN Verlag GmbH, 2010. Print.