Abstract: The Sino-Japanese War and the Rise of China's Regional Enterprise Corporations: A Case Study of the Guizhou Enterprise Corporation, 1939-1949

Morris L. Bian


This paper analyzes the characteristics of the Guizhou Enterprise Corporation—China's first regional enterprise corporation established during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). The paper describes how the sustained systemic crisis triggered by the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War led to the establishment of the Guizhou Enterprise Corporation. The paper presents the argument that, as a regional enterprise corporation, the Guizhou Enterprise Corporation constitutes a distinct type of business enterprise because the corporation differed from both private business enterprises and state-owned enterprises in that the it derived its investment capital primarily from the central and provincial governments and state-run financial institutions, and yet it adopted the governance structure of the modern corporation with such features as board of directors, shareholder meetings, and internal auditing. As a result, the Guizhou Enterprise Corporation was not subject to direct administrative control and interference as were state-owned enterprises under the jurisdiction of central government ministries and agencies. It can be argued that a regional enterprise system had taken shape by the end of the Sino-Japanese War, for similar regional enterprise corporations developed in at least fifteen provinces with subordinate enterprises engaging in productive activities in virtually every sector of the Chinese economy.