Abstract: Chinese Debates on Industrial Policy and the Influence of Japan, 1900-1940

Joyman Lee


This paper examines debates concerning Chinese industrial policy in the first four decades of the twentieth century. Although industrial policy is largely associated with state-led economic strategies in postwar Japan and the Tiger Economies, recent historical works have identified the importance to late nineteenth century Japan's success as an exporting power to Asia of a set of rural and bottom-up government institutions aimed at providing overseas market and technological information to traditional industries. As a result of China's defeat by Japan in 1894-95, Chinese policymakers and local elites paid acute attention to developments in Japan, and attempted to implement the program in Zhili province in North China. Despite the ''Japanese'' origins of these policies, their lack of explicit ideological or political character and the relevance of the program to labor-intensive activities meant that they continued to inform Chinese thinking in the interwar period, even in the absence of a strong Chinese state and the deterioration of Sino-Japanese relations after the mid-1910s.