A Coin for China? The Monetary Standards Debate at the End of the Qing Dynasty, 1900–1912

This article examines debates about monetary standards in the final years of the Qing dynasty. As silver depreciated on the world market, Qing statesmen discussed whether to adopt the gold-exchange standard or to stay on the silver standard. These debates took place on a conceptual and practical level: Should and could the Qing dynasty adopt the gold-exchange standard and what were the economic, political, and symbolic implications of doing so? The article contributes to the history of the late Qing dynasty by focusing on the monetary thought of figures more famous for their other roles: Zhang Zhidong, Liang Qichao, and Kang Youwei. It shows how the monetary standards debate had complex links to international finance, conceptions of sovereignty, central-provincial relations, and public finance. The article concludes by demonstrating how these debates continued in the next decades, becoming a central issue in modern Chinese history.