The Shanghai Mint and Monetary Standards in Nationalist China, 1920-1933

Austin Dean

This paper uses the history of the Shanghai Mint as a lens to examine the financial history of China in the 1920s and early 1930s. In particular, it explores debates about monetary standards that took place in this period: whether China should adopt the gold-exchange standard as well as whether and how to eliminate the tael, a ghost unit of account. The Shanghai Mint was an important part of these debates. The paper argues that the story of the mint shows continuities in the goals of successive Chinese governments to exercise greater control over the monetary system and that carrying out these goals came at the expense of native banks, qianzhuang.