Sunday, December 20, 2009

longevity of China’s agrarianism

The extraordinary longevity of China’s agrarianism might be explained in three terms: politically, no matter which dynasty or emperor was on stage, they all tried to control everything. “The landlords, state officials and scholars were bound together in a complex web of mutually reinforcing roles and self-interest (p.8).” Thus the power and abundant resources were upheld, instead of distributing to locals or the public; economically, traditional China followed a pattern of natural and self-sufficient economy, which feeds everything on its own but not encouraging exchange with the outside world; and culturally, the traditional Chinese thought of emphasizing on agriculture while deemphasizing on commerce was well recognized throughout each dynasty, first written into policy since Shang Yang Reforms in Qin dynasty.

The question says “it never makes a breakthrough into industrialization,” but I would argue Chinese industrialization was delayed, extended and just not as crisp as in other countries. Actually, in late Ming dynasty, the “sprouts of capitalism” emerged in southern coast area, which might be China’s first step to enter industrialization, yet doomed to fail due to the above reasons and the changing of dynasty. Then was the “self-strengthening” movement in the 1860s, when several local figures tried to introduce Western industry to Chinese people without much support from the emperor. Such attempt also happened in early 20th century and 20’s to 30’s, unfortunately none of them fully developed.

No comments: