A critical survey of recent research in Chinese economic history
AbstractChina is a resilient dinosaur. In contrast with so many other great empires in Eurasia – the Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine, Arabian, Ottoman and Tsarist-Soviet – China has the longest history. The Empire kept expanding until the mid-nineteenth century when it practically reached the physical limits for a predominantly agrarian economy. The size and wealth of the Chinese economy, the variety of its produce and the degree of commercialisation and urbanisation made China one of the most popular international trading destinations from Roman times. With the rise of the opium trade in the early nineteenth century, however, the Chinese economy has been severely impoverished at least in relative terms. In response, since the 1870s, the Chinese sought to rescue their civilisation by adopting a wide range of foreign examples in social engineering for social experiments and reforms. Nevertheless, China's per capita GDP is still very low despite its political influence in the world since the 1970s. It is justifiable to view China as a case of growth failure in the recent centuries. The study of Chinese economic history has the same age as China's modern history itself. The field has been led and dominated by the West. Scholarly attempts have been made since the turn of this century to explain China's premodern success and its downfall after the Opium War. Two approaches can be identified: the 'Sinological approach' which refers to China only and the 'comparative method' which compares China with the West. The former tries to find out what achievements China managed to make and when and how it made them and the latter seeks to understand why premodern China was not industrialised.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science in its series Open Access publications from London School of Economics and Political Science with number http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/638/.
Date of creation: Feb 2000
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Publication status: Published in Economic history review (2000-02) v.53, p.1-28
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- Brandt, Loren & Ma, Debin & Rawski, Thomas G., 2012.
"From divergence to convergence: re-evaluating the history behind China’s economic boom,"
Economic History Working Papers
41660, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
- Brandt, Loren & Ma, Debin & Rawski, Thomas, 2013. "From Divergence to Convergence: Re-evaluating the History Behind China’s Economic Boom," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 116, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
- Loren Brandt & Debin Ma & Thomas G. Rawski, 2012. "From Divergence to Convergence: Re-evaluating the History Behind China's Economic Boom," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd11-217, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
- Cem Karayalcin, 2005. "Divided We Stand, United We Fall: The Hume-Weber-Jones Mechanism for the Rise of Europe," Working Papers 0509, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
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