The genesis of this book demands a brief explanation. The profound changes brought about, or revealed, by the Second World War in the economic position of Western countries and their nationals in the Far East suggested to us, some five years ago, that the time was appropriate for a review of the part that had been played by Western enterprise in the economic development of that region. On the inception of this study, it was obvious that the scope of our research must be restricted, and we therefore decided to confine our attention, in this phase of our work, to four countries, viz. China, Japan, Malaya and Indonesia. This choice was determined largely by a wish to examine the course of Western enterprise in a number of mutually contrasting environments, for in this way we hoped that the diversity of methods and policies pursued by Western firms in 'undeveloped' regions might be brought to light. The present volume, which is concerned with China and Japan, contains the first results of our study.
Our aim has been to describe the beginnings of Western enterprise in the two countries, the local circumstances which determined the character and forms of that enterprise at various times, the relations of Western undertakings with the native economies at different stages in their growth, and finally the effect of the Western impact upon the industrial and commercial life of the countries considered. The review covers the period from about the middle of the last century, when China and Japan were 'opened' to foreign trade, to the present time. We originally intended to end our study with a discussion of the place that Western enterprise might be expected to occupy in these countries during the post-war period; but political events in the Far East since 1949 have suggested the wisdom of deferring this task. Inter arma, speculation about long-term economic trends and relationships does well to be silent. The greater part of the book deals with China; but a dominant theme is the contrast presented by China and Japan in their response to the Western intrusion, and, especially in the rôle assigned to Western business enterprise in the two economies. In the final chapter these contrasts are brought into relief. Malaya and Indonesia will be the subject of a subsequent volume upon which we are now engaged.
We consider it important to emphasise the limitations of our purpose. We have not tried to write either an economic history of China and Japan or a comprehensive account of Western contacts with these two countries. Our concern has been with a particular aspect of economic development, and our interpretations and criticisms have validity only within a narrow chamber of reference. Thus we have not sought to pass moral judgments either on the activities of the Westerners or on the policies of the Chinese and Japanese Governments, although at times we . . .