Chinese Capitalists in Japan's New Order: The Occupied Lower Yangzi, 1937-1945

By Sheehan, Brett | The China Journal, January 2005 | Go to article overview

Chinese Capitalists in Japan's New Order: The Occupied Lower Yangzi, 1937-1945


Sheehan, Brett, The China Journal


Chinese Capitalists in Japan's New Order: The Occupied Lower Yangzi, 1937-1945, by Parks M. Coble. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. xvii + 296 pp. US$60.00/£40.00 (hardcover).

In this carefully researched and important book, Parks Coble uses case studies of Chinese business firms during the Second World War to offer new insights into both the war and the nature of China's business culture. Focusing on the area of the lower Yangzi River valley in and around the city of Shanghai, Coble divides the changes in Japanese policy toward Chinese business into three periods. From the initial invasion in July of 1937 to late 1938 came a period of destruction, chaos, confiscation and forced procurement. In November of 1938 the Japanese declared the establishment of a "new order" in which there was a concerted attempt to reinvigorate the Chinese economy in order to "use the war to sustain the war". This period lasted through 1942, the first year after Pearl Harbor. The Japanese encouraged the participation of Chinese capitalists in this new order, but it remained a "colonial regime" (p. 66) in which Japanese firms were given more favorable treatment and the Chinese were given few real incentives. True Sino-Japanese cooperation did not come until the third period, from late 1942 (the "Great Departure") to 1945, when the Japanese faced reversals in the war and had to offer Chinese capitalists better terms for collaboration.

After providing a general history of the role of Chinese business in the war period, Coble presents his series of case studies. The Rong family and their textile empire take up an entire chapter. Other case studies are treated more briefly: textiles and consumer products, chemicals, matches and rubber. In these case studies, Coble points to the diversity of war experiences by firm, by individual and by sector. He emphasizes the specificity of the war experience, arguing that "Chinese capitalists did not experience the war as a class; they did so as individuals" (p. 101).

This conclusion points both to the diversity of individual experience and the vagaries of war, where some factories were destroyed completely in the fighting while facilities next door survived. Coble argues against the "new remembering" of the war in China, where capitalists from the 1930s and 1940s are simplistically portrayed as either patriots who refused to cooperate with the Japanese occupation or traitorous collaborators who did. In reality, the picture was much more complicated. Many capitalists simultaneously ran businesses in free China under the Nationalists and in occupied China under the Japanese. Coble repeatedly argues for a complex reading. For example, China's most famous chemical magnate, Fan Xudong, appears to be one of China's greatest patriots, but Coble points out that the Japanese interest in dominating strategic industries like chemicals left no room for collaboration.

Amidst this complexity Coble does note some patterns, but these relate more to the nature of Chinese business culture than to the false dichotomy of patriotism/collaboration during war. To him, the two defining characteristics of Chinese business culture are a reliance on personal connections rather than contractual ties, and the dominance of the family firm. From this premise, Coble comes to the conclusion that China's business culture helped capitalists survive the war. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Chinese Capitalists in Japan's New Order: The Occupied Lower Yangzi, 1937-1945
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.