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Chinese Capitalists in Japan’s New Order

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

Parks M. Coble
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 309
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppcn7
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  • Book Info
    Chinese Capitalists in Japan’s New Order
    Book Description:

    In this probing and original study, Parks M. Coble examines the devastating impact of Japan's invasion and occupation of the lower Yangzi on China's emerging modern business community. Arguing that the war gravely weakened Chinese capitalists, Coble demonstrates that in occupied areas the activities of businessmen were closer to collaboration than to heroic resistance. He shows how the war left an important imprint on the structure and culture of Chinese business enterprise by encouraging those traits that had allowed it to survive in uncertain and dangerous times. Although historical memory emphasizes the entrepreneurs who followed the Nationalists armies to the interior, most Chinese businessmen remained in the lower Yangzi area. If they wished to retain any ownership of their enterprises, they were forced to collaborate with the Japanese and the Wang Jingwei regime in Nanjing. Characteristics of business in the decades prior to the war, including a preference for family firms and reluctance to become public corporations, distrust of government, opaqueness of business practices, and reliance of personal connections(guanxi)were critical to the survival of enterprises during the war and were reinforced by the war experience. Through consideration of the broader implications of the many responses to this complex era,Chinese Capitalists in Japan's New Ordermakes a substantial contribution to larger discussions of the dynamics of World War II and of Chinese business culture.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92829-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. [Maps]
    (pp. xiv-xviii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Even in a century filled with war, revolution, and death, the eight years of the Sino-Japanese war stand out as a time of great violence and change. From the summer of 1937, when the Japanese swept through the economic and political heartland of China, cities and rural areas alike suffered devastation. The toll in human costs was staggering. Though exact figures will never be known, more than three million Chinese soldiers and probably eighteen million civilians perished. At least ninety-five million became refugees. Property losses are even harder to assess, but one recent estimate is more than US $100 billion.¹...

  7. PART ONE War

    • CHAPTER 1 Surviving the Fall of Shanghai
      (pp. 11-30)

      In the month immediately following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 7, 1937, the fighting between China and Japan was confined to north China, and hope for a settlement seemed viable. The eruption of conflict in Shanghai on August 13, however, quickly brought the two countries into total war. Chiang Kaishek, leader of the Guomindang (Nationalist) Government, who had pursued a policy of appeasement since the Manchurian Incident of 1931, now decided that he could afford no further concessions. Feeling that he had a much better chance of holding the Japanese at Shanghai than in the north, Chiang rushed...

  8. PART TWO Conquerors and their Collaborators

    • CHAPTER 2 Japan’s New Order
      (pp. 33-48)

      By early winter of 1938 Japan seemed triumphant in China. After weeks of bitter fighting, Chiang Kaishek’s forces abandoned Wuhan and were in full retreat to Sichuan. The city of Canton (Guangzhou) fell in October with very little resistance. Now Hong Kong joined island Shanghai as a foreign enclave surrounded by Japanese-held territory. The coastal areas of China from Beijing-Tianjin to Shanghai to Canton, its richest and most economically advanced zones, were now in Japanese hands. But what did Japan plan to do with this new empire? Was it to be operated as a backward colony with no room for...

    • CHAPTER 3 Establishing Control: The North China and Central China Development Companies
      (pp. 49-66)

      In the opening phase of the war from July 1937 until November 1938, Japanese forces had adhered to the policy of “using the war to sustain the war.” While this often brought short-term gains, plundering and extractions did little to foster economic recovery. As economic and political problems in the occupied area mounted, Tokyo undertook a more systematic approach to the organization and development of its economy. In March 1938 the Japanese cabinet began planning for the establishment of large national development companies for China. Envisioned as broad-based holding companies, they were to channel and organize public and private Japanese...

    • CHAPTER 4 Puppet Governments and Chinese Capitalists
      (pp. 67-98)

      Creation of client governments featured prominently in Japanese activities in China, dating from the establishment of Manchukuo. Pejoratively referred to as puppet governments, these regimes differed from purely colonial administrations (such as Korea and Taiwan) in that they were nominally independent entities. Why create such structures? Although the answer is complex, the simplest explanation is that such governments were thought to assist in controlling conquered territory by gaining the support or at least acquiescence of the population. The Japanese structures were marred by several major flaws, the most significant of which was the failure of the military to grant the...

  9. PART THREE Chinese Capitalists:: Survival and Collaboration

    • CHAPTER 5 Individual Firms and the War Experience
      (pp. 101-113)

      Chinese capitalists did not experience the war as a class; they did so as individuals. Each businessperson made his (rarely her) own decisions based on circumstances, opportunities, and personal views. That so many chose to act in the same way—in moving to the foreign settlements in 1937, for instance—suggests that the background of the individuals and the circumstances they faced were similar. Yet the fortunes of war could often vary quite widely. Factories just a few blocks apart often suffered strikingly different degrees of damage. Some businessmen had better luck, better connections, and better timing in moving material...

    • CHAPTER 6 The Rong Family Industrial Enterprises and the War
      (pp. 114-139)

      Of all of the industrial capitalists in China, the Rong family group had the size and diversity to survive the war. A study of the fate of this group reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of Chinese business culture and organization under war conditions. Founded by Rong Zongjing and his younger brother Rong Desheng, the Rong industrial empire included Shenxin textile mills (ten in all) as well as the Maoxin and Fuxin flour mills (sixteen in all). Rong operations extended from their native Wuxi to Shanghai, Hankou, and beyond. Although the mid-1930s brought some difficult times for the Rongs, they...

    • CHAPTER 7 Textile and Consumer Industries in the War Era: Beyond the Rong Model
      (pp. 140-166)

      The experiences of the Rong family, although revealing much about war-time conditions, were not typical. The Rongs were simply too large for this to be the case. In the Rongs’ situation, some plants were destroyed, some were occupied and given to Japanese firms, some relocated in the interior, and some flourished in island Shanghai. Most Chinese firms were much smaller and experienced only one piece of this scenario. Yet an analysis of experiences of other textile and consumer industry groups during the war era demonstrates some of the same patterns of the Rong experience. The nature of the Chinese business...

    • CHAPTER 8 Chemical and Match Industrialists
      (pp. 167-194)

      On the eve of the war, China’s chemical industry was quite small, though growing rapidly. As James Reardon-Anderson points out (citing statistics developed by D. K. Lieu), only 4.5 percent of factories in China in 1933 (148 total) were chemical factories; these had an average workforce of 186 and capital of 178,000 yuan. The vast majority (80 percent) manufactured consumer goods, such as matches, soap, candles, enamelware, cosmetics, and medicines. By comparison with the chemical industries in Europe, America, and Japan, China’s remained relatively primitive. Still, Chinese manufacturers had achieved production breakthroughs in several areas, such as alkali soda ash,...

    • CHAPTER 9 China’s Rubber Industry
      (pp. 195-204)

      Production of rubber goods was one of the newest segments of Shanghai’s industry, with most factories being established after 1925. Totally dependent on importation of raw materials and requiring a sophisticated technical base, rubber production got off to a slow start. From its inception, Chinese rubber manufacturing found itself intertwined with Japan. Virtually all Chinese producers used some Japanese equipment and even personnel to begin production. Yet the biggest obstacle they faced was competition from Japanese companies. Although few Japanese firms manufactured in China before 1937, they enjoyed better access to raw materials and superior technology, enabling them to underprice...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 205-214)

    In 1997 a Chinese American writer, Iris Chang, publishedThe Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. The book quickly became a best-seller, and the author made the rounds of television talk shows. What was perhaps more surprising was the emotional reaction of many Chinese Americans and Chinese living in North America. Through internet connections, many began to urge their comrades to buy multiple copies of the work to keep it on best-seller charts, and to donate the extra copies to schools to promote awareness of the atrocities suffered by Chinese during the war. Meanwhile, a group...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 215-252)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-274)
  13. Glossary
    (pp. 275-284)
  14. Index
    (pp. 285-296)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 297-297)