Trade and Technology Networks in the Chinese Textile Industry Opening Up Before the Reform

by Carles Bras Broggi

Trade and Technology Networks in the Chinese Textile Industry Opening Up Before the Reform The aim of this book is to track the historical origins of Chinas economic reforms From the 1920s and 1930s strong ties were built between Chinese textile industrialists and foreign machinery importers in Shanghai and the Yangzi Delta Despite the fragmentation of China the contribution of these networks to the modernization of the country was important and longstanding Facing the challenge of growing in a fragmented country Chinese textile firms such as Dafeng Dacheng and Lixin focused on

Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan US

Author : Carles Bras Broggi

ISBN : 9781349579280

Year : 2016

Language: en

File Size : 7.4 MB

Category : Used Textbooks


Carles Brasó Broggi

Trade and Technology Networks in
the Chinese Textile Industry

Trade and Technology Networks in
the Chinese Textile Industry
Opening Up Before the Reform

Carles Brasó Broggi


Copyright © Carles Brasó Broggi 2016

Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 2016 978-1-137-49404-7
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ISBN: 978-1-349-57928-0
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DOI: 10.1057/9781137494054
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Brasó Broggi, Carles, 1979–
Trade and technology networks in the Chinese textile
industry : opening up before the reform / Carles Brasó Broggi.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Textile industry—China—History—20th century. 2. Business
networks—China—History—20th century. 3. Industrialization—
China—History—20th century. 4. China—Commerce—
History—20th century. I. Title.
HD9866.C52B73 2015
381 .4567700951—dc23
A catalogue record for the book is available from the British Library.




Pronunciation Guide


List of Abbreviations


1 The Origins of Dafeng, Lixin, and Dacheng
2 Technology Networks in the Yangzi Delta
3 Integrated Firms in a Dual Market
4 War and Isolation
5 The Great Leap Outwards
6 The Socialist Transition and the Shanghai–Hong Kong
7 Trade and Industrialization in Hong Kong
8 Networks in the Reform and Opening Up













The major part of the research included in this book has been possible through a two-year post-doctoral grant from the Chiang Ching-kuo
Foundation, European Program (2012–14). I wish to express my greatest
appreciation for the generosity of this organization, without which this book
would not have been possible. The Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation gave
me total freedom and all facilities to investigate during the two years in
Shanghai, Wuxi, Changzhou, Hong Kong, and London. It has been a wonderful experience, and I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the
professors who recommended this research project to the Chiang Ching-kuo
Foundation, Marianne Bastid-Bruguière and Jun Kajima.
A considerable part of the investigation was developed at the Shanghai
Academy of Social Sciences (SASS). This organization welcomed me as a
visiting scholar for the first time in 2009 and, since then, they have always
received me with hospitality and kindness. I’m especially grateful to my friend
Mr. Li Yihai and all the staff of the foreign relations bureau; Zhang Xiuli and
Luo Suwen, from the History Department; and Zhang Wei from the Chinese
Business History Archives, Department of Economics. During these two
years, I’ve felt very comfortable working at the beautiful offices of Huaihai
Road, in the center of Shanghai.
In Hong Kong, it was a great pleasure to stay at Hong Kong University’s campus. Professor Lee Pui-tak gave me a warm welcome and introduced
me to the secrets of its excellent library. From the beginning, Professor Lee
listened to my ideas on the Shanghai spinners and gave me very valuable orientations during the first stages of the book, helping me to formulate a concise
framework for the research. I’m therefore very grateful to Professor Lee, and
also to the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities & Social Sciences and
the HKU library, for giving me all these facilities.
In Barcelona, I’ve received support from the research group Alter, from
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Thanks to a fund given by the Spanish
Ministry of Science and Innovation (HAR2012-34823), I’ve been able to



participate in international congresses and workshops and also in seminars
of Asian studies in Barcelona. I’m particularly indebted to Professors Carles
Prado and David Martínez, the organizers of this research group and also to
the participants of the seminars for their valuable contributions. Finally, the
last part of revision of this book took place at the Institute d’Asie Orientale (IAO) de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon (ENS) and I would like
to express my heartfelt gratitude to Professor Christian Henriot for inviting
me and to all the team of the IAO for welcoming me in the wonderful city
of Lyon.
Because this book departs from a Phd thesis about Dafeng that I presented at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona (2010), I’m also indebted to
my Phd director, Dolors Folch, who believed in this project from the beginning. Between 2010 and 2012, while I was teaching at Universitat Pompeu
Fabra, Professors Manel Ollé, Jaume Torras, Jacint Soler, Albert Carreras,
Fernando Guirao and Xavier Tafunell gave me important orientations for
my research. To all of them, I must express my sincere gratitude.
During these six years, I’ve been absorbed with Chinese textile firms, and
I benefited from the valuable feedbacks, contributions, and dialogues with
international scholars. Naturally, some of the ideas of this book emerged in
the course of such conversations. I particularly remember profitable talks
about China’s textile industry with Jean-Pascal Bassino, Pablo Blitstein,
Davide Cantoni, Robert Cliver, Montserrat Crespín, Chan Kai Yiu, Chi
Kong Lai, Parks Coble, Jacob Eyferth, Feng Xiaocai, Emanuele Felice, Josep
Fontana, Kuo Huei-ying, Albert Galvany, Ge Zixia, Gilles Guiheux, Christian
Henriot, Lawrence Ho, Jon Howlett, Sabine Ichikawa, Amy King, Khun Eng
Kuah-Pearce, Enrique Larreta, Li Jian, Lin Man-houng, Ma Jun, Jordi Nadal,
Horacio Ortiz, Ander Permanyer, Sam C. Ro, Lisa Strauss, Toru Kubo,
Nacho Toro, Wang Jing, Wong Siu-lun, Yang Kuisong, Madeleine Zelin, and
Zhang Zhongmin.
Without being invited to workshops and seminars, I wouldn’t have had
the chance to meet with the scholars and discuss the issues of this book.
Therefore, I would like to thank the organizers and participants of the
following workshops and seminars: Fashion History Seminars in China
(French Consulate, 2013–14); Merchants in Migration (Chinese University
of Hong Kong, June 2013); China in Transition, 1945–55 (University of
Bristol, October 2011); Ch¯ugoku keikaku keizai ki (Tokyo University, July
2011); The Transnational ‘50s (Columbia University, May 2011); and Economic History Seminar Series (Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Universitat
Autònoma de Barcelona).
I’ve also benefited from the advice and assistance of people who helped
me in finding valuable information about the trade and technology networks



of Dafeng, Lixin, and Dacheng, especially Eleanor Wong, H. C. Tang, Nick
Gomersall, and Li Jian from the family and private side, and also Alain Farhi,
Carey Veil, Hugh Farmer (including his website “the Hong Kong Industrial
History Group”), and Bob Ching (from the Harvard Club of Shanghai).
In Shanghai, I’m also indebted to Frank Tsai and all the people who participate at Book Club. Still in Shanghai, my thanks to Michelle Blumenthal,
Tara Varma, Carolina Ballester, Salvador Pons and Magdalena Rossell. I also
wish to thank for the language assistance received from Forrest Travison in
English and Gao Qiuyue in Chinese.
I would also like to thank the people responsible for the Shanghai Municipal Archives, Donghua Textile University Library, the Textile Museum of
Shanghai, the Ningbo Textile Museum, Jiangsu Provincial Archives, Shanghai
Library, Wuxi Municipal Archives, Xujiahui Library, Changzhou Municipal Archives, National Archives at Kew (London), and Hong Kong Public
Records Office.
It’s been a privilege to work with Editor Rachel Krause, who showed
enthusiastic support for this project when it was only an idea, and Veronica Goldstein who has assisted me in the writing process. I wish to express my
heartfelt gratitude to both the editors of Palgrave Macmillan for their support
and kindness and their team, especially Indumathy Gunasekaran and Chelsea
And finally I would like to thank my wife, Marta Rossich, who decided to
come to Shanghai and Hong Kong during these two wonderful years.

Pronunciation Guide

The names in this book appear in the pinyin system of transliteration, except
some well-known names (like Chiang Kai-shek or Hong Kong). The names
of the bibliographical references appear as it’s shown in the publication.
Some Chinese names that have English versions, such as Li Shuxiong (James
H. Lee) appear in pinyin and in the English form in brackets. There is a
final glossary with proper nouns in pinyin and Chinese characters, ordered
according to the name in pinyin.

List of Abbreviations


Chinese Business History Archives
Changzhou Municipal Archives
Second Historical Archives of China, Chinese
Maritime Customs Historical Materials
Changzhou Municipal Archives. Historical Archive
Materials of Dacheng
Hong Kong Dollar
Hong Kong Public Records Office
Haikwan tael
Hong Kong University Library Special Collection
Historical Materials of Liu Guojun, see Li, Liu
guojun wenji
National Archives at Kew (London)
Shanghai Municipal Archives
Wuxi Municipal Archives
Zhongguo zibenzhuyi gongshangye de shehui zhuyi

The Argument
The industrialization of China is an extraordinary event in human history.
Since the start of the opening up and reform process in the late 1970s, the
People’s Republic of China (PRC) has become the world’s biggest factory and
is now the world’s largest trading power while it maintains a unique structure of firm ownership and business organization. In 2013, China accounted
for 43.1 percent of global clothing exports.1 These facts contrast with the
historical predominance of agriculture well until 1978, despite all efforts to
promote industrialization.2 However, there was a period before 1949 when
private textile firms sprouted—especially in Shanghai and the Yangzi Delta—
and led a process of industrialization, although this was confined to some
cities and ports. This book identifies the trade and technology networks that
link this first industrialization with the reform and opening up process that
began 50 years later.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Shanghai and other surrounding cities
like Wuxi and Changzhou took off and the Yangzi Delta became one of
the most industrialized regions in Asia.3 Some of these firms that survived
Japanese occupation and the Civil War moved to Hong Kong, where they
played a leading role in its industrialization. The textile industry, particularly the cotton sector, was predominant in Shanghai during the 1920s and
1930s, as well as in Hong Kong during the Cold War. Furthermore, the textile industry became a staple sector under Deng Xiaoping’s regime, when
Hong Kong firms were taken as models of technologically advanced capitalist
companies.4 This book identifies common networks in these three processes
of industrialization.
This book talks about the trade and technology networks that “opened
up” the Chinese textile industry to the world markets well before the reform
started in the late 1970s. It defends the hypothesis of continuity of a business
network based on industrial and trading firms that first imported technology
and finally exported finished goods, a model that was shaped by the historical experiences of China’s industrialization: the first stage being the 1920s

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