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The transformation of traditional Chinese guilds in modern times

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As traditional business organizations that played an important role in China’s economy, guilds have faced unprecedented challenges in modern times due to the invasion of Western capitalism and the changes of the traditional Chinese economic structure. It was difficult to maintain the old guild rules, such as limitations on opening new workshops, recruiting new apprentices, etc. Thus, some guilds that insisted on maintaining the old rules fell into decline, while other guilds, either willingly or unwillingly, made reforms in their organization and structural function to adjust themselves to the new situations. The latter gradually transformed into the modern trade association. The different fates of traditional guilds proved that guilds had to reform properly and adapt themselves to new economic and social environments in order to survive in modern times.


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