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Money, Power, and the State: The Origins of the Military-Fiscal State in Modern China

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Abstract During the late 1800s, internal rebellion and European imperialism transformed existing patterns of taxation, resource distribution, and government spending in China. Continual preparation for war led to an enormous growth in the state’s extractive capacity, and indirect commercial taxes supplanted the system of direct agrarian levies established in the early Qing era. Authorities earmarked the majority of these new resources for military spending in eastern China in an effort to amass the sinews of politico-economic power. Together these changes laid the initial foundation for the military-fiscal state in modern China, a transformation that parallels the experience of early modern Europe.


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