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Socialist Transformation and the Demise of Private Entrepreneurs

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Wu Yunchu’s Tragedy

image of European Journal of East Asian Studies

This paper examines the fate of Wu Yunchu, a major industrialist in the Republican period, and his Tian-brand companies after 1949. Although the ccp had proclaimed its desire to include the ‘national bourgeoisie’ in the new political system and to support private enterprise, it disavowed itself with the launching of the public–private joint management policy that de facto eliminated the private sector. The paper argues that the partly state-owned and fully private companies followed a different path, but eventually all came under the fold of the socialist state. Conceived in ideological terms and implemented hastily, the so-called ‘socialist transformation’ (shehuizhuyi gaizao) suppressed any hope the Chinese entrepreneurs may have entertained of playing a role in Chinese development and society. At the same time, the ill-conceived policy created numerous hurdles that actually hurt national industrial production.

Affiliations: 1: Shanghai Municipal Archives Research Institute


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