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Mass- and Elite-Based Strategies for Cooperative Development in Wartime Nationalist China: Western Views on the ‘Gung Ho’ Industrial Cooperative Experience

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This discussion examines wartime debates over the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives’ (CIC) ‘Gung Ho’ movement. The CIC experience provides a distinctive case study of mobilisation in Nationalist China at war, endeavouring to extend the momentum of the ‘great industrial migration’, as a force for social transformation, from the inland cities to the countryside. CIC was also to become a focus for overseas support for China’s resistance against Japanese invasion. The discussion reveals differences over elite- and mass-based strategies for cooperative development as revealed from Western inputs into the CIC debates, at the same time noting different ways in which foreigners sought to strengthen relations with wartime China. While CIC’s promoters reached beyond philanthropism towards a pragmatic solidarity, cooperative experts from the emerging international development community sought universal formulations for overseas assistance, advocating adherence to Western cooperative models, and reinforcing an elitist emphasis on expertise. CIC was to fall far short of its ambitions for a people’s cooperative movement as a permanent force for China’s democratic future. Here it is argued that under combined pressures of Guomindang (Nationalist Party, Kuomintang) statism and Western neocolonialism, CIC’s distinctive developmental strategy, based on the mobilisation of workers in cooperative self-help, was never allowed to fulfil its potential.

Affiliations: 1: University of Central Lancashire


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