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Modern Industry and the Peasant Economy in China (中国近代工业与小农经济)

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image of Rural China

Since its early history, due to the various constraints in exchanging with other civilizations, China has relied mainly on domestic resources to satisfy the needs of its population for consumption and employment and to solve the challenges that confronted the state. Central to this solution is the combination of the agriculture of the peasant family with traditional industry and sidelines, a process that evolved over thousands of years of persistent experiments, in which the biggest challenge lay in the constant tension between population growth and the constraint of resources on the satisfaction of subsistence needs. The advent of Western influences in the late Qing period made available the products of mass-manufacturing by machines to Chinese peasants as raw materials of the family-based industry and sidelines, hence the addition of a new factor to the preexisting pattern of resource allocation. What emerged in modern China thus was an unprecedented “modern tripartite structure” that encompassed the new-style family economy, modern industrial economy, and traditional rural economy. Nevertheless, the loss of the country’s sovereign rights and the recurrence of war impeded the transformation of the traditional mode of production that entailed the intervention of the state; the same factors also explain the failure of spontaneous non-governmental forces in developing a national economy in which industry and agriculture grew in full coordination with each other.由于国际交流环境的不利,中国自早期文明伊始,就只能主要依靠在领土范围内解决吃饭和就业等国计民生首要问题。这是靠小农家庭农业与工副业的结合,在数千年的不懈奋斗中完成的。农民家庭经济的最大问题是人口增加与谋生资源难以满足之间的压力。清末列强入侵后,农民紧紧抓住大机器产品作为家庭工副业的生产原料,为改进原有的资源配置增加了新因素。近代中国史无前例地出现了新式家庭经济、现代工业经济与传统农村经济的“近代三元结构”。但由于丧失国权、战乱频仍,需要国家之力介入的旧生产方式变革、工业与农业全方位协调发展的国民经济格局,未能由民间自发力量完成。(This article is in Chinese.)

Affiliations: 1: The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, ; 2: 中国社会科学院


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