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4. Engineering China

Birth of the Developmental State,

William C. Kirby


In December 1926, the engineer Peter Palchinsky wrote to the prime minister of the Soviet Union. Science and technology, he argued, did more—even than Communism!—to shape modern society. The twentieth century was "not one of international communism, but of international technology. We need to recognize not a Komintern, but a ‘Tekhintern.’"[1] Ideas like these would get Palchinsky shot in Stalin's Russia. For the Nationalist movement of China's Guomindang, which three months later quit the Comintern and purged itself of Communists, they were at the heart of its conception of modernity.

Shanghai—as Leo Lee has argued so eloquently—may have been the native place for a new, public culture of private life; but in 1928 Nanjing was the capital of a "new China" whose aim was as much the physical as the cultural remaking of the nation. If in Shanghai modernity could be defined as "the material transformation of everyday life,"[2] Nanjing was consumed with the industrial metamorphosis of national life, planned by a central—and centralizing—government. China would be industrialized and internationalized (for the two went hand in hand) through the mediation of the state. This was a quite different vision of the modern than could be found in Shanghai's kiosks, cafes, and department stores. At a time of permanent national crisis, it was ultimately a compelling one.

The new government aimed to "reconstruct" China to make it modern. A gleaming capital would rise out of the mud alleys of Nanjing, a city twice destroyed in the previous century. The cities would be industrialized, the countryside electrified, and the provinces joined by networks of railroads, motor roads, and— most exciting of all—air routes to get the "stagnant race" of Chinese (Sun Yatsen's phrase) on the move.[3] The landscape would be transfigured through electrification, industrialization, and communications. All this would be planned "scientifically"

by a government imbued with a technocratic confidence and cooperating with advanced industrial nations.

To some extent these transformations were under way well before 1928, even in the absence of a working central government. China was enjoying a "dynamic and robust" industrial boom that had begun over a decade earlier.[4] Its major cities (Shanghai, Beijing, Canton, and even Chengdu) engaged in rudimentary urban planning.[5] An embryonic rail network had been created with foreign capital. But the National Government came to power with an agenda to do much more. Its late leader had proposed a "second industrial revolution" in which a hundred thousand miles of rail would be laid, the Yangzi tamed and its Three Gorges dammed, and automobiles manufactured so inexpensively that "everyone who wishes it, may have one."[6]

Sun Yatsen's Industrial Plan (Shiye jihua, published first in English as The International Development of China six years before the establishment of the Nationalist regime) was the first attempt to design the integrated economic development of a unified China. One author dates the beginning of "modern China" from its publication.[7] Today, many Three-, Four-, Five-, and Ten-Year Plans later, it remains the most audacious and memorable of national development programs. Sun's strategies to develop "the vast resources of China… internationally under a socialistic scheme, for the good of the world in general and the Chinese people in particular" would be shared by his Nationalist and Communist successors.[8] The realization of his Industrial Plan became the cardinal goal of Nationalist economic policy. In the People's Republic, Sun's "great legacy" for the management of the modern Chinese economy would be celebrated.[9]

Sun's more concrete plans also left their mark.[10] His sketch of a national Chinese rail network, which emphasized political aspirations (linking provincial capitals) over economic relationships, provided the framework for Nationalist and early Communist routing plans.[11] His two-paragraph proposal to "improve the upper Yangzi" with an enormous dam spawned seventy-five years of effort and debate.[12] When construction finally began in 1994, it moved an unpoetical engineer, P. R.C. Premier Li Peng, to verse:[13]

As we begin to carry out the blueprint
It is a new era
And the tide is high

Sun was the visionary, not the scientist, economist, or engineer. Yet projects of the scale and complexity of those he advocated would bring scientists, economists, and engineers into the center of Chinese governance. The academies, commissions, and ministries created to "reconstruct" China would, in turn, change the mission of the Chinese state. If Sun Yatsen could admire publicly Lenin's New Economic Policy, praising its promotion of state capitalism and "national socialism,"[14] his successors would lay the foundation for a Stalinist state in China, the economic management of which would be the responsibility of the world's largest bureaucracy.


The result would not be "technocracy," a term that has been rendered in Chinese as "the dictatorship of engineers,"[15] for among Sun's other contributions to the modern Chinese polity were the supremacy of the Leninist party-state and the centrality of the military in it.[16] But with Sun began a dream of modernity to be interpreted by a transformative government. Revered by his disciples as the Republic's founding father, or guofu, Sun was more precisely the spiritual father of the Chinese developmental state.[17]


The National Government aimed to make its mark on China first in its new national capital, the old "southern capital," or Nanjing. Although a former dynastic capital and, very briefly, the seat of the first government of the Republic, it was better known in modern times for "sieges, sacks, massacres, rapine, conflagration and destruction."[18] During the civil wars of the mid-nineteenth century it had been utterly destroyed, first by the Taiping rebels, who made it their "heavenly capital," and then by vengeful Qing loyalists. It had been a battleground again in 1911 and 1913. The Nationalists' "Nanjing decade" began in 1927, with their military occupation of the city, and it would end in 1937 with the city's conquest and "rape" at the hands of the Japanese;[19] in between, however, the Nationalists tried to build a capital worthy of their dreams.

Their model capital was inherited in a sorry state. Writers could praise Nan-jing's scenic qualities because much of the city had become "a veritable rus in urbe" in the past century: "One finds inside the citywalls of Nanking waste spaces, ponds, and patches of cultivated land scattered here and there in the same way as they are outside of the walls."[20] Its population was about one-third of what it had been in early Ming times, when more than 1 million inhabited Nanjing.[21] As a modern city it was "notorious for its dim electric light, narrow and uneven roads, and poor telephone service,"[22] not to mention its mud and mosquitoes. There was no sewage system save the infested canals, which served as a source of drinking water for the city's poor.[23] All this was but a challenge. A new Nanjing might be created from nearly nothing: it could become what we might think of today as a Chinese Brasilia.

Within a year of the founding of the regime, the Office of Technical Experts for Planning the National Capital under the leadership of an American-trained engineer had developed a detailed and beautifully illustrated design for a reconstructed Nanjing.[24] The city's boundaries were vastly expanded to house both the new government and (planning rather too conservatively into the next century) an anticipated population of 2 million. Rail connections were to be enhanced and a huge airport built. Detailed plans were drawn for modern sewage, drinking water, and electric power systems. A new government district of nearly ten square kilometers was be erected on the site just west of the old Ming palace, south of the

Ming tombs and an imposing Sun Yatsen Mausoleum. At its center would be a modern palace complex, on a north-south axis, dominated at its northern end by a massive Guomindang headquarters (Zhongyang dangbu), an international architectural marvel combining features of Beijing's Temple of Heaven and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (The site of the National Government was along similar lines on a smaller, subservient scale.) The Nanjing municipal government would get its own quarter with a large but tasteful yamen compound, in traditional style, near the Bell Tower. A Cultural Center, including an Olympic-sized stadium, would be situated on Wu Tai Mountain.[25] Beyond all this the city would be beautified. Twelve new parks would be constructed. In Parisian style, trees would line the avenues. Electric streetlights would be made in the shape of Chinese lanterns. "Obnoxious and dangerous industries" would be located away from the city center, on the northern bank of the Yangzi. A "comprehensive system of parkways and main arteries" was conceived, dominated by the grand, sixlane Zhongshan lu, or Sun Yatsen Road. A "ring boulevard" was to encircle the new capital, but not, as later in Beijing, at the expense of the city wall. The wall would be retained, perhaps with the thought—times being what they were—that it might be needed. So Nanjing's ring road would run on top of the old wall, offering its motorists a panorama of city, river, and suburbs.[26]

It will be obvious to a visitor to contemporary Nanjing, which today looks more a provincial than a national capital, that not all these things were built. A few were, some in dramatic fashion: Zhongshan lu was bulldozed forty meters wide through the city center to honor the guofu and was rushed to completion in time for Sun's interment in his stately mausoleum in June 1929. Residents in the way were given ten days to leave their homes.[27] The new center of the city, Xinjiekou, where Zhongshan lu converged with other main arteries, was turned into a large concrete rotary. The central buildings of the party-state were indeed located near an old palace—but in rather more modest quarters in the old Taiping palace grounds. Government ministries, after several years of being housed in borrowed and occupied buildings, were gradually moved to more properly ministerial quarters. And massive numbers of trees were planted. Seedlings imported from France would later shade a Communist Nanjing.

The most telling point about Nanjing's facelift was that it was planned. Nanjing was the first Chinese city to employ comprehensive zoning and planning regulations designed according to international standards.[28] Its Office of Technical Experts drafted the national legislation for municipal planning and zoning. A National Capital Reconstruction Commission was organized in 1929 to carry out a six-year plan to build municipal services, parks, roads, and housing. In this it was led by its engineering division and a force of city planning engineers.[29] If Nanjing today can lay claim to being "one of the most beautiful, clean, and well-planned cities in China," this is due in part to the determined efforts of Nationalist engineers and public works officials—and to the fact that their most outlandish schemes were unrealized.[30]


There is a long history in China of planning capital cities and their official edifices. What distinguished the Nationalist regime was its confidence in its ability to plan, first for the capital and then for the entire country, on an international technological standard. This was a faith so widely shared in the new National Government that the mission of "reconstruction" was undertaken initially by almost every arm of it.

Electrifying China. A Reconstruction Ministry (Jianshebu) was created in January 1928, fittingly enough with Sun Yatsen's son, Sun Ke (Sun Fo), as minister. "Reconstruction," Sun Ke said upon taking his post, "is of course the first and foremost goal of the Revolution."[31] Sun Ke's faith in government planning had been tested in Canton, where as mayor he had presided over the introduction of modern sewers and public utilities. Sun Ke was reconstruction minister for only six days when he undertook a six-month European tour to win foreign investment for his father's plans. His trip was a total flop, and while he was away his ministry was abolished; but he returned to China undeterred and drafted a fifty-year plan to construct the railways, harbors, and industries that Sun Yatsen had envisioned. This Jianshe dagang cao'an (Draft plan for [realization of] the fundamentals of national reconstruction) became Guomindang policy in November 1928. For a few years Sun Ke could pursue one part of this plan in his new capacity as minister of railways, but the larger task of planning and coordinating "reconstructive" enterprises had fallen to a new National Reconstruction Commission.

Established in February 1928, the National Reconstruction Commission (Jian-she weiyuanwei) was composed of some thirty-nine members, including all ministers of cabinet rank, all heads of provincial Reconstruction Bureaux (jiansheting), and the mayors of Nanjing and Shanghai municipalities. Although deputed to "research, prepare, and complete a Reconstruction Plan for the Whole Country" in the "spirit" of Sun Yatsen's guidelines, it quickly focused on electrification.[32] It seemed to follow (with the proper political substitutions) Lenin's famous dictum that Communism meant "Soviet Power plus the electrification of the whole country."[33] Sun Yatsen had been almost as eloquent on this subject as Lenin: he had urged electrification in writings and speeches since 1894. Civilization, he later wrote, was defined by the "age of electricity." In 1924 he had told his Guomindang comrades that "if China wants to learn the strong points from foreign counties, it should, first of all, try to use electricity rather than coal as an energy source."[34](Just how Sun thought electricity would be generated is not clear.) As Yun Zhen, a young engineer in the National Reconstruction Commission who would later direct much of China's electrical industries, recalled: electric power, which would promote industry and commerce, permit the exploitation of natural resources, and increase agricultural production, was considered "the people's salvation."[35]

The National Reconstruction Commission began by drafting a grandiose, Soviet-style plan for lighting up the country. "Super-power" stations linked by high-tension transmission lines would supply large areas, and their substations

would gradually replace small local stations.[36] But as in Lenin's Russia, where the unveiling of the national electrification plan in the form of an enormous map, dotted with lightbulbs, took enough of Moscow's meager power supply that the rest of the city had to be blacked out, [37] the National Reconstruction Commission had its hands full illuminating the capital city. Its nationalization and reorganization of the Nanjing Electrical Works would count as one of its major successes.

The commission had to compromise both on the scope of its plans and on principles of ownership of the Chinese electrical power enterprise. It was the first National Government agency to confront directly the ambiguities of Sun Yatsen's economic thought regarding what should be "public" (and government owned) and what should remain in the private sphere. In principle, electrical enterprises of the large scale planned by the commission ought to have been of "strategic" importance and under government ownership. The power works at Nanjing were indeed nationalized. But the large majority of China's 575 electrical power enterprises were privately run and of very small size, and the commission had neither the mannor, as it turned out, the willpower to take them over. Only seventeen plants were government owned by 1930, and to preclude further nationalizations a National Association of Private Electric Power Enterprises (Quanguo minying dianye lianhehui) organized in 1929 to plead its collective case to Nanjing.

The commission faced fiscal reality—the small financial capacity of the new government compared with its large aims—by evolving quickly into a regulatory body for what now began to be considered "public utilities": gongyong shiye (publicly used enterprises) that would not be gongying shiye (publicly run enterprises). The government still had a strong role to play, however. Regulations for electrical enterprises promulgated in 1930 standardized technical systems among electric power firms and required government approval for any new electrical utilities or for the issuance of bonds to expand old ones. In its regulatory capacity the commission authored regulations that covered a broad range of other services and enterprises, including public waterworks, gas companies, trolley and autobus lines, radio stations, shipping companies, and (just being formed) commercial airlines. The government reserved the right to regulate prices and profit margins for twenty (later thirty) years, and could determine how "excess" annual profits (defined as in excess of 25 percent of capital) would be reinvested (e.g., in plant expansion, employee pension funds, etc.).[38]

The commission's regulatory initiatives were symptomatic of one pattern of state intrusion into the economy that marked the early Nationalist years. Before 1927, Chinese industry and commerce had been "comparatively free from legislative and administrative control of a regular nature."[39] The first years of Nationalist rule, however, saw passage of a considerable body of legislation affecting commerce and industry, including a Law of Insurance (1929), Maritime Law (1929), Negotiable Instruments Law (1929), Trademark Law (1930), and a new Company Law (1929), which regulated the organizational structure of private corporations.[40] Private businesses were subjected to a broad range of new taxes, inspections,

certifications, export duties, and import tariffs by a government that was now strong enough and close enough to China's industrial and commercial centers to enforce them, when it wished to.

The regulatory approach to economic development was pushed perhaps farthest in the case of government intervention to modernize one of China's oldest industries, that of silk manufacturing, as will be discussed below. But regulation alone could not accomplish the Industrial Plan or entice the foreign assistance that was essential to it. As the National Reconstruction Commission withdrew to an oversight and regulatory role, its original mandate, to coordinate all economic development efforts, fell in 1931 to another bureaucratic superbody, the National Economic Council (NEC, Quanguo jingji weiyuanhui). The list of its putative powers was impressive and included authority over all publicly financed projects for economic development.[41] But it was above all a vehicle for cooperation with the closest equivalent of Palchinsky's "Tekhintern," the League of Nations.


The League of Nations had been active in an advisory capacity in China in matters of public health since the early 1920s. The director of the Health Section of the League's Secretariat, Dr. Ludwig Rajchman, was the moving spirit behind the League's involvement with China after the formation of the National Government. After 1927 he assisted in the formation of China's National Quarantine Service, which recaptured one area of Chinese administrative control from the Maritime Customs. He suggested a larger program of cooperation by which the League, as a multilateral agency, could supply technical aid without political risk to the National Government.[42] Politics would in fact never be absent from the League mission, which could not be separated from the League's condemnation of the Japanese seizure of Manchuria in 1931. (Rajchman would be cashiered in 1934 as Technical Agent for China for his pro-Chinese sentiments.) It is accurate to say, however, that the League program in China that developed after 1931 was "one of the most purely disinterested aid programs of the twentieth century."[43]

The League's work through the NEC was multifaceted but also limited to certain domains, reflecting the international organization's own definition of development assistance. It was not a World Bank capable of financing industrial infrastructure. Its work in China was defined by the three main League organizations represented in the founding of the NEC: those for health, economics and finance, and communications and transit. They provided advice, technical training, and, to a small degree, loans for experimental projects. In addition the League's Committee on Intellectual Cooperation supported educational and scholarly exchanges. As a group, however, these were categories broad enough to involve League advisers in matters ranging from silkworms to highways to higher education.[44]

The League's economic and finance section was employed by the NEC to promote fundamental reform of sericulture in order to revive one of China's most

important export industries. In Japan, a centralized system of "scientific breeding control," government subsidy, and export promotion had overcome China's former dominance in the world market and produced Japanese silk of a standard quality that was both cheaper and better "than the best Zhejiangese."[45] As the Great Depression took hold in the West between 1928 and 1933, exports of the inferior Chinese product fell by two-thirds. The National Government had promoted reform in the industry since 1927 and had worked with provincial officials to establish a "Commission for the Standardization of Sericulture in Jiangsu and Zhejiang" the following year. In 1932 the national and provincial governments worked with private industrialists to set national quality standards for silk manufacture, with government funding for research, agricultural extension, and inspection. To control a blight affecting Chinese silk larvae and to standardize quality, only silk certified by an official silk control bureau could be sold.[46] That same year, the League's expert, Benito Mari, former chairman of the Italian Association of Sericulture, conducted a survey of the silk industry in five provinces. He gave his international expert's imprimatur to "compulsory Government regulation" of the industry, including "a State monopoly for the control of everything pertaining to the cultivation of mulberry trees, to the preparation of silkworm eggs, to the rearing of silkworm and cocoons and to the price and sale of cocoons."[47] Although the government did not go quite that far, it followed Mari's advice by intruding into the industry in three new ways: the spraying with disinfectant of buildings (mostly private homes) used in silk production; the collectivization of silkworm maturation in temperature-controlled sheds; and, as in Japan, the banning of privately grown silkworm eggs (eggs grown on government-licensed sericultural farms were to be used instead).[48] These regulations were highly unpopular with farmers, who made their feelings known in the Zhejiang Silk Riots of 1933, and were highly effective in improving yield and quality in the counties where they were carried out with determination. Terry M. Weidner, who has studied the effort to regulate the silk industry, concludes that it "went a long way toward righting a troubled industry desperately in need of reform," even if at political cost to the regime.[49]

The most publicized aspect of the League/NEC cooperation was the work of the League of Nations Engineering Mission to China (through the League's Communications and Transit Office) in flood control and water conservancy.[50] Cooperation had begun in principle but not yet in fact when, in the summer of 1931, Yangzi River floods resulted in the deaths of six hundred thousand Chinese. As in the case of the silk industry, the League urged greater centralization and government control of all aspects of water conservancy. (This had been urged, too, by the professional Society of Chinese Water Control Engineers [Zhongguo shuili gongcheng xuehui].) Initial work in flood relief and epidemic prevention (70 percent of the deaths were due to disease and starvation)[51] evolved into an integrated approach to national hydraulic engineering under a centralized Water Conservancy Administration. Apart from this administrative coordination, League expertise was

focused on specific regional projects, notably dike restoration on the Yangzi and its tributaries and on engineering plans for the management of the Huai River. Here, short-term successes were most obvious in what did not happen: League-assisted flood control projects were "so effective that renewed high water in 1935 did little damage."[52] The long-term impact—for example, on interregional coordination of water management projects, experience in dam construction, and the training of Chinese hydraulic engineers—has yet to be researched.[53]

Perhaps the most impressive, and certainly the most extensive, result of the League's Engineering Mission was in the building of highways. Sun Yatsen's vision of "one million miles of road built in a very short time as if by a magic wand"[54] had not yet come to pass, but the fast pace of road building in the 1920s by provincial governments and bus companies provided a foundation for the Nationalists' planned national road network. Whereas in 1920 perhaps as little as 100 miles of improved road (theoretically passable by motor vehicle) existed in the entire country outside the foreign concessions, over 20,000 miles had been built by 1928; that number would reach nearly 40,000 in the first two years of the National Government, with a further 35,000 projected. (Beyond this, in more than thirty large cities, city walls were in the process of being torn down for replacement by motor roads.)[55] The majority of this road building took place under provincial Reconstruction Bureaux: in Zhejiang, for example, the Nanjing era saw the construction of a system of all-weather roads "linking every major political and economic center in the province."[56] For provincial and national officials alike, motor roads were the affordable alternative to a major expansion of the rail system, for which capital and investors were lacking in the early 1930s.[57]

Here again NEC and League engineers urged centralization and standardization. Road engineering standards and traffic laws varied enormously from province to province, often from locality to locality. So did road signs and traffic signals, which were mostly "incomprehensible" anyway.[58] Until 1932 cars licensed in one province could not be driven in another. (After extended negotiations, the provinces of Zhejiang, Anhui, and Jiangsu, as well as the cities of Nanjing and Shanghai, agreed to recognize each other's plates; still, thereafter, cars licensed in one province could travel in another only after paying an additional fee.)[59] Integrated planning began under a new Bureau of Roads, while League and Chinese engineers built experimental roads at different locations with local materials.[60]

It was with great fanfare, therefore, that the Shanghai-Hangzhou Motor Road opened on October 10, 1932, as the first section of the Shanghai-Guangxi Trunk Line, itself part of a planned seven-province, eleven-trunk-line project of approximately 14,000 miles. This was a typical "modern" road of this region, with alignment and grades meeting international standards, built on a foundation of broken brick and surfaced with crushed shells and cinders. Some two hundred automobiles motored that day the seven hours from Shanghai to Hangzhou, some completing the return trip the same day. The road was in fact not quite finished (ready or not, it had to open on National Day), and there were some problems: farmer resistance

to the road was expressed by the building of a stone wall across it; T. V. Soong's party knocked down several confused pedestrians; and in traffic the road proved much dustier than predicted—it would later get a cheap oil coating. But on the whole the venture was declared a great success.[61]

Educating Engineers. All of the League/NEC endeavors had implications for another sector, that of scientific and technical education. Efforts in water conservancy and road construction competed with each other, and with railroads and private industry, for the services of a prize group of Chinese civil engineers from Shanghai's Jiaotong, or Communications, University and a small number of other institutions. In the Nanjing decade the number of Chinese specialists, educated at home or abroad, in the employment of the rail lines had finally sufficed to meet the (political) demand for Chinese leadership in the technical positions formerly held by foreigners;[62] but for new endeavors such as the road network the shortage was such that the League Engineering Mission proposed that the Bureau of Roads train its own engineers in a new Technical Civil Engineering Station.

The centralizing, rationalizing thrust of the League mission was perhaps best expressed in its proposal for a nationwide Employment Bureau for Intellectual and Technical Workers. It aimed to place university graduates in positions where they could "best serve the nation…[while supplying] the Chinese central and provincial administrations, as well as public and private undertakings in the country, with the qualified technical persons required." The bureau would have branch offices in Geneva and the United States coordinating the technical studies of Chinese abroad with their future careers in China.[63] Such a comprehensive bureau never materialized, but the "nationalization" of job placement in specific disciplines would begin in the early years of the war.

More immediately influential were League proposals for a fundamental reform of Chinese higher education to meet the needs of economic development. This was the work of the League program on International Intellectual Cooperation, which had been founded with the noble goal of promoting peace by creating a "universal conscience" through the international exchange of scholars.[64] It was a hard-boiled group, however, that the League dispatched to China in 1931, at the outset of its technical assistance program, to propose (as its two-hundred-page report was titled) The Reorganization of Education in China.[65]

This "Becker Commission," named for its leader, the former Prussian minister of education C. H. Becker, decried the "alarming consequences of the excessive influence of the American model on Chinese education,"[66] by which was meant, above all, the then-prevalent curriculum of electives and "credits," which enhanced general education at the expense of specialized knowledge, and the organization of faculty in departments and colleges, which worked against centralization and oversight. Although arguing against vulgar utilitarianism in education, the report was harshly critical of the lack of central planning for China's hybrid system of public and private, Chinese and foreign, colleges and universities.

Its recommendations aimed to strengthen the state's hand in setting educational agendas. It proposed (not surprisingly, perhaps) a continental-style restructuring—for example, academic chairs in place of departments—to centralize administration, including national-level oversight over chaired appointments; to rationalize geographically and fiscally the system of national (guoli) universities; and to establish a nationwide system of entrance examinations that would permit authorities to channel admissions to specific disciplines.[67] Although Chinese officials resented the public criticism, what Ruth Hayhoe calls the Becker Commission's "authoritarian view of knowledge"[68] found a sympathetic hearing in Nanjing.

Many of the commission's recommendations were adopted over the next three years. Chen Guofu, one of the formulators of Guomindang cultural policy, went even further in proposing in 1932 that in order to "train talent to meet society's needs," China's universities should stop admitting students of the humanities and law for a decade.[69] Serious (if not quite so drastic) reform began that same year under Chen's political protégé, Dr. Zhu Jiahua, who was named minister of education. A German-trained geologist long active in Nationalist developmental policy, Zhu brought to his office both strong scientific and political credentials; he began a restructuring of higher education away from the humanities and social sciences—in which enrollment began to be limited—in favor of science, engineering, and, at the secondary level, vocational training.[70] The 1929 organizational law for Chinese higher education had already required that each university have a school of science, engineering, medicine, or agriculture. Government financial support for these areas now increased markedly. Engineering programs at Jiaotong, National Central, and Qinghua Universities, to name the most prominent, were bolstered in areas of existing strength—civil and mechanical engineering—and supported in the expansion of programs in chemical and electrical engineering. From 1931 to 1936, the percentage of students in fields of science and engineering doubled in government-funded institutions. For the decade as a whole (including the early war years) engineering enrollment trebled. In the same period, the numbers of students enrolled in the arts fell by one-third, and those in law and political science by one-half. These curricular priorities were extended beyond the state sector to private and missionary colleges through a process of regulation and registration that had begun in 1929 but was more consistently enforced after 1932.[71] As Wang Shijie, the former chancellor of Wuhan University who succeeded Zhu as minister of education, would argue, knowledge was to be "harnessed to produce results in connection with the economic development of the country."[72]

The League's influence, like its work in China, was spread over the many different areas in which its Technical Advisory Mission was active. League engineers and funds were focused on specific projects of manageable scale. Their efforts had none of the pretense and grandeur of Sun Yatsen's plan. Never was there articulated a developmental philosophy behind all their activities. There was, however,

a consistent pattern of advice regarding economic, technical, and educational development in favor of a state-managed, centralized approach to economic development emphasizing the promise of scientific and engineering expertise. The League's work could only reinforce the more statist tendencies in the Nanjing regime.

In the end all the League could offer was advice, which the Chinese government could give material form in projects of dam and road construction. The road-building enterprise, ultimately one of the signal material achievements of the Nationalist regime, was predicated on further assumptions regarding China's industrial development, among them—as Sun Yatsen had urged—the creation of a domestic automobile industry. This would be the role of the state-owned China Automobile Manufacturing Company (Zhongguo qiche zhizao gongsi), which began as an assembly operation of diesel trucks on a Daimler-Benz model.[73] To knit China together where roads and railroads could not go would be the task of civil aviation, which by the end of the Nanjing decade, through official joint ventures with Pan American and Lufthansa, would connect China's major cities on regular schedules.[74] Airplanes for these routes were ultimately to have been made in China, by another Sino-foreign joint venture, the China Air Materials Construction Company (Zhongguo hangkong qicai zhizao gongsi).[75] To give China the capacity to produce its own industries, machines, and tools on a world-class scale was the aim of still more ambitious joint ventures: to build a Central Steel Works, a Central Machine Works, and indeed an entire "new industrial center" of state-owned firms in central China.[76] These were to be the driving forces of what by the mid-1930s was increasingly called a "controlled" (tongzhi) economy. All this ambition was in the true spirit of Sun Yatsen. To manage it, however, required a rather different kind of government official than he could have imagined.


Neither the National Reconstruction Commission, in its emphasis on regulation and licensing, nor the National Economic Council, whose efforts concentrated almost exclusively on areas of cooperation with the League of Nations mission, had the independent capacity to lead China's economic development, let alone realize Sun Yatsen's extravagant plans. The same could be said of the National Research Institute (Zhongyang yanjiuyuan, or Academia Sinica), which had been conceived by Sun Yatsen as a scientific academy in the service of the state, but which had no straightforward policy function.[77]

The lack of unified direction did not indicate a lack of talent or expertise. It may be that the policy confusion so apparent to contemporary observers—and explained by later scholars in terms of the "cliques" and "factions" of a terminally disorganized regime—was in part the result of a certain degree of success in the creation of new state institutions to manage a modern economy.[78] Scholars who have worked in the archives of the Nanjing-era Ministries of Railroads and Finance,

for example, have stressed their high degree of technical professionalism and bureaucratization.[79] The official vocabulary for public officials was reformed to reflect areas of competence and to emphasize the interchangeability of individuals: hence the proliferation of terms such as xingzheng renyuan (administrative personnel), caizheng renyuan (financial personnel), and zhiyuan (professional staff) of all sorts.[80] In the mid-1930s a strong "administrative efficiency" movement in Nanjing's ministries, stressing the "scientificization" (kexuehua) of administration and the professionalization of civil service, reflected trends already present in the more technically demanding ministries, such as those of Industry and Finance, which made increasing use of standards set by the Ministry of Personnel and the Examination Yuan in their recruitment procedures.[81] These may have remained, as Julia Strauss has argued, "strong institutions in a weak polity."[82] Indeed their success as professional bureaucracies appears to have been directly related to their degree of insulation from political processes. Among public officials, the perceived gap between political generalists (wenguan, zhengwuguan) and technical, or functional, specialists (gongzhi renyuan, shiwu renyuan) was very large.[83] It follows, then, that these very "modern" and increasingly specialized institutions were not easily mobilized for priorities set by political leadership and were ill suited to interministerial cooperation. (Perhaps this is one reason that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to take a quite different example, which Strauss finds to be "one of the best institutionalized state organizations across the entirety of the Republican period,"[84] earned a high reputation for professionalism while having almost nothing to do with the formulation of foreign policy.)

The growth of specialized bureaucracies reflected the ever greater availability of university and technical school graduates—furthered by the educational reforms of 1932—and their gradual incorporation into government service. It mirrored, too, the participation of professional associations in policy formulation. Take the case of engineers.

A Chinese Society of Engineers (Zhonghua gongchengshi xuehui) had been formed in 1912 with 148 members under Zhan Tianyou (Jeme Tien Yau), the daring chief engineer for the Beijing-Zhangjiakou railroad (completed in 1909), which was the most famous and difficult line built entirely under Chinese auspices.[85] The Society's work of establishing the field in China, standardizing engineering education, and promoting a nationalistic agenda was augmented by the activities of the Chinese Engineering Society (Zhongguo gongcheng xuehui), founded at Cornell University in 1918 by Chinese pursuing advanced engineering studies in the United States. The merger of these two groups in 1931 formed a new Chinese Society of Engineers (Zhongguo gongchengshi xuehui) with some 2,300 members; by 1948 its membership would reach 14,000. The drive toward professional autonomy and self-regulation that had marked the earlier engineering associations gradually gave way to greater cooperation with, and reliance on, the state that now educated and certified engineers.[86] Throughout the period of the National Government, the Society took as its central purposes the development of the Chinese engineering industry

and the realization of Sun Yatsen's Industrial Plan.[87] Its thirteen research groups were headed by leading engineers mostly already in government, such as Shen Yi, chief of public works for the Shanghai municipality, and Yun Zhen, the head of electrical engineering for the National Reconstruction Commission. Over time their work (and indeed the careers of many of them) would be incorporated in and become indistinguishable from the work of the new National Resources Commission, the engineers' stronghold in the National Government.[88]

From Industrial Policy to War Economy. The National Resources Commission stands out as the most comprehensive attempt to apply science and engineering to government work and the unfinished task of "reconstruction." It can be distinguished from other agencies of its day in that it became a highly professional, bureaucratized, politically insulated institution that also served the immediate interests of state leadership. Simply put, the National Resources Commission (NRC) was born of a redefinition of "reconstruction" to favor producer industries and national defense. In the aftermath of the Japanese seizure of Manchuria, industrial policy, which had ranged from electrification to reform in the silk industry, became identical with military-industrial development. China's "international development" came to mean cultivation of the kind of international economic relationships capable of rendering China militarily and industrially self-sufficient—or at least able to defend itself—through the domestic production of steel, machinery, arms, trucks, aircraft, and electrical equipment in the interior.[89]

The aims and methods of the new agency were clear enough in nomenclature: the NRC began in 1932 as a "National Defense Planning Commission" (Guofang sheji weiyuanhui), a team of leading scientists and engineers who built on the research of the Society of Engineers to design defense-related industries. It would become a large bureaucracy controlling most of a growing state industrial sector and the trade mechanisms affecting Sino-foreign cooperation, because, as its later renaming (in 1935) indicates, it was empowered to survey and exploit Chinese natural resources, particularly ores and minerals, for national development and international exchange.[90] Through barter-credit exchanges, it was able to import whole plants and provide for the international training of personnel for its Central Steel Works, Central Copper Works, Central Machine Works, and Central Electrical Manufacturing Works, among other state-owned enterprises.[91]

If the managed economies of interwar Europe were to a considerable degree an elaboration of the experience of the "war economies" in the First World War, [92] the reorganization and growth of economic bureaucracy in China in the mid-1930s was above all preparation for the Second. From a longer perspective this should not surprise us, as military agendas were never far removed from industrial plans in the late Qing and early Republic. What is in retrospect astonishing is that they were almost entirely absent as the rationale for Sun Yatsen's Industrial Plan and very understated in early Nanjing-era reconstruction efforts. But many of those

plans (for example, for roads, railroads, and electrification) had important military dimensions and would be continued under the new industrial bureaucracy. Thus the concept of a massive hydroelectric power station in the Yangzi Gorges—one that might serve a relocated regime in wartime—received its first scientific survey under the Defense Planning Commission in 1932.[93]

The strength and endurance of this bureaucracy over two decades (it became China's largest employer, apart from the army, and outlasted its predecessors, competitors, and even the regime) and the rise of its leaders to high political positions were due to its mission, deemed indispensable to national survival, and to a technocratic arrogance based upon unchallengeable expertise.[94] Led by a respected, incorruptible, and crusty scholar, the geologist Weng Wenhao—who also served as president of the Society of Chinese Engineers—the National Resources Commission was better degreed and otherwise academically certified than any other part of government. In making its first recruits in 1932–33, its National Specialized Talent Investigation Committee compiled data on eighty thousand specialized personnel in China and abroad for potential service in state industry, part of which was later circulated as a "Who's Who of Chinese Engineers." Over the next two decades, as it gained control—through industrial construction and a series of nationalizations—of some 70 percent of all Chinese industry, it would serve as the employer of first choice for a generation of Chinese engineers. It in turn was served by an increasingly complex matrix of science and engineering, recruiting its employees from a science-oriented system of higher education and entering into cooperative research relationships with Beijing, Qinghua, Nankai, and Jiaotong Universities.

In the prewar as in the war years, the NRC was a form of "national service" for Chinese engineers. But quite apart from patriotic motives, in a period of economic depression and government intrusion in the private sector, the NRC was an engineer's salvation. Those hired were paid better (on the same scale as management) and lived under more protected circumstances than employees of any part of the Chinese government. For the NRC was not just a de facto ministry of industry and planning. Its enterprises became comprehensive danwei, or work units, and called themselves such. Housing, dining, shopping, schooling (for employees and their children), banking, recreation, and health facilities were provided for engineers and workers alike. Opportunities for study and internships abroad were available, particularly to junior engineers. Engineers would pursue their work in isolation from the "partification" (danghua) efforts of the Guomindang party-state. Their enterprises would be without party branches until 1943 and under only nominal party supervision thereafter.[95]

Chinese engineers shared with their professional counterparts in other nations a "configuration of faith in science, technology, nationalism and industrialism."[96] To a certain degree NRC engineers, like their predecessors in the National Reconstruction Commission and National Economic Council, played the role, in the Nationalist state, of the tekhnicheskaia intelligentsia of the early Soviet Union, the applied

scientists, engineers, and agronomists who comprised the new elite that Kendall Bailes calls the "technostructure" of the state.[97] This was not at the margin of the state but essential to its purposes. In China, the eventual linkage of "reconstruction" with national security promised to strengthen the security of state and nation while broadly promoting the development of economic infrastructure. The achievements of Nationalist engineers and planners (as in the NRC-orchestrated removal of Chinese industry to the interior at the beginning of the war) and even their unrealized ambitions (as in the revival, with much ballyhoo, of the Three Gorges Dam Project in the 1940s) would lend prestige and a certain legitimacy to the government that sponsored them. Above all China's engineers were essential to Nationalist China's survival in an eight-year war against a technologically superior enemy.[98]


The new National Government had sought to control China's progress from the center; one should try sometime to count the extraordinary number of party and government institutions founded in 1927–28 that began with the term zhongyang, or "central." But in considering the Nanjing regime as an embryonic "developmental state," there is no pretending that a single or coherent developmental strategy existed until the overwhelming threat of war brought military-economic considerations to the center. Over forty years ago Douglas Paauw summed up, quite accurately, the Nationalist approach as one emphasizing "some aspects of the technological preconditions for economic growth."[99] What also existed, however, was an ethos of optimism, not describable or even rational in economic terms, that China could be remade physically, and indirectly economically, by the planned application of international technology under the leadership of homegrown scientific and technical talent. For the new National Government after 1927, economic planning was not just policy: it was gospel and ritual. All arms of government were believers and practitioners. There was, in Sun Yatsen's Industrial Plan, a centrally distributed catechism, but no GOSPLAN. But there was the spirit—captured well in an international textbook of the period—that planning, with its "philosophical faith in the power of scientific research and constructive imagination," offered "a new mode of feeling, life, and living."[100]

"Constructive imagination" was certainly at the heart of Sun's grand project, which proved at once an inspiration and, because it could not possibly be realized, a burden to the National Government. Yet this was a burden undertaken cheerfully by a young and talented (at minimum, well-certified) government that, like Sun, dared to think big: to plan a stunning national capital; to electrify the country and dam the Gorges; to tie the country together in networks of roads; and to build overnight the nation's heavy industries.

The effort to accomplish even part of this required more than Promethean values. It compelled an ideal of professionalism (zhiye zhuyi) in the central government

of a kind that only recently had asserted itself in municipal and provincial affairs.[101] The Nanjing government's very partial success in its economic development plans should not conceal the fact that, in the effort, the purpose and makeup of China's central government underwent an important change. National economic development was now the responsibility of the government—one it would ultimately take seriously enough that it would regulate, control, and finally nationalize almost all industry. The private sphere of economic life was correspondingly constricted. Within the regime, bureaucratic superagencies created to manage the economy, such as the National Reconstruction Commission, National Economic Council, and National Resources Commission (which over time absorbed the projects and personnel of all the others), would create an enduring civilian government in which engineers—those who wanted to build things, get things done—would prevail over economists, who knew how little the government could afford. These institutional foundations and policy preferences would survive largely intact on both sides of the Taiwan Strait at least until the late 1950s.[102]

Lenin had once looked forward to the "very happy time" when politics would "recede into the background" while engineers and agronomists would "do most of the talking."[103] This would occur in neither Russia nor China. By 1937, however, when the Japanese rolled into Nanjing on the new Shanghai-Nanjing road, the retreating Chinese government was quite different from the partyled army that had marched north from Canton a decade earlier. It still was no "technocracy," if by that term we mean a government under the political rule of technical elites.[104] Yet an army of engineers now moved with the seat of government upriver, to Chongqing.



AH Academia Historica, Taiwan
AS Academia Sinica, Taiwan
CASS Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing
GYZL Zhongguo jindai gongyeshi ziliao [Materials on the modern history of Chinese industry],
ed. Chen Zhen. Beijing: Sanlien shudian, 1961.
IMH Institute of Modern History
NA National Archives, Washington, D.C.
NRC National Resources Commission archives
PAC Party Archives Commission of the Guomindang, Taiwan
SASS Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Documentary Collection
SDN Société des Nations [League of Nations] archives, Geneva
SHA Second Historical Archives of China, Nanjing

1. Loren R. Graham, The Ghost of the Executed Engineer: Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), 43. Friends convinced Palchinsky not to mail this letter, but his ideas became well-known. [BACK]


2. The quote is from Wen-hsin Yeh's introduction to this volume. [BACK]

3. Sun Yatsen, The International Development of China (1922; reprint, Taipei: Sino-American Publishing, 1953), 191. [BACK]

4. Thomas G. Rawski, Economic Growth in Prewar China (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989), 116. [BACK]

5. On the culture of urban progressivism in the provinces, see Kristin Stapleton, Civilizing Chengdu: Chinese Urban Reform, 1895–1937 (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, forthcoming). [BACK]

6. Sun, International Development, 192. [BACK]

7. T'ang Leangli, Reconstruction in China (Shanghai: China United Press, 1935). [BACK]

8. The quote is from Sun, preface to International Development, v. Generally, see Michael R. Godley, "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: Sun Yatsen and the International Development of China," Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, no. 18 (July 1987): 109–25. [BACK]

9. See ibid., 119. [BACK]

10. For a review of Republican-era research on Sun's plans, see Zhong Shaohua, "Zhongshan shiye jihua yu Zhongguo xiandaihua" [Sun Yatsen's Industrial Plan and China's modernization (Sun Yatsen University, Gaoxiong)], Zhongshan shehui kexue jikan [Sun Yatsen social science quarterly] 5, no. 4 (December 1990): 134–48. [BACK]

11. Richard Louis Edmonds, "The Legacy of Sun Yatsen's Railway Plans," China Quarterly 111 (September 1987): 442. [BACK]

12. Sun, International Development, 66–67; Hong Qingyu, "A Review of the Work during the Early Stages of the Three Gorges Project," in Megaproject: A Case Study of China's Three Gorges Project, ed. Shiu-hung Luk and Joseph Whitney (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1993). For contemporary debates see Dai Qing et al., Yangtze! Yangtze!, ed. Patricia Adams and John Thibodeau (London: Earthscan, 1994). [BACK]

13. Li Peng, final lines from his "Qinyuan Chun" [Ode to a great river], presented on the occasion of the formal beginning of work on the Three Gorges Project, quoted in Xinmin wanbao (December 15, 1994). [BACK]

14. Lin Jiayou, "Shilun Sun Zhongshan zhenxing Zhongguo shangyede jingji sixiang ji qi yanbian" [The evolution of Sun Yatsen's economic thought regarding the revitalization of China's commerce], Minguo yanjiu [Republican research] 1, no. 1 (1994): 37. [BACK]

15. Jiang Jiwei, "Jishu yu zhengzhi" [Technology and politics], in Xuexi [Study] no. 16 (1957): 12, cited in Li Cheng and Lynn White, "Elite Transformation and Modern Change in Mainland China and Taiwan: Empirical Data and the Theory of Technocracy," China Quarterly, no. 121 (March 1990). [BACK]

16. William C. Kirby, "The Nationalist Regime and the Chinese Party-State, 1928–1958," in Contemporary East Asia in Historical Perspective, ed. Merle Goldman and Andrew Gordon (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000). [BACK]

17. The term "developmental state" is appropriated from Chalmers Johnson's study of Japanese industrial policy of the same and later periods, and is used to stress a common grounding in nineteenth-century continental European neomercantilist conceptions, which, in the Chinese case, combined with inherited traditions of state economic regulation and international models of economic intervention in the 1920s and 1930s to define very broadly the economic purposes of the Nationalist regime. See Johnson, MITI and the Japanese Miracle: The Growth of Industrial Policy, 1925–1975 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1982), 17 ff. This is not to dispute the contention of Douglas Reynolds that the institutional transformation of the Chinese state dates from the xinzheng (New Policy) reforms of

the early twentieth century (see his China, 1898–1912: The Xinzheng Revolution and Japan [Cambridge, Mass.: Council on East Asian Studies, 1993]), but to suggest a selfconscious, developmental mission on the part of the Nationalist regime that distinguishes it from its predecessors. On the Nationalist party-state as the political precondition of its Communist successor, see Robert E. Bedeski, State-Building in Modern China: The Kuomintang in the Prewar Period (Berkeley: Center for Chinese Studies, University of California at Berkeley, 1981). [BACK]

18. Glenn Babb, "Nanking—a City with a Past and a Future," Weekly Review 25, no. 11 (August 11, 1923): 36, cited in Maryruth Coleman, "Municipal Politics in Nationalist China: Nanjing, 1927–1937" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1984), 1. [BACK]

19. See Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking (New York: Basic Books, 1997). [BACK]

20. T'ang Leangli, Reconstruction, 330. [BACK]

21. Coleman, "Municipal Politics," 252. [BACK]

22. Ibid. [BACK]

23. Ibid., 18. [BACK]

24. Guodu sheji jishu zhuanyuan banshichu [Office of Technical Experts for Planning the National Capital], comp., Shoudu jihua [Plan for the capital] (Nanjing: Guodu sheji jishu zhuanyuan banshichu, 1929). [BACK]

25. Ibid., 25–32. [BACK]

26. Ibid., passim. The quotations are from Min-Ch'ien T. Z. Tyau, ed., Two Years of Nationalist China (Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh, 1930), 389–94; see also Coleman, "Municipal Politics," 252–54. The restoration of the Ming city wall—without a highway atop it— would not begin until 1995. New China News Agency report 16 May 1995. [BACK]

27. Coleman, "Municipal Politics," 254. [BACK]

28. As in the case of the Chinese city in Shanghai, which quickly followed Nanjing's model, city planners and public works officials tended to be young university graduates who were "enthusiastic and generally honest." See Christian Henriot, Shanghai, 1927–1937 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), 170. [BACK]

29. Tyau, Two Years, 389, 396–98. [BACK]

30. The quote is from Barry Till, In Search of Old Nanjing (Hong Kong: Joint Publishing Company, 1982), 203. Generally, on the physical state of Nanjing and its official structures in the Nanjing decade, see Xin Nanjing [New Nanjing] (Nanjing: Nanjing shi zhengfu, 1933); Chen Jimin, ed., Minguo guanfu [Republican government offices] (Hong Kong: Jinling shu chubanshe, 1992); and "Nanjing shi zhi jingji jianshe" [Economic development of Nan-jing], in Shinianlai zhi Zhongguo jingji jianshe [China's economic development in the past ten years], comp. Zhongyang dangbu guomin jingji jihua weiyuanhui [Commission on national economic planning of the Central Committee] (Nanjing, 1937). [BACK]

31. Wang Shuhuai, "Jianshe weiyuanhui dui Zhongguo dianqi shiye de guihua" [The National Reconstruction Commission's planning for China's electric power industry] (paper presented to the Conference on the Centennial of Sun Yatsen's Founding of the Kuomintang for Revolution, Taipei, 1994), 5. [BACK]

32. The quote is from ibid., 5. [BACK]

33. V. I. Lenin, "Report of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars on the Home and Foreign Policy to the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets," 22 December 1920, reprinted in V. I. Lenin: Selected Works in Three Volumes, vol. 3 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1977), 461. [BACK]

34. For a selection of Sun's comments on the topic, see Wang Shuhuai, "Jianshe weiyuanhui dui Zhongguo dianqi shiye de guihua," 3–4. [BACK]


35. Yun Chen, "Dianqi wang" [Electrical power network], Jianshe yuekan, no. 9 (October 1930): 37. [BACK]

36. Tyau, Two Years, 289. [BACK]

37. This map unveiling took place at a party congress in 1920. See Alec Nove, An Economic History of the U.S.S.R. (New York: Penguin, 1969), 71. [BACK]

38. Tyau, Two Years, 287; Wang Shuhuai, "Jianshe weiyuanhui dui Zhongguo dianqi shiye de guihua," 10–11; Jianshe weiyuanhui gongzuo jiyao [Summary of the work of the National Reconstruction Commission] (Nanjing: Jianshe weiyuanhui, 1929). [BACK]

39. G. E. Hubbard, Eastern Industrialization and Its Effect on the West (London: Oxford University Press, 1938), 209. [BACK]

40. See William C. Kirby, "China, Unincorporated: Company Law and Business Enterprise in Twentieth-Century China," Journal of Asian Studies 54, no. 1 (February 1995): 43–63. [BACK]

41. SHA 44(2) 78, Chin Fen, "The National Economic Council" (March 1935), 1. [BACK]

42. F. P. Walters, A History of the League of Nations, vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1952. [BACK]

43. Cheryl Payer, "Western Economic Assistance to Nationalist China, 1927–1937" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1971), 9. [BACK]

44. Generally on the League-NEC endeavors, see SHA 44(1719), "Quanguo jingji weiyuanhui gongzuo baogao" [Reports of the work of the National Economic Council], 1934–1937; Zhang Li, "Yijiusanling niandai Zhongguo yu Guolian de jishu hezuo" [China's technical cooperation with the League of Nations during the 1930s], Zhongyang yanjiuyuan jindaishi yanjiusuo jikan [Quarterly of the Institute of Modern History of the Academia Sinica], no. 15 (December 1986): 381–414; Tzehsiun Kuo, "Technical Cooperation between China and Geneva," Information Bulletin 1, no. 6 (July 1936); Lau-King Quan, China's Relations with the League of Nations, 1919–1936 (Hong Kong: Asiatic Litho Press, 1939); Norbert Meienberger, Entwicklungshilfe under dem Völkerbund. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der internationalen Zusammenarbeit in der Zwischenkriegszeit unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der technischen Hilfe an China (Wintherthur, 1965); Jürgen Osterhammel, "‘Technical Cooperation’ between the League of Nations and China," Modern Asian Studies 13, no. 4 (1979): 661–80; Tao Siu, "L'Oeuvre du Conseil National Economique Chinois" (Ph.D. diss., L'Université de Nancy, 1936). [BACK]

45. Terry M. Weidner, "Local Political Work under the Nationalists: The 1930's Silk Reform Campaign," Illinois Papers in Asian Studies, no. 2 (1983): 67. See also Lillian Li, China's Silk Trade: Traditional Industry in the Modern World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), 200. [BACK]

46. Weidner, "Local Political Work," 70. [BACK]

47. Benito Mari, "Summary Report on an Enquiry on the Reorganization of Chinese Sericulture," annex no. 7 in Annexes to the Report to the Council of the League of Nations of Its Technical Delegate on His Mission in China from Date of Appointment until April 1, 1934 (Nanjing, 1934), 231. [BACK]

48. SHA 44(1719), "Quanguo jingji weiyuanhui gongzuo baogao" [Report of the work of the National Economic Council], 1937, 33–40; SHA 44(2) 78, Chin Fen, "The National Economic Council," 67–70; Lau-King Quan, China's Relations, 219–26; Tao Siu, "L'Oeuvre," 73–77. [BACK]

49. Weidner, "Local Political Work," 79. [BACK]

50. See SDN, General 50/R5669–71, Reports of the Engineering Mission of the League of Nations in China, 1932–35. [BACK]


51. Osterhammel, "‘Technical Cooperation,’" 667; J. L. Buck, The 1931 Floods in China (Nanking: Department of Agricultural Economics of the University of Nanking), 1932. [BACK]

52. Arthur Young, China's Nation-Building Effort, 1927–1937: The Financial and Economic Record (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1971), 347. See also 376–86. [BACK]

53. On the maze of regional interests involved in water management, see David Pietz, "The Huai River and Statebuilding in 20th-Century China" (Ph.D. diss., Washington University, 1998). [BACK]

54. Sun, International Development, 192. [BACK]

55. See A. Viola Smith and Anselm Chuh, Motor Roads in China, U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Promotion series no. 120 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931), 2–3, 7, 20 ff. [BACK]

56. Noel Miner, "Chekiang: The Nationalists' Effort in Agrarian Reform and Construction" (Ph.D. diss., Stanford University, 1973), 237. Miner disputes the economic utility of the roads in a curious argument that implies that "passenger traffic," which dominated road use, had no economic value. [BACK]

57. On the economics of roads vs. railroads in China, see Smith and Chuh, Motor Roads, 3–4. [BACK]

58. SDN, General 50/R5669–71, "Engineering Mission of the League of Nations in China, Report No. 7," 7 September 1932, p. 3. [BACK]

59. SDN, General 50/R5669–71, "Engineering Mission of the League of Nations in China, Report No. 8," 19 October 1932, p. 4 and appendix. [BACK]

60. For a review of highway building work through 1935, see SHA 44(1719), "Quanguo jingji weiyuanhui gongzuo baogao" [Report of the work of the National Economic Council], 1935. [BACK]

61. SDN, General 50/R5669–71, report of 19 October 1932, p. 1; report of 10 December 1932, appendix: "Highway Inspection Trip to Hunan Province"; SHA 44(2) 78, Chin Fen, "The National Economic Council," 6–14. [BACK]

62. On the position of some seven hundred Jiaotong graduates in the railway industry, see Chang Juiteh, "Technology Transfer in Modern China: The Case of Railway Enterprise (1876–1937)," Modern Asian Studies (1992). [BACK]

63. SDN, General 50/R5721, "Scheme for the Establishment of an Employment Bureau for Intellectual and Technical Workers." [BACK]

64. "China and International Intellectual Cooperation," Information Bulletin [Council of International Affairs, Nanking] 2, no. 1 (11 September 1936): 1–2. For a broader context see Akira Iriye, Cultural Internationalism and World Order (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), 60–64. [BACK]

65. C. H. Becker et al., The Reorganization of Education in China (Paris: League of Nations Institute of Intellectual Cooperation, 1932). [BACK]

66. Becker et al., Reorganization, 25. Becker was also an orientalist of some note. Other members of the commission were the French Communist Paul Langevin, from the Collège de France; M. Falsky, a Polish specialist in primary education; and R. H. Tawney of the London School of Economics, who used his time in China well, completing the study published as Land and Labor in China (London, 1932; reprint, Boston: Beacon Press, 1962). [BACK]

67. Becker et al., Reorganization, passim; Ernst Neugebauer, Anfänge pädagogische Entwicklungshilfe under dem Völkerbund in China, 1931 bis 1935 (Hamburg: Institut für Asienkunde, 1971); Ruth E. S. Hayhoe, "China's Higher Curricular Reform in Historical Perspective," China Quarterly, no. 110 (June 1987): 202–3. [BACK]


68. Details of the official response are well set out in Stefan Knirsch, "Reformen im chinesischen Erziehungswesen in der Nanjing-Ära" (Magisterarbeit, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, 1995); Hayhoe, "China's Higher Curricular Reform," 203. [BACK]

69. Chen Guofu, "Gaige jiaoyu chubu fangan" [Draft plan for the reform of education], in Chen Guofu xiansheng quanji (Taipei: Zheng Zhong shuju, 1952), 169. [BACK]

70. Zhu Jiahua, Jiuge yue lai jiaoyubu zhengli quanguo jiaoyu zhi shuoming [Explanation of the Ministry of Education's reform of national education in the past nine months] (Nanjing, 1932). [BACK]

71. See the excellent discussion of this process in James Reardon-Anderson, The Study of Change: Chemistry in China, 1840–1949 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 208–29; Hayhoe, "China's Higher Curricular Reform," 402. [BACK]

72. Wang Shijie, "Education," in The Chinese Yearbook, 1937 (Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1937), 1032. [BACK]

73. Gyzl, 3:1102–3. [BACK]

74. See William M. Leafy Jr., The Dragon's Wings: The China National Aviation Corporation and the Development of Commercial Aviation in China (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1976), 13–16; Bodo Wiethoff, Luftverkehr in China, 1928–1949 (Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz, 1975), 104–31; Jack C. Young, "Joint Venture and Licensing in Civil Aviation: A Sino-American Perspective," Stanford Journal of International Studies 15 (1979): 253. [BACK]

75. AH, 2–12.02.I, file, "Zhongguo hangkong qicai zhizao gongsi" [China Air Materials Construction Company] (1934–37); GYZL, 3:921. [BACK]

76. SASS, Ministry of Industry file, "Gongye zhongxin" [Industrial center]: "Guoying gangtiechang" [State-run iron-and steelworks] Ministry of Industry report, August 1932; "Benbu yinianlai choushe guoying gongye gaikuang" [Overview of this ministry's preparations for state-run industry in the past year], March 1933; "Shiyebu chouban guoying gongye" [Ministry of Industry preparations for state-run industries], 1936; GYZL, 3:790–93. [BACK]

77. Guoli Zhongyang yanjiuyuan shiqi niandu zong baogao [Annual report of the Academia Sinica (1928)] (Nanjing: Zhongyang yanjiuyuan, 1929); Lin Wenzhao, "Zhongyang yanjiuyuan de choubei jingguo" [Preparatory process of the establishment of the Academia Sinica], Zhongguo keji shiliao [Historical materials of Chinese science and technology] 9, no. 2 (1988): 70–73; Lin Wenzhao, "Zhongyang yanjiuyuan gaishu" [General description of the Academia Sinica] in Zhongguo keji shiliao [Historical materials of Chinese science and technology] 6, no. 2 (1985): 21–31. An important new study is Shiwei Chen, "Government and Academy in Republican China: History of the Academia Sinica, 1927–1949" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1998). [BACK]

78. On cliques, see, for example, Hungmao Tien, Government and Politics in Kuomintang China, 1927–1937 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1972), 45–72. [BACK]

79. Zhang Ruide [Chang Juiteh], Zhongguo jindai tielu shiye guanli de yanjiu [Research on modern Chinese railway management] (Nangang: Zhongyang yanjiuyuan jindaishi suo, 1991); Julia Strauss, Strong Institutions in Weak Polities: State Building in Republican China, 1927–1940 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998). [BACK]

80. Julia Strauss, "Wenguan (‘Lettered Official’), Gongwuyuan (‘Public Servant’) and Ganbu (‘Cadre’): The Politics of Labelling State Administrators in Republican China," Indiana East Asian Working Paper Series on Language and Politics in Modern China, no. 6 (July 1995). [BACK]

81. Strauss, Strong Institutions, 42. [BACK]

82. Ibid. [BACK]


83. Strauss, "Wenguan." [BACK]

84. Strauss, Strong Institutions, 167. [BACK]

85. Zhong Shaohua, "Zhongguo gongchengshi xuehui jianshi" [Brief history of the Chinese Society of Engineers] (manuscript, 1987); Ralph Heunemann, The Dragon and the Iron Horse (Cambridge: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1984), 69–70. [BACK]

86. In this, the history of Chinese engineering associations would more closely resemble European than American professional associations. On comparative methodological approaches, see Charles E. McClelland, The German Experience of Professionalization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 21; Magali S. Larson, The Rise of Professionalism: A Sociological Analysis (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1977); and Hans Hesse, Beruf und Wandel. Ein Beitrag zum Problem der Professionalisierung (Stuttgart: Enke, 1968). [BACK]

87. Indeed the first suborganization established by the Society was its "Committee for Carrying Out Sun Yatsen's Industrial Development Plan." See Zhong Shaohua, "Zhongguo gongchengshi xuehui jianshi." [BACK]

88. Zhong Shaohua, "Zhongshan shiye jihua yu Zhongguo xiandaihua" [Sun Yatsen's Industrial Plan and China's modernization], Zhongshan shehui kexue jikan [Sun Yatsen social science quarterly (Sun Yatsen University, Gaoxiong)] 5, no. 4 (1990): 134–48; Zhong Shaohua, "Sanshi zhi sishi niandai dui Zhongshan shiye jihua de zhuanmen yanjiu" [Specialized research on Sun Yatsen's industrial plan in the 1930s and 1940s], Beijing shehui kexue [Beijing social science], no. 4 (1986): 107–9. [BACK]

89. See SHA 28(5965), "Zhonggongye jianshe jihua shuomingshu" [Explanation of the plan for heavy industries] (1936). On individual enterprises see Ziyuan weiyuanhui yuekan [NRC monthly] 1, no. 2 (June 1939): 85–100, 158–59, 337; 1, no. 3 (July 1939): 163–66; 2, no. 1 (January 1940): 37 ff; Lianqing zongbu [Combined Services Forces] Library, Taipei, materials on arsenal development filed as "Guofang gongye ji wuqi fazhan" [National defense industries and armaments development] (Taipei, n.d.); CASS, Ziyuan weiyuanhui zongyang jiqichang jianshi [Short history of the NRC's Central Machine Works] (NRC internal draft history, November 1940); SHA, 28(5965) 3, "Guanyu choushe Xiangtan zhongyang gangtiechang zhi bangyue" [On the agreement to establish the Central Steel Works at Xiangtan], June 1936. On the selection of sites for the "national defense center," see Wang Dezhong, "Lun Woguo kangzhang ‘guofang zhongxin’ de xuanze yu xingcheng" [On the selection and formation of the "national defense center" during the war of resistance], Minguo dang'an [Republican archives], no. 1 (1995): 62–70. [BACK]

90. SASS, NRC 47 (4) 0007, Weng Wenhao, "Guofang sheji weiyuanhui zhi mudi ji shuoming" [Goals and clarification of the National Defense Planning Commission], December 1932; SASS, NRC 47 (2) 0018, Weng Wenhao, "Guofang gongye chubu jihua caoan, 1933–1934" [Draft preliminary plan for national defense industry]; SHA 47(32) "Canmo benbu Guofang sheji weiyuanhui mishuting gongzuo baogao" [Work report by the secretariat of the National Defense Planning Commission under the general staff (for 1934)]. [BACK]

91. The fullest documentary description is in SHA 28(5965), "Zhonggongye jianshe ji-hua shuomingshu" [Explanation of the plan for heavy industries] (1936). [BACK]

92. William McNeill, The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society since A.D. 1000 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 345. [BACK]

93. Hong Qingyu, "Sanxia gongcheng qianqi gongzuo" [Early stages of the Three Gorges Project], Zhongguo keji shiliao [Historical materials of Chinese science and technology]

8, no. 3 (1987): 3–10; Huang Shangzuo, "Minguo shiqi kaifa changjiang sanxia shuili ziliao chouhua shimo" [Complete story of planning the Three Gorges project in the Republican era], Zhongguo keji shiliao [Historical materials of Chinese science and technology] 5, no. 3 (1984): 19–27. [BACK]

94. See William Kirby, "Continuity and Change in Modern China: Chinese Economic Planning on the Mainland and on Taiwan, 1943–1958," Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 24 (July 1990). [BACK]

95. Author's interviews with Qian Changzhao, Cao Liying, Yun Zhen, Sun Yunxuan, Huang Hui, Xie Peihe, 1988–93. See, for example, Xiangtan dianjichang, 1936–1986 [Xiangtan electrical machinery plant, 1936–1986] (Xiangtan: Yiangtan dianjichang, 1986), 1–5, a fifty-year retrospective; Zheng Youkui et al., Jiu Zhongguo Ziyuan weiyuanhui [NRC of Old China] (Shanghai: Shanghai shehui kexueyuan, 1991), 302–15; and also Xue Yuexun, "Ziyuan weiyuanhui de rencai peixun" [NRC's nurturing of talent], Guoshiguan guankan [Journal of the Academia Historica], no. 50, 183–214. [BACK]

96. See Kees Gispen, New Profession, Old Order: Engineers and German Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 49. [BACK]

97. Kendall E. Bailes, Technology and Society under Lenin and Stalin: Origins of the Soviet Technical Intelligentsia, 1917–1941 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 15, 418. On engineering and social mobility in the U.S.S.R. (which would make an intriguing study in the Chinese case) see Harley Balzer, "Engineers: The Rise and Decline of a Social Myth," in Science and the Soviet Social Order, ed. Loren R. Graham (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990), 141–67. [BACK]

98. William Kirby, "The Chinese War Economy: Mobilization, Control, and Planning in Nationalist China," in China's Bitter Victory: The War with Japan, 1937–1945, ed. Steven I. Levine and James C. Hsiung (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1992). [BACK]

99. Douglas S. Paauw, "The KMT and Economic Stagnation, 1928–1937," Journal of Asian Studies 16, no. 2 (1957): 214. [BACK]

100. L. L. Lorin, The Problem of Economic Planning (n.p., 1931), 31, cited in G. Chen, "Chinese Government Economic Planning and Reconstruction," in Problems of the Pacific, 1933, ed. B. Lasker and W. L. Holland (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934), 382. [BACK]

101. For example, in the corporatist representation of professional interests in proposed provincial constitutions of the early Republic. See Marie-Claire Bergère, "The Chinese Bourgeoisie," in The Cambridge History of China, vol. 12, pt. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 779–80; Sie Ying-chow, Le fédéralisme en Chine (Paris, 1924). [BACK]

102. See Kirby, "Continuity and Change." If this approach is correct, it of course questions the assumption of Vivienne Shue's stimulating discussion of the modern Chinese state, that the Republican era was "profoundly unstable and hostile to economic and political institutionalization." See Shue, The Reach of the State: Sketches of the Chinese Body Politic (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), 104. [BACK]

103. Bailes, Technology, 459. [BACK]

104. Space precludes an extended discussion of definitions of "technocracy" here. For one approach in a contemporary Chinese context, see Li Cheng and Lynn White, "Elite Transformation and Modern Change in Mainland China and Taiwan: Empirical Data and the Theory of Technocracy," China Quarterly 121 (March 1990): 1–35. [BACK]

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