Foreign Trade and China’s Economic Modernisation

  • Richu Ding
  • Zuwei Shen
Part of the Studies on the Chinese Economy book series


Because modern China’s foreign trade developed against the background of the world capitalist system, while China was a backward and underdeveloped country which had lost its sovereignty, some of its effects were harmful:

Because it lacked the right to impose tariff protection, China’s foreign trade deficit increased over time. At the same time the price scissors existing between the prices of imported industrial products and those of exported farm and sideline products meant that foreign capitalists made large profits from trade, while China’s wealth flowed out of the country. This led to a serious shortfall in the accumulation of money capital, which in turn hindered the progress of industrialisation.

Some foreign imports undermined Chinese indigenous products, thus impoverishing many millions of Chinese farmers and handicraft workers. After its integration into the world economy, Chinese agriculture often suffered from the vagaries of market competition; the decline in the silk and tea trades increased unrest among the producers and caused greater turbulence in Chinese rural society. After the emergence of Chinese national industry, the continued import of competitive foreign products occupied the markets of Chinese goods. To some extent, this competition suppressed the growth of Chinese industry.


Foreign Trade Foreign Firm Silk Fabric Export Trade Industrial Capital 
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  1. 11.
    Jin Jisu, ‘Jiefang qianhou Shanghai jingji diwei he zuoyong de bianhua’, Shehui kexue, 1984.10 (October 1984): 14–19.Google Scholar
  2. 19.
    Chi-ming Hou, Foreign Investment and Economic Development in China ( Cambridge, Mass., 1973), pp. 179–86.Google Scholar
  3. 21.
    See Ernest R. May and John K. Fairbank (eds), America’s China Trade in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, Mass., 1986), pp. 230–3.Google Scholar

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© Tim Wright 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richu Ding
  • Zuwei Shen

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