Research Summary

Buyers, Sellers, Manufacturers in China’s Emerging Market around 1900



Ever since the economic reforms in the post-Mao period China’s economy as an emerging market has attracted much interest. However, we tend to forget that China was already an emerging market at the turn of the 19th century, if not earlier. This book-length study approaches the concept of the emerging market in a broader historical context and explores the opening and growth of the Chinese market in the light of the industrial and commercial modernization taking off around 1900. By analyzing the relationship between Chinese and foreign companies as buyers, sellers, and manufacturers of goods in an evolving consumer market the project identifies the institutional and structural strengths and weaknesses that have shaped the development of firms, entrepreneurs, and their relationship with the state.

The historical approach to understanding China as an emerging market emphasizes how so many institutional, political, and socio-economic phenomena in the present did not originate in the socialist system but can be traced back to the 19th century and beyond. This project also shows how so many issues of concern to participants in China’s emerging market today were similar issues a century ago, ranging from legal disputes, volatile exchange rates to national interest debates. This project shows the strategic responses of Chinese and foreign firms to the opportunities and challenges in an emerging market and its strong interaction with the global economy.