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

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies
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  • 1 University of Central Lancashire

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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.

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    For example, H.J. van de Ven, War and Nationalism in China: 1925–1945 (London: Routledge Curzon, 2003); Morris L. Bian, ‘How crisis shapes change: new perspectives on China’s political economy during the Sino-Japanese War, 1937–1945’, History Compass, Vol. 5, No. 4 (2007), pp. 1091–110; Pavel Osinsky, ‘Modernisation interrupted? Total war, state breakdown, and the Communist conquest of China’, The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 51 (2010), pp. 576–599.

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  • 7

    Suisheng Zhao, A Nation-state by Construction: Dynamics of Modern Chinese Nationalism (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2004), pp. 79–80.

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  • 8

    S. Bernard Thomas, Season of High Adventure: Edgar Snow in China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), pp. 219–220.

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    Hugh Deane, Good Deeds and Gunboats: Two Centuries of American Chinese Encounters (San Francisco: China Books and Periodicals, 1990), p. 110.

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  • 11

    Andrew J. Nathan, A History of the China International Relief Commission. (Cambridge, Mass.: East Asian Research Center, Harvard University, 1965), p. 70.

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  • 13

    Fang Xianting (H.D. Fong), The Cooperative Movement in China (Tientsin, China: The Nankai Institute of Economics, 1934), pp. 18–22.

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    Carl Riskin, China’s Political Economy: The Quest for Development since 1949 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 20.

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    Stephen R. MacKinnon, Wuhan, 1938: War, Refugees, and the Making of Modern China (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2008), pp. 90–91.

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  • 21

    Rewi Alley, Rewi Alley: An Autobiography (Beijing: New World Press, third edition, 1997), pp. 110–111.

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    George Hogg, I See a New China (London: Victor Gollancz, 1945), pp. 71–78; Graham Peck, Two Kinds of Time (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008), p. 172. Hogg became headmaster of the Shuangshipu and, later, the Shandan Bailie schools.

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  • 34

    Hilda Selwyn-Clarke, Gung Ho! (London: The Cooperative Party, 1952), p. 29.

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    Rewi Alley, Yo Banfa (Shanghai: China Monthly Review Press, 1952), p. 95.

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    Both were to be revived in the 1980s. Jenny Clegg and Ian Cook, ‘Gung Ho in China: towards participatory co-operatives’, Journal of Co-operative Studies, Vol. 42, No. 3 (2010).

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