War Finance and Logistics in Late Imperial China

A Study of the Second Jinchuan Campaign (1771–1776)


In his book War Finance and Logistics in Late Imperial China, Ulrich Theobald shows how the Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911) overcame the tyranny of logistics and successfully enlarged the territory of its empire. A detailed analysis of the long and expensive second Jinchuan war (1771 – 1776) in Eastern Tibet demonstrates that the Chinese state ordered its civilian officials as well as the common people, merchant associations, and different ethnic groups to fulfil and to foot the bill for the “common cause”. With increasing military success the state gradually withdrew from its responsibilities, believing that a War Supply and Expenditure Code (Junxu zeli) might offset the decreasing skill in and readiness to imperial leadership.

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Ulrich Theobald, Ph.D. (2009) in Chinese Studies, Tübingen, is a Lecturer for Chinese History and Classical Chinese at Tübingen University. He has published on military labour, border peoples, and Chinese empresses, and owns the online encyclopedia www.chinaknowledge.de.
"With these three absorbing chapters, well supported by an impressive range of both primary and secondary sources, this book contributes to studies of Qing history in many different ways. Theobald convincingly demonstrates not only the centrality of finance and war logistics in Qing military campaigns during the Qianlong reign, but also their essential role in shaping the political and military culture of the Qing state. This book also presents an excellent case study for global comparisons of economies and state capabilities in the early modern and modern periods. (...)Theobald reservedly muses in the acknowledgements that war finance and logistics are a “somewhat dry subject matter” (p. xii). But they are anything but a dry subject matter. What this study shows is the richness of the topic, the depth of the source material, and great potential to inspire new questions."- HASEGAWA MASATO, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Monumenta Serica 68:1, 272-275, DOI: 10.1080/02549948.2020.1748313
All interested in the military, social, and economic history of the Qing empire, but also anyone concerned with the practical organisation of military campaigns in the past.
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