This article discusses China’s attempts to industrialize from the late nineteenth century until the Japanese occupation of 1937. It focuses on the woollen industry and uses data from industrial investigations, market information and company archives. Several attempts to build a woollen industry from the 1880s to the end of the First World War failed. However, in the 1920s and 1930s some private companies in Tianjin, Shanghai and the Yangzi Delta succeeded in managing profitable woollen workshops and mills. An export-based carpet industry was developed in Tianjin while a network of workshops and integrated mills flourished in Shanghai and the Yangzi Delta to supply woollen goods for civilian clothing in the Chinese urban markets. This article aims to contribute to the debate of China’s late industrialization by looking at the structure of the woollen industry and its alignment with actual consumer demands.
Cet article traite des tentatives d’industrialisation de la Chine de la fin du XIXe siècle jusqu’à l’occupation japonaise de 1937. Il se concentre sur l’industrie de la laine et utilise des données provenant d’enquêtes industrielles, d’études sur le marché et d’archives d’entreprises. Ce secteur n’a pas fait l’objet de recherches de la part des historiens économiques de la Chine car sa taille est restée modeste bien qu’il ait joué un rôle important dans la transformation des codes vestimentaires et de la mode en Chine républicaine. L’article propose une explication de l’industrialisation tardive de la Chine axée sur la demande, à la différence des principaux ouvrages sur le sujet, qui traitent de la capacité de production industrielle de la Chine.
L’article analyse plusieurs tentatives d’implantation d’industries lanières en Chine à partir de 1880. Les régions du nord de la Chine semblaient avoir un bon potentiel d’industrialisation, étant donné l’abondance de la laine brute et le faible coût de la main-d’œuvre. Mais toutes ces tentatives ont échoué et, avant la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale, l’industrie de la laine en Chine était pratiquement inexistante. L’article fournit une explication alternative raisons de cet échec basée sur la demande du marché chinois et les types de produits que ces usines fabriquaient. Les produits en laine n’étaient pas populaires dans le nord de la Chine parce que la population chinoise n’utilisait traditionnellement pas la laine pour s’habiller. Par conséquent, les usines de laine produisaient des biens, tels que des fils de laine grossière, qui ne faisaient pas l’objet d’une demande spécifique.
Cependant, dans les années 1920 et 1930, certaines entreprises privées de Tianjin, Shanghai et du delta du Yangzi ont réussi à gérer des ateliers et des usines de laine rentables. L’article compare leurs performances et analyse comment ces usines ont réussi à produire d’autres types de produits. Tout d’abord, les laines finies utilisant des fils importés, qui ont trouvé une demande concrète chez les consommateurs urbains de la Chine, en particulier à Shanghai. Deuxièmement, une industrie de fabrication de tapis axée sur l’exportation qui a prospéré à Tianjin pour approvisionner les exportateurs américains. Ces entreprises industrielles n’ont pas été construites à partir de rien mais ont profité d’un réseau de petits et moyens ateliers apparus pendant la Première Guerre mondiale, profitant de l’arrêt du commerce avec les pays belligérants. Ce réseau de finisseurs et de sous-traitants de Shanghai et de Tianjin est devenu une dimension importante de l’industrie lainière et a adopté différentes formes de production en fonction du caractère flexible des marchés lainiers.
Au cours des années 1920 et 1930, une industrie du tapis basée sur l’exportation s’est développée à Tianjin tandis qu’un réseau d’ateliers et de moulins intégrés s’est développé à Shanghai et dans le delta du Yangzi pour fournir des articles en laine destinés aux vêtements civils. Pendant ce temps, les exportations de la laine brute excédentaire de la Chine augmentent pour approvisionner les industries lainières des États-Unis, d’Europe et enfin du Japon. Ainsi, les économies régionales de la Chine se sont progressivement intégrées dans l’économie mondiale.
La croissance des marchés urbains de la Chine dans les années 1930 a créé de nouvelles opportunités pour l’industrie de la laine qui a connu des niveaux élevés de croissance jusqu’à l’invasion de la Chine par les Japonais. Entre 1931 et 1937, les grandes entreprises lainières chinoises ont réussi à construire des usines qui ont réussi à produire des produits à la fois grossiers et de qualité. Cependant, ces industries n’ont prospéré qu’après la consolidation d’un réseau d’ateliers de sous-traitance de petites et moyennes entreprises. Ce réseau contribuait aux dernières étapes du processus de production, connaissant les tendances du marché et les produits qui étaient demandés tant sur les marchés urbains chinois que chez les exportateurs. La grande industrie qui a émergé à Shanghai et à Tianjin a collaboré de manière systématique avec ces ateliers avec des accords de commission ou de sous-traitance. Certains de ces petits ateliers ont évolué et sont devenus de plus grandes entreprises industrielles produisant des fils de laine et des tissus.
Toutefois, les affaires liées à l’approvisionnement des marchés urbains de la Chine et des exportateurs de Tianjin était limitées, surtout par rapport aux dimensions de la Chine et du reste de la population chinoise, qui restait peu familiarisé avec les produits en laine. Par conséquent, la taille de ce secteur est restée faible dans l’économie chinoise même s’il est devenu très rentable dans les années qui ont précédé la guerre contre le Japon. En conclusion, l’article indique que l’industrialisation de la Chine n’a pas pu pas devenir un phénomène général, dans la mesure où la majorité de la population vivait dans des régions isolées sans accès, ni moyens d’acheter des biens industriels. Toutefois, cette condition préalable n’a pas empêché la croissance de l’industrie pour des marchés limités, comme le démontre le cas de l’industrie de la laine. Plutôt que par des contraintes institutionnelles, l’échec de l’industrialisation précoce de la Chine serait alors causé par une mauvaise orientation du marché soutenue par l’idée (fausse) que la population chinoise était prête à consommer des produits industriels.
This article analyzes the development of the modern woolen industry in China. This industry has barely attracted academic attention because the woolen sector remained modest in the Qing and Republican times until the eve of the Japanese occupation, especially compared to other textile industries such as cotton and silk.1 However, the modernization of dress codes in China cannot be understood without woolen goods. The cloth manufactured in wool is an essential part of the Western outfit: suits, gabardines, pants, sweaters and complements (knitting products, underwear, hosiery, hats, scarves, etc.) are made of wool or mixed with wool. The adoption of foreign-style clothes by the Asian urban population in the late 1920s and 1930s was a social transformation, and it depended more on the woolen sector than on other industries, including cotton or silk.2 However, by the mid-1930s, the spinning capacity of the woolen industry in China was marginal compared to the rest of the textile industry, representing less than 5 per cent of the cotton industrial capacity.3
The lack of interest in the Chinese woolen industry may well be a consequence of prioritizing the supply side and big industry that has dominated the Chinese economic history. Because the woolen industry did not have an important share in the aggregate data of China’s industrial production, economic historians have neglected it. Furthermore, while the adoption of Western clothing by the Chinese urbanites has a rich literature in the history of consumption and fashion, no studies connect this transformation with the raise of the Chinese textile industry. However, both strands of research detect the mid-1920s and 1930s as a period of booming of urban consumption as well as of industrial growth.4 This article hypothesizes that during these decades the woolen sector was able to satisfy China’s urban markets as well as an export demand for carpets. But the growth of the woolen industry started with small and medium workshops while big spinning mills appeared only when industrialization was already taking off. Subcontracting relations in the last stages of the production process were key to understand this evolution.
This article uses data from several investigations on the woolen industry from late Qing and Republican China, especially in Shanghai and Tianjin, the two centers of woolen production in China.5 It also gathers personal data from industrial entrepreneurs, local archives of woolen companies and press articles on China’s consumption markets. It considers both earlier industrial firms that failed and more successful cases of a later period, trying to decipher the reasons of both outcomes. By looking at this unequal performance in a sectorial perspective, this article aims to theorize about China’s slow and irregular industrialization during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It observes the development of the woolen industry as a demand phenomenon, pushed forward by consumption and by a network of intermediate agents, workshops and subcontractors that connect mass-producing factories with consumers.6 The conclusion is that the woolen industry in China took off when companies were able to satisfy some niche market demands which were marginal in comparison with the total population of China. Therefore, in a broader sense, this paper tries to rethink the scale of success of China’s late industrialization.
ISOLATED INDUSTRIAL SPOTS: WOOLEN MILLS IN CHINA, 1880-1920
China had huge territories with plenty of sheep pasture in the Western regions (in nowadays Xinjiang, Qinghai, Tibet and Inner Mongolia) but, from ancient times, the Chinese population did not find woolen products attractive for clothing.7 The basic skills of manual wool spinning and weaving were known about since ancient times in Western China and were not very different from those used in Europe.8 However, before the Opium Wars, most of the Chinese han population did not know that sheep wool could be used for textile purposes.9 While in Europe – from Russia to Spain – wool was widely consumed as a clothing fiber for centuries, in China this type of product was reduced to the nomadic minorities of the West and was not adopted by the majority of the Chinese population. The sheep of Tibet, Xinjiang and Mongolia were used for edible purposes and for the limited and dispersed markets of the Western nomad populations. In these regions, raw wool, furs and fibers were used for stuffing winter cloth and for producing vast goods such as rugs and carpets.10 Therefore, when the foreign traders settled in China after the Opium Wars, they noticed the existence of a surplus of wool and the lack of a market of woolen manufactured goods.
When Tianjin became a treaty port in 1860, raw wool from China’s Western frontier regions was found to be an interesting bulk good for export. American companies soon dominated the export business while the Chinese merchants acted as traders and middlemen (they were called compradores) between the distant wool producing regions and the foreign purchasers that settled in Tianjin.11 Trade started from nothing and amounted to two million haikwan tael (HKT) in 1894.12 From the beginning, the exports of wool were concentrated in the city of Tianjin and the United States was the main destination, keeping a share of 70 per cent of all woolen exports until the eve of the Japanese occupation in 1936. The exports of wool from the city of Shanghai or Chongqing also had the United States as major destination.13 The Chinese wool was used for manufacturing carpets (some of them were used as cover carpets for the Pullman cars of American railways) and China became the first provider of wool of the United States.14
Due to the distance between Tianjin and China’s nomad regions, the number of middlemen was high and wools often came adulterated with impurities. The Xining wool for instance, travelled by yak from the mountains of Tibet and by horses, donkeys and camels until reaching the city of Lanzhou in the Gansu province. From there, the wool could be transported by raft through the Huanghe River or by camel until it reached the train station of Baotou.15 The well-known American sinologist Owen Lattimore (1900-1989) worked in Tianjin as a clerk for a woolen company in Tianjin that tested the raw materials that were brought by Chinese traders from Mongolia and Xinjiang.16 The American exporting firms – that sold to the US on a cleaned basis – installed some cleansing, testing and hydraulic plants for the treatment of wool in Tianjin.17 But these firms were not interested in spinning or weaving.
In 1882, an occasional correspondent in Shanxi for the North China Herald reported that woolen industries had a great potential of development in the interior of China with promises of high profits, given the large quantities of raw material, the lack of industries and the long distance that traders had to make in order to sell the wools in Tianjin.18 In September 1880, the general, Zuo Zongtang (1812-1885), after having defeated the Muslim rebellions that threatened the Qing dynasty, put to work 880 woolen spindles, 22 velvet looms (an investment of 200,000 tael) and two motors in a woolen factory in the city of Lanzhou (Gansu). This first woolen mill had the mission of providing woolen yarns and cloth for the army in the Western regions, including Xinjiang and Tibet.19 Thirteen German engineers and a heavy cargo of machineries were transported – not without serious difficulties – from Shanghai to the remote city of Lanzhou, while tons of wools arrived from the nearby regions and also from the more distant Mongolia and Qinghai.20 This was the first attempt to modernize the woolen production in China and it was a total disaster: the mill closed down two years after its inauguration, reporting heavy losses to the Qing state which was the main investor. In 1888, the US traveler and diplomat William W. Rockhill (1854-1914) contemplated the abandoned mill in Lanzhou and attributed its failure to “carelessness and rascality”.21 Other commentators attributed transport difficulties and the lack of know-how in the use of machinery as probable causes that hindered this first industrial endeavor.22 Finally, another expert opinion signaled the fact that there was no consumers ready to buy industrial raw woolens in Gansu, a part from the army.23
After the Japanese victory against the Qing Empire in 1895, there were three major Chinese projects to build woolen factories in Beijing, Hankou and Shanghai. These companies also faced serious difficulties being forced to shut down short afterwards. Again, the big losses were attributed to the lack of know-how and to the characteristics of the Chinese wool, not suitable for industry.24 One of these failed woolen mills was built by Zheng Xiaoxu (1860-1938) a diplomat and calligrapher that was appointed secretary of the Chinese legation in Japan in 1891. In 1907, Zheng Xiaoxu retired from the civil life and engaged in the private business in Shanghai.25 He partnered with officials from the military administration and founded the Rihui Woolen Company in Shanghai raising a capital of 500,000 tael with the purpose of buying 1,750 spindles for coarse woolen yarn, 44 automatic looms and a full finishing set for dyeing.26 In January 1909, the company started to produce a kind of coarse tweed (cufang huani) and Zheng Xiaoxu was appointed general manager, being in charge of a dozen Belgium engineers that were recruited as experts.27 Again, despite this expertise and the fact that Rihui had secured contracts to the military schools for manufacturing uniforms, the company suffered heavy losses and closed down in 1910. Some commentators suggested that this failure may be attributed to the impossibility to compete with foreign imported products that were on sale in the center of the International Concessions.28
Indeed, Rihui’s main competitors were the woolen goods that were imported by the foreign companies and sold in the retail and distribution shops of “foreign cloth” that appeared in Shanghai from the mid XIX Century.29 Woolen goods were among the most important products that the British traders tried to sell in China, besides opium and cotton yarn. Indeed, wool cloth was the most genuinely British product that was imported in China.30 But their sales never reached the expected volumes that were sometimes calculated according to the population of China, the cherished “400 million customers”.31 Foreign cloths were purchased in auctions by Chinese merchants that sold them in the center of the International Concessions of Shanghai, near Nanjing Road, where the business of foreign cloth was undertaken.32 Of course, the quality of these products, made in the West with foreign wools and with all the industrial expertise, was higher than the goods offered by Rihui. Adding to this problem, the main source of revenue of Rihui came from the contracts from the army, but this source of revenue became highly unstable at the eve of the Republican Revolution. Zheng Xiaoxu was appointed governor of Hunan in the summer of 1911, where he participated in the nationalization of railways, which provoked the Republican Revolution and the overthrow of the Qing dynasty. Zheng Xiaoxu never recognized the new Republic and retired again from the civil service, even though he would have another comeback as it will be referred later.33 Indeed, securing contracts with the army in the chaotic political arena of late Qing and early Republican China was not a guarantee of success.
The foreign interest in the raw wools from Northern and Western China increased as the Qing regime collapsed, and these vast territories were left in a power vacuum. Between 1909 and 1914 the trade of Chinese and Mongol wool that entered Russia through Kiachta trebled; meanwhile, Kalgan (modern day Zhangjiakou, Hebei province) and Baotou (nowadays Inner Mongolia) prospered as trade hubs for the wools en route to be exported in Tianjin. In addition to the American presence, a keen competition between Russian and British interests ensued, putting pressure to the wool producing regions of Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang.34 The increase of the demand drove up the price of Mongolian and Tibetan wool that doubled in the ten years (1905-15). With the clash of the First World War and the need of clothing the European armies during the winter, the trade in raw wool for export in Tianjin turned into a craze, showing high price volatility.35 Japan also ambitioned the Chinese wools from the Northeast regions, where the South Manchuria Railway Company tried to improve the sheep rearing and wool cleansing for exporting to Osaka, the center of the Japanese woolen industry that supplied the army.36 Of course, the competition was aggravated by the Russian revolution and the Civil War that spread in Siberia in the winter of 1917.
Meanwhile, Yu Qiaqing (1867-1945) – a Chinese merchant from Ningbo with experience working in foreign companies and dealing with foreign trade in Shanghai (these merchants were often called compradores) – tried to rebuild Rihui profiting from the slowdown of woolen imports that was caused by the First World War.37 In August 1915, Yu Qiaqing met with other investors in the French Concession to create a new company: China Woolen Company Number One. This name seems to state explicitly that the woolen industry before 1915 was nonexistent. Before 1913 only seven registered industrial companies were dedicated to wool manufacturing in China, while silk reeling industry had 97 firms and cotton spinning and weaving 49 companies.38 This new company bought the machinery of Rihui but, instead of looking through the official channels to secure contracts with the army, it contacted private distributors of foreign clothes that were purchasing all kind of cloths from foreign importers in Shanghai. The clash of the First World War had left them with no stocks, even though the demand of these products was rising.39
China Number One developed intimate relations with the big cloth distributors named “hao”, such as the Hengfenghao, one of the first Chinese companies to sell foreign clothes in the International Concessions of Shanghai.40 This type of companies used to take care of the last steps of the production process: the finishing (dyeing, calendaring) and the distribution and retail trade often with a subcontract from the big cotton and silk industries. In the cotton sector, they played a key role as investors, especially in the beginning of industrialization, even though they have not received too much academic attention.41 The main market of imported woolen yarns and cloths developed in the Eastern part of the French Concession, near the Huangpu River, in the small alleys that stand in-between what is today Jinling Road and Renmin Road.42 The headquarters of China Number One were also placed in Shanghai’s French Concession, to facilitate contacts with the network of wool finishers and retailers.43 This network allowed China Number One to be more flexible and adaptable to the local urban taste in a market that was becoming more nationalistic. China Number One launched a national brand of woolen cloth that looked modern and sophisticated, enriching the existing market of imported woolens and imitations of foreign cloth.44
China Number One differed from the past industrial endeavors because Yu Qiaqing realized that the competition in the woolen goods was being played in the urban markets in close contact with this network of finishers and retailers. The quality of their products was not up to international standards but goods on sale were nevertheless cheaper and more adapted to the urban consumers than the previous attempts. China Number One tried to improve the quality of the knitting yarn (maorong) by updating the machinery, despite the difficulties of importing technology during the First World War.45 However, to spin fine woolen yarn, the company had to use fine woolens that had been cleansed, something that was not available in Shanghai at that moment. The difficulties of finding raw materials and an adequate technology made China Number One a failed project. As a result, only two running woolen industrial mills stood in China in 1919.46
The abundant stocks of Chinese wool kept attracting the interest of foreign powers. The Japanese demand for wool expanded from the Northeast regions and Shandong. The port of Qingdao became the main export base for the Chinese wool to Japan countering Tianjin, which was dominated by Western traders. In 1921, 80 per cent of China’s registered production of wool was exported (45 per cent from Tianjin and 35 per cent from Qingdao) and only a 20 per cent was consumed locally.47 In the following years, China’s exports of raw wool increased in absolute and relative terms and wool became one of the major commodities that China exported along with other goods such as silks, tea, beans, raw cotton, eggs, vegetable oils and animal furs.48 As China was exporting more raw materials, some Chinese nationalists complained about the exploitative character of foreign trade, especially when imports of manufactured wools boomed suddenly in the mid-1920s, in response to the growing urban fashion. According to Ye Zixiu, the woolen sector demonstrated the imperialistic character of China’s foreign trade, which had specialized in selling “crude products” (shenghuo) at a low price and buying “cooked products” (shuhuo) at high prices. This meant to give up the margins and the value added for the foreign companies, while condemning the Chinese economy to a state of backwardness.49 Some nationalist leaders feared that the transformation of dress codes and the growing importance of wool would have a devastating effect on China’s domestic industries that were traditionally based on cotton and silk.50
But this perception was not exact. Between 1919 and 1925, dozens of industrial mills, some of them foreign-owned, appeared in Beijing, Tianjin, Harbin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Lanzhou, Wuhan and Taiyuan, profiting from the cheapness of labor, and the facilities for importing machineries after the war. In 1918, the Japanese South Manchuria Railway joined Chinese and Japanese capital to build a woolen factory named Manmo Keori Kabushiki Kaisha with 7,200 spindles and 165 looms for weaving. Such an investment was higher than the sum of all previous industrial woolen companies put together.51 The main factory opened in Mukden (nowadays Shenyang, in the Northeast province of Liaoning) and commercial branches were established in Tianjin and Shanghai. Short afterwards two industrial companies opened in Harbin: a Sino-Russian firm and a mill specialized in producing cheap and coarse yarns opened by the Chinese warlord Zhang Zuolin (1875-1928). According to an investigation of 1925, 24 industrial factories in China were engaged in wool, of which 13 had registered capital that totaled 14.1 million tael. The Japanese factory of Mukden, with a registered capital of 10 million, while the rest of them had an average capital of 350,000 tael.52 But most of these companies, especially the ones in the Northern regions, were isolated from the consumption markets and kept producing coarse products for the military forces of Japan, the warlords or Russia.53 In fact, the Japanese firm incurred in heavy losses due to the weakness of sales.54 Up to 1921 the Japanese government ensured a fixed dividend of six per cent annually but then an annual subsidy of 150,000 yens was enforced to keep the company alive.55 In 1924, a foreign correspondent in Harbin observed that the demand of woolen manufactured goods among the local population of the Northeast had not risen, despite the hard winter cold and the lack of competition.56 Most of these companies that appeared in North and Northeast China during this period abandoned the production of cloth and ended up making carpets and rugs for the foreign markets.57
Looking at China’s failure to industrialize in this period, historians often rely on institutional and ideological factors such as low labor productivity, the state’s attitude towards private firms or the lack of raw materials, capital or technical know-how.58 However, when analyzing concrete case studies in the woolen industry other factors arise, such as the lack of sales, no matter how huge the market in China was considered. The problem of the Chinese woolen industry seemed not to be in the imperialist character nor on the lack of capital. It was on the patterns of consumption of the Chinese population that did not buy industrial goods or, at least, the kind of goods that were supplied by these mills. The products made in the Chinese woolen mills were too coarse to compete in the urban markets and too urban (or too expensive) to be considered a feasible choice by the rest of the population. Woolen mills were built in different institutional frameworks such as the International Concessions of Shanghai, Beijing, Lanzhou and the Northeast regions that were progressively controlled by Japan. Besides, the part of labor in the production cost was marginal and the raw material was cheap and available, even though its quality was not high. The woolen firms hired foreign engineers while the Japanese firms had already demonstrated their technical skills. However, it seems that woolen mills were isolated spots without a network of workshops, distributors, exporters or retailers that could adapt their production to consumer markets. From the mid-1920s, this structural problem started to change, allowing the woolen companies to become more profitable. In conclusion, it was the characteristics of the Chinese market, highly divided between a minority of urban consumers and a huge majority of Chinese peasants what mattered in the performance of the woolen sector. Some academics have defined this situation as a “dual market”, where isolated spots of urban consumption stood in sharp contrast with the rest of the Chinese rural population.59
WORKSHOPS, SUBCONTRACTORS AND MARKETS IN THE 1920S
By the mid-1920s, Shanghai and the Yangzi Delta experienced an unprecedented process of industrialization.60 Textile industries accounted for most of this growth with more than 40 per cent of the total of China’s industrial output in the 1930s. Cotton spinning mills became especially visible and have received most of the academic attention.61 However, small and medium workshops cohabited with big industrial groups who subcontracted the final stages of production (finishing, dyeing, sewing, distribution) to workshops that mixed different fibers, including wool. This finishing industry flourished when Western garments became popular, allowing the woolen sector to prosper.
The fashion magazines of that period show us that consumer tendencies in the urban markets of China were going in the opposite direction from the woolen manufacturers focusing on coarse goods. In the mid-1920s, finer woolen goods were getting fashionable in the Chinese cities:62 Chinese modern women incorporated hosiery and knitting products such as jerseys, socks and sweaters while men in the coastal cities wore Western suits that were made of imported worsted yarn.63 In Shanghai’s summer heat, young urban men dressed the so-called “chimney pipe” woolen pants to impress women, as this kind of outfit made them look modern, literati, travelled and rich.64 Even Sun Yatsen’s nationalist suit that was popularized in the mid-1920s was originally weaved in fine wools, a material that China at that time was not able to produce.65 The market of woolen goods in China became an epitome of China’s dual market, polarized between coarse products (cufang), mainly big coats and army uniforms, and fine products (jingni) of foreign origin, mainly for civilian consumers.66
A Chinese manufacturer aiming to enter the high market of woolen goods faced the problem of raw materials. High quality wool was out of reach as sheep rearing areas were far from the urban centers and out of the control of the manufacturers. However, after the First World War, an easy method to imitate foreign products was implemented by the new woolen companies of Shanghai and the Yangzi Delta. These firms bought imported yarns to weave and knit final goods. Shanghai and the cities of the Yangzi Delta became the center of this new industry.67 In sharp contrast to silk and cotton, the production was concentrated on a network of workshops that used and mixed wool, cotton and rayon yarns to make all kinds of cloth (hosiery, sweaters, pants, scarves, gloves, socks and caps) that imitated foreign styles but adapting them to the Chinese local taste. The size of these working units was small. In Shanghai, the average employees per factory in the cotton sector was 635 persons while in the wool spinning and weaving the average was only 100 persons. However, woolen and cloth finishing workshops had the lowest average of persons employed by factory in the whole textile sector, with only 32 persons per unit.68
These workshops had a flexible method of employing, as the wool business is highly seasonable. They developed a contractual relationship with small retailers and department stores, either selling on their own account or receiving yarn and sewing machines in exchange of piece goods.69 The system of production was a variant of the so-called “merchant employer system” that was defined by the Chinese economist H. D. Fong (Fang Xianting, 1903-1985), where the trader would give yarn and machinery to the producer in order to get the piece cloth in exchange. The knitting machines and yarns, that were imported from abroad, were provided by the merchant, normally a compradore with access to foreign companies, to the knitter who could work on his own account or in a workshop, where he would employ family members, especially when orders peaked.70 Knitting workshops flourished in the outskirts of the cities where the rents were lower but were also engaged in retail sales in the urban center through commercial agents or “miniature department stores” (duhuopu).71 Yarn retailers were concentrated in the International Concession of Shanghai and the industrial towns surrounding them, but cloth stores were widespread in the city, as they had to stand as close as possible to the final consumer. In 1934, the woolen yarn and cloth stores in Shanghai outnumbered the silk cloth shops, showing a clear change in the consumer habits of the population, from the traditional to the modern way of clothing.72
Other Chinese economists like D. K. Lieu (Liu Dajun, 1891-1962) also noticed that the small and medium companies and workshops with this flexible system of employment performed better and were more resistant to the crisis that periodically hit the Chinese textile sector.73 Indeed, hosiery and knitted products was the first textile sector introduced from the West that was substituted by the Chinese domestic production, well before the cotton and wool spinning, whose imports (in value) reached its peak in 1920 and 1929, respectively, while the value of imports of hosiery started to decline after 1917, thanks to the low price of the knitting machines and the flexible character of the merchant employer system.74
The emergence of this network of finishing workshops in Shanghai had several consequences: first it meant the momentary extinction of China’s industrial spinning of coarse woolen yarn for non-carpet products, which almost disappeared in 1929.75 Therefore, the traditional indicator for quantifying industrial growth in the textile industry, which is the number of industrial spindles, is not adequate in the woolen sector. Second, the growth of wool finishers naturally raised the imports of woolen yarns. Before the First World War, the imports of woolen yarns were marginal and limited to home knitting, an activity that was encouraged, without too much success, by the missionary societies.76 However, after the war, the imports of woolen yarn skyrocketed to fulfill the demand of these workshops. The value and quantity of imported woolen yarns increased by a factor of one to 10 between 1919 and 1929, reaching 15 million HKT just before the imposition of import taxes by the Guomindang government.77 The third consequence follows logically: by contrast to the past experiments, the knitting and woolen industries in Shanghai and the Yangzi Delta were detached from the production of wool in China’s Western regions, and more connected to the global markets of yarn and to the international world of fashion magazines. Therefore, the woolen industry of the Yangzi Delta was not only delivering modern goods, but leading Shanghai and its surrounding region towards a major integration to the international markets.78
Tianjin experienced a similar development but with some differences.79 In 1929, the city had 154 workshops of hosiery knitting with 1,610 indoor workers and 569 outworkers who finished clothes. Two thirds of the outworkers were unmarried young women that were also engaged in retail sales.80 The finished hosiery and knitted goods were sold in the city of Tianjin to the retail shops and distributor stores. However, in contrast to the knitting and hosiery workshops of Shanghai, an imitation of the fine imported woolen yarns came with the ‘camel yarns’ (called tuorong) that were made from Bactrian camel, an animal indigenous from Central Asia that was widely used by the caravans in Mongolia and the Silk Road. Between 1925 and 1935, tons of camel yarns were transported from these regions to Tianjin and, to a minor extent, Shanghai for spinning workshops that imitated foreign high-count woolen yarns.81 Therefore, the subcontracting in Tianjin was less dependent on compradores and foreign yarns and was still linked with the Western regions.
Furthermore, an emerging industry of carpet weaving workshops developed in Tianjin during the 1920s. The American exporters that had been purchasing raw wool since the 1880s looked for local workshops to subcontract the weaving of carpets through the mediation of compradores. According to an investigation made in 1929, there were 303 carpet manufacturers in Tianjin that employed 11,500 workers: 105 of them were factories with more than 30 workers (the legal limit for an industrial factory, according to the Factory Law of the Chinese government), while 198 were workshops with less than 30 workers.82
The carpet manufacturing in Tianjin was almost totally dependent on the foreign demand, that took around 90 per cent of the production of the city.83 Field research undertaken by H. D. Fong concluded that the carpet industry of Tianjin could not be identified with the industrial forms of the West, nor with the typical Chinese subcontracting system of the merchant employer system.84 In China, the small and medium workshops needed an advance payment or a provision of looms or machinery to fulfill the orders, but this system did not work in the carpet industry due to both the significant degree of impurities contained in the raw wool (that could not be controlled by the customer/exporter) and to the cheapness of the woolen looms for carpet manufacturing. Therefore, the carpet workshops owned the looms and the exporter had to provide with raw wool and supervise its quality (the carpet exporter had previously been a raw wool exporter). During this period, most workshops had only weaving looms while the spinning was done by outworkers, generally women and girls, who received a daily fee from the workshops.85 At the end, the extension of a network of big and middle industries and workshops, along with the distribution companies and retail stores allowed the woolen industry of the Yangzi Delta and Tianjin to prosper.
Meanwhile, the business of raw wool continued to rely on export markets. In the early 1930s, China produced 38,000 tons of marketed sheep wool, of which 31,000 was exported, a higher percentage from the earlier reference.86 The price of wool in Tianjin was established according to an international standard which was set in New York. As a result, the sheep rearing regions also were progressively integrated into global markets. During the worst years of the Great Depression, the price of wool fell, affecting the export business. Meanwhile, the Japanese trading companies tried to extract wool from the Northeast regions of China for their textile industries. Japan had a minor control of the Tianjin export trade and aimed to get rid of their dependency from the fine wools of Australia. Japan tried to increase wool production in Shandong, the puppet state of Manchukuo and the Mongolian regions. Former wool businessmen Zheng Xiaoxu was appointed prime minister of the new government of Manchukuo with a plan to increase the production of wool to 50,000 tons a year, aiming to become the biggest producer in Asia.87 But this goal was never achieved, and Japan kept depending on wool from Australia.88
THE CHINESE WOOLEN INDUSTRY REACHES MATURITY
The impact of the Great Depression over exports brought some changes that reconnected the Northern regions with the emerging industry of the Yangzi Delta. Export prices that were set in US Dollars fell during the peak of the recession (1929-31) while the domestic price of wool – that was set in silver tael (liang) – remained stable, therefore increasing in relative terms. At the same time, the price of woolen yarn and cloth did not fall in the markets of China, despite international deflation, swelling the margins for wool manufacturing and enhancing again the initiatives for wool spinning.89 The cheapness of the foreign textile machineries and the high taxing of woolen imported textiles, who received a 30 per cent tax ad valorem, drove Chinese businessmen and officials to pool capital into wool spinning. Most of them mixed Chinese with foreign imported wool to achieve a minimum standard of quality.
In Tianjin, the Chinese firms with spinning capacity appeared in 1931. Renli, for instance, was created with a capital of 300,000 yuans and a capacity of 1,000 spindles of the coarse type and Dongya, which became the largest Chinese wool producer in Republican China, with coarse and fine spindle capacity (3,000 spindles in 1932) and an invested capital of 600,000 yuans in 1934, an amount that was similar to the other foreign owned companies.90 At the end, the existence of a network of middle sized industries and workshops, along with distribution and retail companies, allowed the woolen industry to prosper, including capital invested in spinning, that came in the last part of the process.
According to an investigation in 1934, there were 26 woolen industrial companies in China with a production capacity of around 30,000 spindles, from which only one third were from the coarser type.91 The cotton industry, by contrast, owned more than 5 million spindles in the same year, with a keen competition between Japanese and Chinese capitals. Coarse yarn manufacturers were in the Northern regions of Tianjin, Lanzhou and Beijing (also in Harbin and Shenyang, that fell under the puppet state of Manchukuo), and were used for the carpet industry and military supplies. Meanwhile, the fine yarn manufacturers were in the Yangzi Delta, Shanghai and Tianjin and focused on the urban markets of China and civilian cloth. Another study of 1934 calculated that only in Shanghai there were 23 woolen spinning and weaving mills summing a capital of 2 million yuans and 2,391 workers. This was far away from the 50 million yuan that was invested in the Chinese cotton sector and less than the capital invested in the knitting industry: over 4 million yuan, with 40 companies engaged in the production of socks, sweaters, underwear, pants and other cloth for urban civilians. However, Shanghai alone represented the 60 per cent of the total woolen sector of China.92
In 1932, the merchant and industrialist Liu Hongsheng (1888-1956), a compradore from the Ningbo region but living in Shanghai – like Yu Qiaqing – combined an old machinery set that had been used by Rihui and China Number One, with a new equipment and created one of the biggest companies to produce coarse woolen yarns using China’s domestic wool. Liu Hongsheng and his industrial firms have been researched by economic historians, but the developments of the woolen industry have received less attention.93 Liu Hongsheng registered Zhanghua Woolen Company in Pudong, out of the International Concessions, but kept the original spirit of Rihui: to provide with woolen products for army uniforms and securing official contracts.94 However, the sales were not straightforward, and the firm was highly indebted and suffered losses between 1931 and 1933.95 Then, Liu Hongsheng decided to change the entire management of the company and turned Zhanghua into fine manufacturing, following the strategy of Yu Qiaqing.96 However, as shown in the case of China Number One, this was not an easy transformation due to the technical difficulties and the different machineries used in both types of production.
The distributor price of the gabardine cloth (a fine woolen) that was set in the Shanghai market in October 1934 shows that Zhanghua was well positioned (considering its profitability): Zhanghua’s cloth (4 yuan), Japanese cloth (3.5), British (4.5) and French (3.65).97 Besides, the retailer usually added a 10 per cent to the final price, but Liu Hongsheng soon kept this margin for itself, at least in some sales, by opening in 1932 the first retail store owned by a big woolen manufacturer in the heart of Shanghai’s consumption market, the famous Nanjing Road. Zhanghua and other similar companies benefited from the massive boycotts against foreign goods that spread in these decades, even though its gabardines used foreign yarn, something that was often hidden behind the Chinese character of the manufacturer and its national branding. Zhanghua managed to sell fine products like gabardines with imported yarns until it reached the capacity of fine spinning in 1936. That year, the company reaped record profits amounting 500,000 yuans.98 This kind of companies became vertically integrated and did not have the necessity of subcontracting the last stages of production nor the retailing, but rather operated on a commission basis.
One of the first Chinese companies to spin fine yarns in China appeared in Wuxi (Jiangsu province) from a coalition of cotton industrialists that invested 300,000 yuans in a big and modern woolen mill. This company was called Xiexin (registered in 1934) and was run by Tang Junyuan (1902-92), a prominent textile industrialist from the Lixin Cotton Spinning and Weaving Company.99 Xiexin bought 1,800 fine wool spindles, 40 looms and a full dyeing set. The machinery provider (the Sino-British company China Engineers Limited) considered Xiexin as the best equipped and best managed woolen mill of the country.100 In October 1935, Xiexin started to spin high-count woolen and worsted yarns (the most important material for men suiting) with imported wool tops of high quality from Australia. These wool tops accounted for 80 per cent of the fixed costs of production.101 The worsted and woolen yarns were not sold to the market but were integrated into weaving and dyeing departments, following a vertical integration strategy.102
From the beginning, Xiexin targeted the commercial and urban markets of Shanghai, where it sold 70 per cent of its output, especially to the distributor and retail cloth companies that boomed in the International Concessions.103 Xiexin also managed to compete successfully with high quality foreign imported goods, gaining profits of 240,000 yuans in 1935-36 and 470,000 in 1936-37. This profit enabled the company to raise the capital to 800,000 yuans and purchase new machineries, reaching a capacity of 4,000 spindles and 100 looms just before the Japanese occupation.104 Xiexin was developed out of the institutional framework of the International Concessions, in the city of Wuxi, and its management was not very different from other private companies that appeared previously. It was rather its market orientation that made Xiexin a successful case. From both cases, it seems clear that the demand of woolen goods was polarized between a minority of consumers that bought high quality woolen products and a majority of the population that simply could not afford to buy woolen products at all. China’s new woolen firms targeted this minority of urban consumers that started to dress in the Western style.105
According to the machinery supplier of Xiexin, 11 worsted companies appeared in China between 1930 and 1934.106 The biggest one was Patons & Baldwins, a modern mill built with British capital which opened a worsted mill with 7,000 woolen spindles and a complete weaving and knitting department. The profits of Patons during the boom years after 1935 were even more impressive than Xiexin, reaching one million yuan just before the outbreak of the war. The British company sold their production to distributors and retailers offering generous commissions in exchange of exclusivity for their famous “Mifeng” brand. The famous cloth distributors and tailor shops of Shanghai (such as Tailong, Xingshentai, Longxingchang and Yuanmaoyong) worked with Patons despite growing boycotts against foreign goods. The production of fine woolen yarns in China skyrocketed from 50 tons in 1932 to 4,090 in 1936, while the imports of this product fell from 3,301 tons to 614 in the same period.107 The worsted industry in China really took off between 1935 and 1937, just before the Japanese occupation.108
The spell of high profits attracted more investors, not only coming from the industrial sector. The Yumin Woolen Company, for instance, was founded by the cloth merchant Shen Laizhou, who owned a cloth firm in Shanghai named Hengyuanxiang. At the beginning, this kind of firm purchased woolen cloths from importers and sold them to other retailers or to the final consumers. Between 1934 and 1935, the cloth firms in Shanghai reached an annual turnover of 3,000 yuan, which was about all the capital invested in these small ventures.109 Hengyuanxiang pooled capital with other cloth shops and tried the big business of wool weaving. At the same time, Yumin partnered with Anle Cotton Spinning Company, a cotton spinning firm that had just bought wool spindles. Yumin would weave and finish the product for specific brands taking woolen yarns of Anle and creating a web of subcontracting firms that controlled all the production process, except for the wool tops that still had to be imported.110 This partnership developed further and Anle would become one of the most important textile industrial groups in the 1940s, after the war.
The machinery providers also turned into wool manufacturers. In 1934, China Engineers, the main provider of woolen machineries and wool tops in Shanghai, invested 150,000 yuans in a worsted mill called Shanghai Worsted Limited, that start producing in 1935. Being a Sino-British company, its mission was to compete against the powerful Patons & Baldwins, offering high quality gabardines and serge for suits.111 Shanghai Worsted Limited gathered different textile investors from the cotton business such as Guo Dihuo (1904-86), the founder of the Yong’an Company, who owned one of the biggest department stores in Shanghai, with a tailoring department for men and women.112 Wang Qiyu (1883-1965), the general manager of Shanghai Worsted Mills, was also a pioneer in the cotton dyeing finishing industry. This case was similar than Anle because the company survived the war against Japan and continued working in Hong Kong during the 1940s.113
In 1937, just before the Japanese invasion of China, Shanghai had around 30 Chinese-owned woolen mills with a capital of 4.2 million yuans, which was approximately the 65 per cent of all Chinese capital invested in this sector. Besides, five Japanese and two British companies also stood in the city, which concentrated most part of China’s woolen and textile production.114 At that time, the Chinese woolen industry was experimenting with ways to produce wool tops domestically and to avoid its dependence on raw wool imports to make high quality products.115 When the Japanese started the full-fledged invasion of China, the woolen industry and its network of companies and workshops had succeeded in consolidating its dominance, at least in some urban markets. It was a flourishing business despite its relative insignificance, considering the scale of China, and the growing political and institutional instability.
The evolution of the woolen industry in China illustrates the hardships of China’s long road towards industrialization. From the late Qing to the First World War, China built several woolen mills in Gansu, Beijing and Shanghai that were unsuccessful. China exported most of its wool without treating it, while the early attempts to spin coarse yarn for the Chinese market failed. The shortcomings of China’s industrialization in this earlier period has captured the attention of several scholars who have raised theories about the impact of imperialism, the institutional constraints of both the Chinese state and the private firms and the lack of resources (skilled labor, capital, raw materials, etc.). This article has tried to explain this process by looking at other factors that have not been taken into consideration before, such as the market consumer trends and the structure of the industry. The argument could be summarized by stating that that lack of success of both Chinese and foreign mills during this earlier period was due to a wrong market orientation, sustained on the fallacy that the Chinese population was ready to consume massive industrial coarse goods. Indeed, many observers of that period complained about the exaggerations of the optimistic prospects of the China market, a vision that was often defined as the ‘myth of the China market’.116
By contrast, the successful case studies of the woolen industries from the 1920s and 1930s indicate that modern industry prospered in certain urban spots such as Shanghai, the Yangzi Delta or Tianjin. Indeed, China’s industrialization was highly concentrated and small, compared with the rest of Chinese economy. However, in these spots, the Chinese and foreign-owned companies alike sought an equally positive evolution, even though the Chinese firms were predominant. Besides, industrial development happened in different institutional frameworks such as the International Concessions of Shanghai, the outskirts of the same city, Tianjin, Wuxi and the Northeast regions that were under Japanese control. The development of the woolen industry grew in concrete niche markets: the Chinese urban middle class and the American exporters in the case of carpet manufacturers. In a certain moment, during and after the First World War, the local producers started to fill these niches when the international trade reached a standstill, following an import substitution logic. A network of small and medium producers established subcontracting relations to supply an existing demand. After this initial stage and under a situation of rising demand, the market conditions were ripe for the big business of wool manufacturing to emerge, with relevant industrial investments and vertically integrated mills that managed to run high profits in the mid-1930s.
Unlike the cotton and silk with a long tradition of craftsmanship and consumption in China, the woolen industry was built from scratch and was associated with the treaty port system. Whereas in the carpet industry of Tianjin or the more sophisticated woolen industry of Shanghai, these newborn industries faced no competition from the domestic production or traditional forms of manufacturing, at least in the territories where most of Chinese population lived. Therefore, the woolen industry showed a clear contrast and separation between the industrialized spots in Shanghai, the Yangzi Delta and Tianjin, and the rest of the Chinese rural population, without access to woolen goods. The emergence of the woolen industry reveals the progressive integration of these regions to the global economy during the nineteenth and twenty centuries, and their divergence with other Chinese regions that were left isolated.
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, Chan( Wellington) , “ 1999 Selling goods and promoting a new commercial culture: the four premier department stores on Nanjing Road, 1917-1937”, in , ed., Inventing Nanjing road. Commercial culture in Shanghai, 1900-1945, Cochran( Sherman) Ithaca, Cornell East Asia Series, p. 19- 60.
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China Business History Archives (CBHA) 中国企业史资料中心, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS), 上海社会科学院.
The China Engineers Quarterly Review
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Far Eastern Economic Review
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, and Nakagawa( Feiichiro) Rosovsky( Henry) , “ 1963 The Case of the Dying Kimono. The Influence of Changing Fashions in the Development of the Japanese Woolen Industry”, The Business History Review, Vol. 37, No. 1/2, Special Illustrated Fashion Issue, p. 59- 80.
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Carles Brasó Broggi, born in 1979, PhD, lecturer at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Sinologist and economic historian. He has recently published a book: Trade and Technology Networks in the Chinese Textile Industry. Opening Up before the Reform (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and articles like “Beyond colonial dichotomies: Spanish deficits and peripheral powers in treaty port China” (Modern Asian Studies, 2019). Address: Avenida República Argentina No. 13, 1o 1a, Barcelona 08023 (ESPAÑA) (firstname.lastname@example.org).
About cotton see Fong, 1932; and Chao, 1977.
For an analysis of the impact of the woolen industry on Japan’s modern fashion, see Nakagawa and Rosovsky, 1963. On the evolution of Chinese modern fashion, see Finnane, 2008.
Before 1937, China spindle capacity did not surpass 0.2 million spindles while the cotton industry reached 5 million in 1932. About the woollen industry, see Shanghaishi gongshang xingzheng guanliju, 1963, p. 217-29; and Ye, 1934, p. 974-76. About the spinning capacity of the cotton industry in China, see Chao, 1977, p. 301-04.
About China’s urban consumption in textiles see Finnane, 2008, p. 101-07; about China’s industrial growth see Brandt, Ma and Rawski, 2014, p. 89-90.
In chronological order: Rea’s Far Eastern Manual, 1922, China Section, Woolen Mills; Ji, 1925; Fong, 1929; Fong, 1930; Ye, 1934; and Jin, 1937.
About a demand side explanation of industrial revolution and industrialization, see Vries, 1994.
Jin, 1937, p. 81; see also J. A. Millward, “The Chinese border wool trade, 1880-1937”, Unpublished paper, available at https://es.scribd.com/doc/267408152/Chinese-Wool-Trade, p. 1-2.
Ye, 1934, p. 974.
Jin, 1937, p. 81.
Ji, 1925, p. 56.
The cities near the main producing regions where the woolen was concentrated before being transported to Tianjin were Baotou (for the wools from Gansu, Ningxia and Qinghai), Guihuacheng (for the wools from Xinjiang and Suiyuan) and Zhangjiakou (for the wools from Inner and Outer Mongolia). See Grove, 2001, p. 105-06; and Jin, 1937, p. 131-34.
Hsiao, 1974, p. 77-78.
Grove, 2001, p. 107. On Shanghai, see ‘Shanghai yangmao chukou tongji’ (Statistics on exports of wool from Shanghai), China Business History Archives (hereafter CBHA), available at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS), 6-7-050, 1934-36, 3.
Jin, 1937, p. 103-05.
Ibidem, p. 105-15, 131-35.
Owen Lattimore, after hearing their stories of caravans, finally joined them and travelled extensively through these regions; see Lattimore, 1928 and 1941; About his previous work as a clerk in Tianjin, see “The Book Page. The Road to Turkestan”, The North China Daily, January 26, 1929, p. 174.
“Shansi. From an occasional correspondant”, The N. C. Herald and the S. C. & C. Gazette, December 6, 1882, p. 610.
Ye, 1934, p. 974; see also Jin, 1937, p. 81-83; and Wu, 1997, Vol. 2, p. 106.
According to Zuo Zongtang, see Zuo, 1879, p. 822; see also The N. C. Herald and the S. C. & C. Gazette, December 12, 1882, p. 640.
Rockhill, 1891, p. 36.
The North China Herald, February 1, 1913, p. 312.
Wu, 1997, Vol. 1, p. 107.
Ye, 1934, p. 974.
“First Manchu premier dies”, The North China Herald, April 5, 1938, p. 10.
“Shanghai rihui zhini shangchang youxian gongsi baogao” (Announcement of Shanghai’s Rihui Woolen Company), in Shenbao, April 24, 1907, p. 1; see also Shi, 1998, p. 138.
See the personal diary of Zheng Xiaoxu of January 30, 1909, in Zheng, 1909, p. 1176.
“Shanghai Rihuichang, xinyihua pifa lingjian pingjia chushou” (The retail and distribution stores of Rihuichang for sale), Shenbao, September 9, 1910, p. 1.
For an account on this business, see Brasó Broggi, 2015, p. 5-8.
Wu, 1997, Vol. 1, p. 221.
Brasó Broggi, 2015, p. 5-8.
In 1923 he was appointed personal counselor by the ex-emperor Pu Yi under the authorization of the Japanese authorities in Tianjin, see “First Manchu premier dies”, The North China Herald, April 5, 1938, p. 10.
“Mongolian wool”, The North China Herald, April 4, 1914, p. 13.
“The Wool Trade of Kansu”, The North China Herald, October 23, 1915, p. 241.
“To Exploit China Wool”, The North China Herald, October 26, 1918, p. 229-30.
“Zhongguo weiyi maorongxian chang zhi jinxing”, Shenbao, August 4, 1915, p. 10. On Yu Qiaqing, see Feng, 2013.
Feuerwerker, 1995, p. 50.
“Maorong xian shangshi”, Shenbao, November 29, 1918,
“Zhongguo xinchupin maorongxian guanggao”, Shenbao, July 12, 1919, p. 3; about Hengfeng, see Shanghaishi mianpu shangye, p. 10.
See Brasó Broggi, 2015.
Bergère, 1986, p. 124-27; See also Zhang, ‘Shanghai xingshengjie’, p. 24.
‘Zhongguo weiyi maorongxian chang zhi jinxing’, in Shenbao, 4 Aug. 1915, p. 10.
“Gaizu maorongxianchang zhi zhoushe”, Shenbao, August 11, 1915, p. 10.
‘Woolen mills. China section’, in Rea’s Far Eastern Manual, 1922, available at the University of Arizona, URL: https://www2.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/articles791.html.
“Shandong production of wool”, The North China Herald, October 21, 1921, p. 52.
Field, 1935, p. 36.
Ye, 1936, p. 976.
Gerth, 2004, p. 102-06.
Rea’s Far Eastern Manual, 1922, China Section, Woolen Mills.
Ji, 1925, p. 56-58.
“Woolen suits for soldiers”, The North China Herald, July 24, 1920, p. 250.
Wu, 1997, Vol. 2, p. 319.
‘Woolen mills. China section’, in Rea’s Far Eastern Manual, 1922, p. 134. Available at the University of Arizona, URL: https://www2.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/articles791.html.
‘Our Harbin letter’, in The North China Herald, 19 Jan. 1924, p. 90.
Ye, 1934, p. 975.
See Brandt, Ma and Rawski, 2017, p. 205.
See Bergère, 1979.
Ma, 2002, p. 362.
Brandt, Ma and Rawski, 2017, table 9.7.
Sheehan, 2015, p. 67.
See the reports on women fashion in the first issues of Liangyou (Young Companion) magazine, that appeared in 1926, Liangyou, no. 3, Apr. 1926, p. 15; and Liangyou, no. 7, Aug. 1926, p. 8.
Yao, Hsin-nung, ‘Why I wear foreign clothes?’, in The North China Herald, 11 Dec. 1935, p. 458.
About the raise of Shanghai’s knitting industry, see Shi, Shanghai fangzhi gongyezhi, p. 179; on Sun Yatsen, see also Bergère, 1994.
Wu, 1997, vol. 1, p. 152-53.
Jiangsu Committee Regional Gazette, Jiangsu shengzhi: fangzhi gongyezhi, p. 180.
‘Shanghai gongye tongji’ (Industrial Statistics of Shanghai), 1933-34, CBHA, 6-04-011, p. 4-5.
James, 1929, p. 8.
Fong, 1929, p. 25.
This flexible system was defined by H. D. Fong as ‘master craftsmen, merchant employer and factory’, see Fong, 1930, p. 25-26.
‘Shanghaishi geye tongji’ (Data in all kinds of industries of Shanghai), 1934, CBHA, 6-01-093, p. 293.
Lieu, 1936, p. 78; about the crisis of the textile industry of 1923, see Bergère, 1980.
Fong, 1930, p. 14-15. About cotton yarn and cloth imports, see the major work by Fong, 1932, p. 248.
Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce, Shanghai minzu maofangzhi gongye, p. 77.
The most important knitting producer in China, Dongya learnt in the Missionary societies of Shandong, see Sheehan, 2015, p. 42.
Wu, 1997, Vol. 1, p. 225
Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce, Shanghai minzu maofangzhi gongye, p. 74.
The development of wool workshops in Tianjin was noted by Chesneaux, 1962.
Fong, 1930, p. 14-15.
See a complete list of woolen companies (including camel and sheep woolens) in Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce, Shanghai minzu maofangzhi gongye, p. 217-29.
Fong, 1930, p. 15.
Jin, 1937, p. 95.
Fong, 1930, p. 14-15.
Ibidem, p. 24. In 1924, the Carpet Manufacturing Association of Tianjin published written regulations about the contracts in this new industry.
Wu, 1997, Vol. 1, p. 87.
J. R. S., ‘Manchoukuo hopes to increase wool output’, in Far Eastern Survey, vol. 6, no. 12, Jun. 1937, p. 135-36.
‘Japan and Wool’, in The North China Herald, 12 Aug. 1936, p. 261; see also ‘Japan’s Wool Supply and the Dispute with Australia’, in Far Eastern Survey, vol. 5, no. 16 (Jul. 1936), p. 172.
Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce, 1962, p. 75-77.
Ibid., p. 217-19; See also Sheehan, 2015, p. 56.
Ye, 1934, p. 974-76.
‘Shanghai gongye tongji’ (Industrial Statistics of Shanghai), 1933-34, CBHA, 6-04-011, p. 4-5.
About Liu Hongsheng, see Chan, 2006.
Jin, 1937, p. 86.
Chan, 2006, p. 41.
Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce, Shanghai minzu maofangzhi gongye, 1962, p. 82-83.
Measured in yuan per ‘ma’. Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce, Shanghai minzu maofangzhi gongye, p. 94.
Chan, 2006, p. 41.
Jiang and Tang, 2014, p. 15-19.
The China Engineers Quarterly Review, no. 31, Oct. 1939, p. 3-4, available at Shanghai Municipal Archives (thereafter SMA), U1-14-6524.
‘Jiangsusheng, Wuxixian maofangzhi gaikuang’ (The Situation of the woolen industry in Wuxi), Apr. 1936, CBHA, 6-4-257.
About the vertical integration strategy of Lixin in the production of cotton, see Brasó Broggi, 2016, p. 58-61; see also ‘Jiangsusheng, Wuxixian maofangzhi gaikuang’, Apr. 1936, CBHA, 6-4-257, p. 1.
‘Jiangsusheng, Wuxixian maofangzhi gaikuang’, Apr. 1936, CBHA, 6-4-257, p. 2.
Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce, Shanghai minzu maofangzhi gongye, p. 97-98.
Wu, 1997, Vol. 2, p. 111.
The China Engineers Quarterly Review, no. 11, Oct. 1934, p. 7, available at SMA, U1-14-6524.
Wu, 1997, Vol. 2, p. 113.
‘The worsted industry of China’, in Far Eastern Economic Review, vol. 2, no. 8, 19 Feb. 1947, p. 127.
Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce, Shanghai minzu maofangzhi gongye, p. 92-93.
The China Engineers Quarterly Review, no. 11, Oct. 1934, p. 5, available at SMA, U1-14-6524.; see also Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce, Shanghai minzu maofangzhi gongye, p. 102-05.
Lee, 1965, p. 82. The monthly fashion magazine Liangyou (Young Companion) published two special reports about the woolen industry of China in 1936, see ‘The making of woolen cloth’, in Liangyou, no. 114, Feb. 1936, p. 39; and ‘Where our woolen clothes come from’, in Liangyou, no. 120, Sep. 1936, p. 28-29.
See Chan, ‘Selling goods and promoting a new commercial culture’.
Shanghai Worsted Mills Limited was registered in Hong Kong but the mail mill and the main office were in Shanghai, see the documents of the register of the company and the equity share in ‘Shanghai Worsted Mills’, Hong Kong Public Records Office (HKPRO), HKPRO, 111-4-54.
Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce, Shanghai minzu maofangzhi gongye, p. 110.
China Engineers imported the first machineries for the conversion of wool into wool tops and they were successfully tested with China’s domestic raw wool that was turned into wool tops ready for spinning high count yarns. These machineries were considered strategic by the Nationalist government and were transported to Hankou and Chongqing in 1938, see The China Engineers Quarterly Review, no. 36, Jan. 1941, p. 2-3, available at SMA, U1-14-6524.
This fallacy was detected by some observers, see Crow, 1937.