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The Nature of Warlord Rule Editor's Preface In 1978 Professor Thomas G. Rawski wrote a discussion paper for the University of Toronto-York University Joint Centre on Modern East Asia; entitled "China's Republican Economy, An Introduction," the essay set forth clearly revisionist hypotheses about Republican politics and economy: "domestic rather than external economic forces" shaped the development of the country; the role of the private economic sector was more significant than the role of the government; the economy was in the main civilian, as "the impact of the military [was] limited"; markets were generally competitive; and there were "important progressive elements which increase[d] the potential for future growth" (p. 1). He pointed out that this view of Republican China's economy was markedly different from the standard interpretation which has placed inordinate emphasis on governmental economic strength, on the economic impact of militarism, banditry, and warfare, on the deleterious effects of foreign economic activity, and on the extent of market power which might enable landed and mercantile elites to increase their share of income and wealth at the expense of the rest of the populace (p. 2). Professor Rawski's hypotheses have been the subject of much discussion. We present here three collllilents to elements in his paper. Professor Rawski declined an invitation to participate in this pointcounterpoint feature, indicating that his paper has already been discussed widely in seminars and reviewed in the JAS and "must be fairly old hat by now." He did add the following:· The only substantive change that I have made in looking at this problem over the past several years is to note that railroads fell short of their economic potential by a huge margin in the mid- and late-1920s and 1930s, and warlord activities offer the obvious explanation. If you look at ton-kilometers of freight haulage per kilometer of track, the figures reach a peak in about 1922 that is never regained (except maybe in 1936). And the figures for 1949 and 1950, which hardly represent full utilization of capacity, are way above the peak prewar figures •..• 34 ...


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