Chinese Capitalisms: An Introduction

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    When Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations in 1776, China was under the rule of Emperor Qianlong (reigned 1735–96). At the time, the country was perhaps exuding the last of its premodern splendor. For despite the rapid ascendance of Europe in the areas of navigation science, military skills, and production technology, China still managed to dazzle George Macartney, head of the British delegation, when he paid a court visit to Emperor Qianlong in 1793. Taken on a trip around the garden of the Emperor’s summer palace, Macartney remarked that the 40 or 50 palaces and pavilions he visited were “all furnished in the richest manner … that our presents must shrink from the comparison and hide their diminished heads” (Robbins 1908, p. 309). But it was not only material civilization that impressed Macartney. Reporting on the ceremony of his reception by the Emperor he wrote that the “commanding feature . was that calm dignity, that sober pomp of Asiatic greatness, which European refinements have not yet attained” (Robbins 1908, p. 307).1 At this time Europeans had also come to appreciate China’s civilization at a more subtle level. According to Michael Adas (cited in Arrighi 2007, p. 3), China was a source of inspiration for the leading figures of the European Enlightenment. Leibniz, Voltaire, and Quesnay, among others, looked to China for moral instruction, guidance in institutional development, and supporting evidence for their advocacy of causes as varied as benevolent absolutism, meritocracy, and an agriculturally based national economy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationChinese Capitalisms
    Subtitle of host publicationHistorical Emergence and Political Implications
    EditorsYin-wah Chu
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Number of pages15
    ISBN (Electronic)9780230251359
    ISBN (Print)9780230576490, 9781349366378
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Publication series

    NameInternational Political Economy Series

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Chinese Communist Party
    • Production Network
    • Filial Piety
    • Socialist Country
    • Capitalist Development


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