** economics economies China transport

Chinese Economy: Transport

Figure 1.-- China's infrastructure at the turn of the 20th century was stuill, largely feudal. There were still walls around major cities--built during medieval times. Here the Euopeans durung the Boxer Rebellion (1900) cut right through one of those walls to build a temprtary rail line.

Transport is an essential part of any economy which has been the case since the dawn of civikization. For much of history, China had the world's most advanced economy. This continued to be the case througout the medieval era. Marco Polo gave us a taste of this (14th century). What transport that existed was water based, up and diown China's great rivers, especially the Yangtze, Yellow, and Pearl Rivers. This was not unusual. The same was true in Europe as well. Riverine transport was the omly way of moving goods in quantities. Roads hardly exsisted. Of couse the Silk Road existed, but transport costs were so high, it only involved small quantities of luxury goods. That is why the Europeans soughtba marutime connection. The domestic transport problem for China, is that all the major rivers flowed eastward into the sea. There was nothing connecting north and south enabling the flow of commerce. The great accomplishment of the Sui dynasty's was connectung China north to south -- the 1,794-kilometer (1,115 mi) Grand Canal (7th century). It ran from Hangzhou to Beijing. It was the central pillar of the Chinese economy. The Canal was not just a matter of transport, but was vital for irrigation, flood control, taxation, military transport, and colonization of new lands from the Zhou dynasty throug to the Manchu (Qing) Dynasty. The canal stsyem was maintained for more than a millenium, but there was massive destruction and lack if maintenance as a result of the domestic and foreign wars of the first half of the 20th century. China also had an extensive network of foreign maritime trade with Southeast Asia. The famed Ming admiral and court eunuch Zheng He who made celebrated voyages west with a huge fleet of giant ships. The Admiral demonstated that China had the technology for oceanic transport not yet achieved in Europe. This was a century before the Western mariitime explosion east began. After Zhenh He, Ming state-sponsored naval efforts declined dramatically. It is not entirely clear why. It is thought that the increasing pressure the Ming were expeiencing from the Mongols was a major factor. At the same time Europeans were expnding maritime trade all ovr the world. At the onset of the 18th century, China was still a commanding presence. But during the century Europe began to be transformed by the Industrial Revolution. The Imperial Government did not take the dynamic changes in Europe seriously. And slowly the balance of poweer shifted. The Europeans by the 19th century as a result of their industrialized military power demonstrated in the Opium Wars could dictate termns on establishiung Treaty Ports (1840-60). While the basic Imperial policy was to ignore the Europeans, they did understand the importance of the railroads. And China turned to the Europeans to begin to conndect the major cities and Treaty Ports. This was achierved during the late-19th and early-20th century. This was not just an economic matter. It was a major matter when the Japanese invaded with a much more modern army (1937). The Japanese advanced primarily up rivers and along railroad lines. Away from these arteries, the Japanese made little progress because of logistical constraints. Historians give great attention to the primitive infrastructure the Gerams had to confront in the Soviet Union. The Grerman problems were, however, minor comapred to what Japan faced in still largerly feudal rural China and the rugged terraine of the interior.


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Created: 5:42 AM 10/16/2021
Last updated: 5:43 AM 10/16/2021