Dr. Daniel J. Meissner is Assistant Professor at Marquette University, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in East Asian History and Sino-American Diplomatic and Economic Relations. He earned undergraduate degrees from the University of Washington, an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to receiving his doctorate, Dr. Meissner taught English and American History in Chinese universities for several years.
2005 0-7734-6040-3 At the turn of the twentieth century, American and Chinese millers were locked in a fiercely contested battle for control of China’s urban flour market that both sides considered crucial to their nation’s future. For Americans, Chinese markets were vital to continued commercial expansion and ultimately, the power, prestige and security of the United States. For Chinese, defending their markets against foreign imports, influence and intervention was essential to preserving their commercial integrity and China’s national sovereignty. This study analyzes the dynamics of this commercial conflict from a perspective essential to the advancement of Chinese business studies, redirecting research in the field from the current China-centered approach to a China-global context. It contextualizes the flour trade through analysis of global factors—political as well as economic—influencing the competitive marketing of domestic and imported commodities. This broader view provides a more balanced, comprehensive examination of late Qing business history and the role played by international trade in the development of import-substitution industrialization. Countering previous failure-based studies of Chinese industrialization, this study highlights the complex relationship between Chinese capitalists and the government, which stimulated successful private industrial development in late imperial China. Analysis of China’s flour milling industry also provides insight into the contemporary capitalist-state alliance that has spurred the nation’s dynamic commercial growth since the 1980s.