Long before Deng Xiaoping’s market-based reforms, commercial relationships bound the Chinese Communist Party to international capitalism and left lasting marks on China’s trade and diplomacy.
China today seems caught in a contradiction: a capitalist state led by a Communist party. But as Market Maoists shows, this seeming paradox is nothing new. Since the 1930s, before the Chinese Communist Party came to power, Communist traders and diplomats have sought deals with capitalists in an effort to fuel political transformation and the restoration of Chinese power. For as long as there have been Communists in China, they have been reconciling revolutionary aspirations at home with market realities abroad.
Jason Kelly unearths this hidden history of global commerce, finding that even Mao Zedong saw no fundamental conflict between trading with capitalists and chasing revolution. China’s ties to capitalism transformed under Mao but were never broken. And it was not just goods and currencies that changed hands. Sustained contact with foreign capitalists shaped the Chinese nation under Communism and left deep impressions on foreign policy. Deals demanded mutual intelligibility and cooperation. As a result, international transactions facilitated the exchange of ideas, habits, and beliefs, leaving subtle but lasting effects on the values and attitudes of individuals and institutions.
Drawing from official and commercial archives around the world, including newly available internal Chinese Communist Party documents, Market Maoists recasts our understanding of China’s relationship with global capitalism, revealing how these early accommodations laid the groundwork for China’s embrace of capitalism in the 1980s and after.
A sober, detailed account of the way modern China came to see that global trade could be a way to ‘fortify socialism…rather than degrade it.’…Kelly conveys what a highwire act it must have been to conduct business on Mao’s watch.
Should appeal to scholars exploring the rise of neoliberalism and the transformation of global capitalism since the 1970s, in which the PRC played a leading role. The history of China’s capitalist ascent as sketched in Market Maoists is therefore critical to any history of the contemporary global economy.
A beautifully written book with compelling insights on the neglected interactions between Maoist China and global capitalist markets. It unquestionably enriches our understanding of how socialist China skillfully did business with Western traders to achieve its goal of state modernization, and sheds new light on the PRC history with a refreshingly global perspective.
Fascinating…Based on wide-ranging primary sources of evidence, this elegant book convincingly argues that long before its formal policy reorientation in 1978, the People’s Republic of China was actively present in marketplaces in the East and West…A truly valuable contribution and merits serious attention from us all.
Provides unprecedented details of China’s foreign economic policies during the pre-1978 period and is an excellent example of scholarship based on field work in Mainland China…Makes an important new contribution to the existing literature.
Groundbreaking…Market Maoists is a fascinating economic and political history that is well written and accessible also to readers unfamiliar with the history of socialist China…It deserves to be widely read and discussed.
Combining lively anecdotes with coherent historical analysis, Market Maoists makes for an engaging read for undergraduate and graduate courses on Chinese and world history. It is also a valuable addition to the work of PRC scholars interested in bridging the geographical divide between China and the world and the temporal divide between the socialist years and the economic reforms…[An] excellent monograph.
An excellent book, extremely well researched and very well written. Kelly provides a valuable overview of PRC trade policies and the significance of China’s trade inside global markets during the Mao era. His comprehensive treatment of the internal battles over how to proceed with international trade and the effects these political decisions had on China’s future adds a great deal to our understanding of China in the world.
Kelly skillfully integrates the Chinese case into a new wave of scholarship transforming our understanding of post–World War II global economic integration. Behind the political confrontation between market-led and planned economies during the Cold War, as he persuasively demonstrates, China’s ongoing need to trade continually shaped its foreign and domestic policy, anticipating the country’s more high-profile engagement with market economies in the late twentieth century and since.
By examining how the Chinese Communist Party leadership treated trade with the capitalist world, Kelly sheds new light on China’s commercial policies and activities and presents the Maoists as being much more economically well-informed and internationally vigorous than previously understood. An original contribution, as well as a joy to read.
An excellent history of China’s state-led international economic relations in the Maoist era. Kelly captures China’s necessary turn to trade with the West after 1973 as the precondition of the globalizing Chinese economy we know today. Most important, he reminds us, rightly, that for Mao and his successors, ‘trade always served politics.’ The Party would remain in control. This is a lesson taken to heart by Chinese leaders today.
- 320 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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