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Mining, Bridges, Opium, and Guns: Chinese Investment and State Power in a Late Qing Frontier

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joseph Lawson


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In the last three decades of its rule, the Qing government attempted to establish Chinese-style administration in many of the empire’s non-Han territories, and, in conjunction with non-government actors, foster land cultivation, Han migration, Chinese education, and industries such as mining. This paper investigates these processes in Liangshan, in upland Southwest China. Here, attempts to establish Chinese administration came only in 1907, after a period of substantial private and state investment in mining, transport infrastructure, and, to a lesser extent, land cultivation. Government officials often assumed that such things would aid the political integration in China, but as this paper argues, the consequences were more complicated than that. Although better transport simplified the logistics of government military campaigns, increased commercial activity in the region also allowed its indigenes to acquire firearms for the first time.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lawson J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers of History in China

Year: 2015

Volume: 10

Issue: 3

Pages: 372-394

Online publication date: 23/10/2015

ISSN (print): 1673-3401

ISSN (electronic): 1673-3525

Publisher: Gaodeng Jiaoyu Chubanshe, Higher Education Press


DOI: 10.3868/s020-004-015-0019-6


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