016A_ Moll-Murata _Christiansen

Industrialization in Northeast Asia: A Long-Term Perspective, 1900–Now

Panel organizers & chairs

Christine Moll-Murata (University Bochum/AREA)
Flemming Christiansen (University Duisburg-Essen/AREA)

Contributors & discussants

Flemming Christiansen (University Duisburg-Essen/AREA)
Katarzyna Golik (Polish Academy of Science)
Christine Moll-Murata (University Bochum)/AREA)
TEH, Limin (University Leiden)
Ines Stolpe (University Bonn)
Tümen-Ochiryn Erdene-Ochir (University Bonn)
Bhavna Davé (School of African and Oriental Studies, London)
Anastasia Herber (Nikulina) (University Duisburg-Essen/AREA)

Panel abstract

This panel conceptualizes the transformation of Northeast Asian traditional socioeconomic activities into a modern industry and the creation of fluid urban labour markets. It will explore emerging cross-border conditions of wealth creation from the early years of the twentieth century. Historically, important stimuli came from the example of Japanese industrialization, which informed Chinese, Mongolian, and Manchurian indigenous industrialization efforts. After the installation of the dependent state of Manchukuo in 1932, Japan also invested directly into the planning and establishment of industrial enterprises in the Chinese North-Eastern provinces and planned to do so in Inner Mongolia (Guisui) as well. Since the 1920s the Republic of Mongolia was dominated by the Soviet Union and also experienced increasing industrialization. In the Chinese Northeastern Provinces, the industrial legacy after 1949 was a substantial basis of the Communist industrialization effort, while the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union helped new large industrial complexes like those in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, to emerge. The Chinese reforms starting in 1978 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 were important watersheds that opened up new avenues of industrial collaboration, investment, trade and the movement of people. More recently, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang became sites of agribusiness complexes of enormous dimensions, and China’s ability and determination to invest in new infrastructure in North East Asia also draws the attention of Russia and Japan on the region. The Russian Far East, in turn, has become a target of industrialization and development oriented mainly towards the Chinese model.

Individual papers by scholars cooperating in the framework of the AREA Ruhr association and beyond present Northeast Asia’s industrial dynamism and its wider qualitative meaning for global industrialization processes and the concomitant rising intensity of communication, trade, industry, and use of energy.

Christine Moll-Murata:  Industrialization of Inner Mongolia in the phase of Mengjiang (1937–45)

This paper  explores the prerequisites for industrialization during a period when among the powers that strove for predominance in the entire region Japan was strongest and Mengjiang (part of present-day Inner Mongolia) formed a satrap state. It looks at the preconditions of industrialization, that is, infrastructure, electricity, communications, and finance, as they were presented in the Japanese literature of the period. Moreover, the side of the extraction of resources in agriculture, herding, and mining will be demonstrated and the presence of the Japanese state and private enterprises in the cities are outlined. The literature, albeit colored by its Japanese provenance, conveys a remarkable speed with which the Japanese enterprises and colonial institutions made their appearance in the region. The paper thus aims at adding and critically evaluating a facet of growth and impact that tends to be forgotten in the present Chinese discourse.

TEH, Limin: Geopolitics, Coal Production, and Labor Processes in the Fushun Coalmine, 1946–48

This contribution  portrays the critical period after the Japanese defeat, when Soviet troops occupied the region for the next seven months, denying entry to Nationalists troops. After the Soviet withdrawal in 1946, it took with them considerable amounts of industrial equipment, raw materials, and finished stock that it regarded as war reparations. This essay addresses this question by investigating how the removals impaired mining work and daily life in the coalmine and city of Fushun in Liaoning Province. It argues that the Soviet removals imposed greater constraints on the Nationalist state’s capacity for governance than historians have acknowledged, and thus the standing view of the Nationalist party-state as ineffectual deserves reconsideration.

Flemming Christiansen: Urbanization in Continental North East Asia

Flemming Christiansen considers the consequences of demographic change and urbanization processes in more recent history, after the Three Northern Provinces and Inner Mongolia were again firmly established as part of the People’s Republic of China. Urbanization is closing the gap between rural and urban productivity, reaching the so-called „Lewis turning point,“ and the contentious household registration system that divided China for six decades is on its way out. In order to understand urbanization in its concrete manifestations it is imperative that we examine how labor, resources, social institutions and political visions intersect. The unprecedented scale, celerity and open-endedness of the urbanization momentum mandate a critical reappraisal of the institutions involved. The contribution will in particular reconceptualize the transformation of agriculture into a modern industry and creation of more fluid urban labor markets.

Katarzyna Golik: Dependent Development of a Post-transition State – the Case of Mongolia

This paper sets the focus on to the Republic of Mongolia since the 1990s. Mongolia’s opening-up since the 1990s allowed the foreign actors to shape its economy, with Mongolia on the bottom of the supply chains. Particularly, the growing dependence on China provokes rising concerns of Mongolian public opinion. Structural power over the Mongolian economy influences the instability of the state in various areas. The aim of the paper is to underline an impact of the Sino-Mongolian economic relation on social, political and legal dynamics. Especially, as Mongolia is about to become a part of the Northern Economic Corridor, the bilateral relations become important for the regional connectivity projects. The question is: what will be the role of the Mongolian state in this initiative?

Ines Stolpe & Tümen-Ochiryn Erdene-Ochir: Nutag Councils as Post-Socialist Lifelines Between the Steppe and the Metropoles in Mongolia

This is a  study of connections of rural and urban spheres within and beyond Mongolia’s borders.  Nutag councils (NCs) are self-governed by people who feel committed to support their rural homeland after they had migrated from the countryside to province centres, cities or abroad. Initially established after socialism as an answer to the sudden disintegration of the countryside, they have become the most widespread yet – for outsiders – least visible features of the civil society landscape. Like a prism, their manifold activities provide key insights into distinctive structures of relevance, knowledge cultures and (socio-)logics of practice which are characteristic for modern Mongolia.

Bhavna Dave: Strategies for Infrastructural and Industrial Development in the Russian Far East – Old Issues, New Debates

This paper demonstrates that policymakers in Moscow envision the Russian Far East as crucial for establishing itself as an Asia-Pacific power. This objective that requires enormous investment in the transport infrastructure, manufacturing, and agrarian sectors as well as in the development of its oil and gas and hydroelectrical potential. If the aim of Moscow during the Soviet period was to integrate its Far Eastern periphery closely with the European parts of the USSR, the objective of its strategic development now has a geopolitical and economic rationale.

Anastasia Herber: Industrialization Patterns in the Russian Far East and China

This contribution takes a closeup view of Russia’s Far Eastern development. Starting with an analysis of the structural factors, such as remoteness of the region and lack of internal coherence, lack of infrastructure, and sparse population, which challenge Moscow’s pursuit of development in the Far East, it then focusses on the different perspectives advocated by policymakers in Moscow and in the region. These factors result in the lack of cohesiveness, complicated further by the absence of the budgetary allocations for a comprehensive development programme. The paper will show how the implications of China’s ever growing role in the commercial, agricultural and industrial sectors in the region affect Moscow’s developmental objectives in the Far East.