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Shanghai SplendorEconomic Sentiments and the Making of Modern China, 1843-1949$
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Wen-hsin Yeh

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249714

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249714.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Shanghai Splendor
Author(s):

Wen-hsin Yeh

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520249714.003.0001

In the century after the Opium War (1839–42), against the backdrop of deeply seated anti-mercantile ambivalence, a middle class emerged and gained social legitimacy in Shanghai. It embraced the pursuit of industrial wealth on the grounds that it would bring material benefits to the nation. It succeeded in framing the discourse of wealth in terms of science while forging an alliance with the modernizing Chinese state. The new wealth was presented, in the first half of the twentieth century, as patriotic, scientific, and democratic. This chapter argues that private capitalist enterprises contributed to the wealth of the Chinese nation. This new doctrine of commercial wealth inspired a generation of aspiring youths to prepare themselves in particular skills and to pursue careers in the new economy.

Keywords:   anti-mercantile ambivalence, middle class, Shanghai, industrial wealth, Chinese state, private capitalist enterprises

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