Making Manchuria Red: Japanese Engineers and the Chinese Communist Revolution

With its high concentration of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in heavy industry, Manchuria (Northeast China) functioned as a symbol of the "socialist industrialization" in the early years of the People's Republic of China (PRC, 1949-). Many Manchurian SOEs nevertheless originated as Japanese enterprises founded before or during the Manchukuo period (1932-45).

Drawing on archives and interview in Chinese, Japanese, English, and Russian, I trace industrial Manchuria's transformation before and after the Communist Revolution with a particular focus on experience of Japanese engineers of Anshan Iron and Steel Works (Angang). I argue that the industrial legacies of imperial Japan and Nationalist China in Manchuria facilitated China's transition to a Soviet-style socialist planned economy under Mao Zedong's leadership (1949-76). The early PRC developed a new system of socialist industrialization by simultaneously learning from Soviet economic planning and deploying physical assets, human resources, and economic institutions left by the Japanese and the Nationalists. My findings expand on recent scholarship on the pre-Communist origins of the early PRC by elucidating the significance of the Japanese influence. 


Dr Koji Hirata is a lecturer in modern history at Monash University. He holds an undergraduate degree in law and politics from the University of Tokyo, M.Phil in modern Chinese history from the University of Bristol and a PhD in history at Stanford University. He was a Research Fellow (JRF) at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge before coming to Monash. 

Dr. Hirata's research touches on modern China, Japan and Russia/Soviet Union with broader implications for the global history of capitalism and socialism.

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The ANU Japan Institute Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Japan Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

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