Anglo-Chinese trade and finance 1854-1914.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 09:14 by Kwai Lam. Wong
The intention of this thesis is to study the underlying trends of Anglo-Chinese trade and finance-in the period 18514 to 1914. Before the mid-l890s, commercial relations between Britain and China were mainly based on an exchange of goods. Even though large scale portfolio investment began to flow to China from the l850s, it was mainly used to improve efficiency in Anglo-Chinese trading operations. This characteristic is not difficult to explain because for three decades after the signing of the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, Anglo-Chinese import and export trades flourished. After the mid-l870s, the goldengage of the Chinese trade was gone: the British and European markets for Chinese tea and silk dwindled; British exports to China stagnated whilst the expansion of Indian opium exports to China was seriously undermined by local Chinese production. Meanwhile, the opening of the Suez Canal and the construction of Europe- China telegraph resulted in an increase in the number of merchants with small capitals who impaired the virtual control of the Chinese trade by the 'prince firms' the prominent merchants. The situation turned from bad to worse in the nineties. Although British exports to China began to increase after mass inflation in Chinese export and import prices cast serious doubts upon genuine commercial expansion. Faced with a black future for the Anglo-Chinese import and export trades, some 'princes' tried to shift their activities to become Chinese government and railway loan contractors. With direct British diplomatic support, they succeeded in getting the bulk of the Chinese financial projects and with London supplying the capital required, British portfolio investment in China - and mainly in areas not directly concerned with the import and export trades - increased sharply after the mid-l890s and the structure of Anglo-Chinese trade and finance underwent fundamental changes.