Creating a new Shanghai : the end of the British presence in China (1949-57)

  • Jonathan J Howlett

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis provides a fundamental reassessment of the limits of the power of the Chinese Communist Party in the years following its takeover of China in 1949 through an examination of its policies towards eliminating British businesses from Shanghai. In the early years of the People's Republic of China, the Party sought to eliminate all foreign influence. It wanted to reset completely China's foreign relations following what was portrayed as a century of 'national humiliation'. It has previously been assumed that the CCP went about this task in a pre-planned and thoroughly ruthless manner, and that their policy making was primarily motivated by their anti-imperialist sentiments. This thesis argues that the CCP decided to take a long-term and pragmatic approach in order to prevent economic instability. Revolutionary transformative goals were compromised in order to preserve short-term stability. Rather than having a grand plan for the elimination of British businesses, the CCP's policy was often contingent and provisional. Policies directed at Chinese businesses were often adapted to pressure British businesses. The CCP lacked skills, knowledge, resources and manpower. This thesis contributes to a growing literature on China in the early 1950s by suggesting that the CCP was not strong, it was in fact weak, but that its great strength lay in its awareness of its own weaknesses and in its ability to work around them. 1.
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJames Thompson (Supervisor) & Robert Bickers (Supervisor)

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