Smokeless Sugar
336 pages, 6 x 9
5 b&w illustrations, 2 maps, 22 tables
Release Date:01 Nov 2011
Release Date:20 Oct 2010
Release Date:20 Oct 2010

Smokeless Sugar

The Death of a Provincial Bureaucrat and the Construction of China's National Economy

UBC Press

Part political biography, part economic history, and part murdermystery, Smokeless Sugar sheds new light on regional andnational politics and state-led industrialization in Republican Chinaby investigating the mysterious execution of a Cantonese official in1936.

Feng Rui, a Western-educated agricultural expert, introduced modernsugar milling in Guangdong in the 1930s as a key component in a programof light industrialization sponsored by the province’s ruler,Chen Jitang. Following Chen’s removal, however, Feng was accusedof colluding with smugglers for passing off foreign sugar as a domesticproduct and was found guilty of corruption. Examining the truth behindthe allegations against Feng Rui, Emily Hill makes the case that Fengwas, in fact, a scapegoat in a multi-sided power struggle in whichpolitical leaders vied with commercial players for access toChina's markets and tax revenues.

This compelling study of a Chinese official examines his role as abroker between regions and economic sectors and private trade andpublic policy. Emily Hill uncovers Feng Rui’s role in theconceptual and material construction of China’s modern economyand argues that his work helped to lay the foundations forChina’s state-led industrialization program after 1949.

This compelling book will be of interest to historians of modernChinese politics, economics, and culture.

This is a very impressive work ... It uses the career and execution of Feng Rui as a way of analyzing several key themes in modern Chinese history – regional and national politics in the 1930s, the role of the state in fostering industrialization, international trading issues and development, and the problems associated with transforming agriculture in China. Hill’s scholarship is excellent; she has thoroughly combed the Chinese sources. Parks M. Coble, author of Chinese Capitalists in Japan's New Order: The Occupied Lower Yangzi, 1937-1945
The intricate detective work of Smokeless Sugar provides a well-reasoned and documented exoneration of the unjustly executed agricultural reformer Feng Rui. Hill’s book is the first detailed English-language account of a remarkable program of state economic planning in Guangdong during the 1930s, which laid the foundations for the Communist government’s economic restructuring of the region in the 1950s. One of her most important findings is the vital role of the state in economic development during the Republican period. Robert Y. Eng, author of Economic Imperialism in China: Silk Production and Exports, 1861-1932
Emily M. Hill is an associate professor of history atQueen’s University.


1 The Formation of Agricultural Expertise: Feng Rui’sEducation and Early Career

2 Public Service in Guangdong, 1931-36: Economic Nationalism andProvincial Planning

3  Rice and Revenue: Guangdong’s"Benefit Agriculture" Import Taxes

4 White Sugar: Global Business and Provincial Enterprises

5 Bitter Experiences with Sugarcane

6 Brokers, Smugglers, and the Official Sugar Monopoly,1934-36

7 National Reunification and the Punishment of Feng Rui

8 Provincial Sugar Industry Programs, 1945-58

Conclusion: Shaping China’s Economic Nation on the Eve ofWar




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