Seventh Asian Studies Conference Japan
    Saturday, June 21-Sunday 22, 2003
    Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University



ASCJ Executive Committee
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Inaugural conference 
1998 conference
1999 conference
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2002 conference
2003 conference

Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181


Session 18
The International Order of Asia in the 1930s and 1950s
Organizer/Chair: Tomoko Shiroyama, Hitotsubashi University

This session investigates the nature and formation of the international order of Asia in the 1930s and 1950s from new perspectives on Asian economic history and international relations. It examines three research subjects that are closely related to one another. The first is metropolitan-peripheral relationships in Asia in the 1930s and 1950s. We focus in particular on the role of British pound-sterling area from the 1930s to the 1950s. Our goal is to explore the economic linkages between the British Empire, the sterling area, and Asian countries, and to consider their economic and political implications for the development of Asia.

The second subject is the formation of inter-regional trade relations within Asia in the 1930s and their revival and transformation in the 1950s. Region-wide economic ties crossing borders of nation states have attracted much academic interest. We will consider in detail the impact of intra-Asian trade on the international order of Asia, and its linkage with the capitalist world-economy.

The third issue is that of continuity and discontinuity between the 1930s and the 1950s. As many nation-states newly emerged in Asia in the 1940s and 1950s, politically there appears to have been little continuity. However, looking at economic relations, we identify some consistent factors, such as currencies' links to pound-sterling. We investigate these former neglected aspects of continuity and transformation in order to provide critical insights into the political economy of the region from the pre-World War II period to the beginning of the cold war.

1) Tomoko Shiroyama, Hitotsubashi University. "China's Relations with the International Financial System in the 20th Century: Historical Analysis and Contemporary Implications"

The first half of the 1930s, including the years following the Great Depression, marked a major shift in the Chinese economy in terms of China's position in the international system and the Chinese government's intervention in the domestic economy. Until November 1935, China was virtually the only country in the international monetary system still adhering to the silver standard. Fluctuations in the international price of silver in the 1930s destabilized its economy. Establishing a new monetary system, the foreign exchange standard, required committed government intervention. Ultimately, the process of economic recovery and monetary change politicized the entire Chinese domestic economy. Investigating China's relationship with the international financial system and its influence on domestic political economy, this paper seeks to offer critical insights into China's position in the East Asian economy as well as modern Chinese state-market relations.

Although there existed close economic interdependence between East Asian countries, political conflicts were tense over territory, naval force, trade, and so on. Taking China's currency reform in 1935 as a case, this paper investigates how Chinese politicians formulated economic policies under the complex international relations in the area. It argues that the legacy of the currency reform remained in the 1950s, and the international monetary system continued to influence the policies of People's Republic of China as well as of Taiwan.

2) Shigeru Akita, Osaka University of Foreign Studies. "British Economic Interests and the International Order of Asia in the 1930s"

This paper evaluates the role of the United Kingdom in the formation of the international order of Asia in the 1930s. I will analyze British economic relationships with Japan, China and British India, and also connect these countries with one another.

In the context of British imperial history, British India has been recognized as a core colony in the British 'formal empire', while China has been regarded as a typical example of 'informal empire' in the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. The term 'informal empire' was mainly applied to areas and regions of the non-European developing countries, while its original definition assumed the unequal political and economic status of these countries. However, the British overseas influence ranged far beyond the confines of formal and informal empires, due to the global network of the City of London and the influence of its financial and service sectors in the capitalist world-economy. In the 1930s, the United Kingdom continued to exert financial influence upon Japan and the colonies of other Great Powers through the sterling area, by setting 'the rules of the game' for international finance in East Asia. At that time, the Chinese Nationalist Government partly manipulated the balance of power in East Asia as a newly emerging nation-state. Given these complexities, I will propose new concepts such as 'structural power' and 'relational power' in order to perceive autonomous activities by the non-European countries as well as illuminate the extent of British influence upon international relations.

3) Toru Kubo, Shinshu University. "China's Economic Development and the International Order in Asia, 1930s-50s"

China is one of the most important players in the international order of Asia, while China's economy itself is also strongly influenced by the Asian regional economic situation. This is not only true in the twenty first century, but it was also the case from the 1930s to the 1950s, and suggests that we should pay special attention to China's economy and its relationship with Asia. This paper focuses on the various strategies and policies pursued to promote China's economic development from the 1930s to the 1950s, and examines their effects on China's foreign trade, especially on her trade with Asian countries.
Due to the differences of such strategies and the influence of the war, the direction of imports, which was mainly for machinery or equipment for industrialization, changed drastically. In spite of this shift in the countries that were the main sources for imports, we can find a consistent trend in exports during the period from the 1930s to the 1950s. China exported large volumes of light industrial goods and primary products to Southeast Asian countries almost every year except for the unusual decrease in 1942-1946 caused by war. China's export excess was due to the trade with Southeast Asian countries.

Through this brief exploration we can see the importance of the links between Chinese development and the Asian regional economy, and can begin to gain a better appreciation for why we need to see Chinese development within the context of Asia.


list of panels