Lundi 28 septembre 2015, Salle de réunion de l’IAO (R66), de 14h à 15h30
"The Woolen Industry in Modern China : A preliminary study"
Carles Brasó Broggi, Associate Professor, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Résumé : Sheep rearing is a staple sector in Western China, especially in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Inner Mongolia. However, the majority of the Chinese population has shown little interest in woolen clothes, preferring padded cotton and furs to seek protection from the cold. When several Chinese ports were opened to foreign trade in the mid-19th Century, British traders unloaded woolen fabrics for the Chinese market. However, despite their high ambitions of clothing 400 million of consumers, their sales were rather limited to the treaty ports. Meanwhile, American merchants engaged in exporting raw wool to supply their carpet manufacturing industry, and the Japanese strengthened wool rearing in the Manchu regions and Shandong. Before the First World War, all Chinese attempts to engage in producing mass woolen cloth for the Chinese population failed. Despite ensuring contracts for the Qing and Republican armies, these first industrial undertakings closed short after their foundation and it was only in the 1920s and 1930s when some woolen companies of the Yangzi Delta and Tianjin developed factories with the strength to compete against the British goods in the treaty ports. But these more successful experiments were not focused towards the majority of the Chinese population, but rather to the more sophisticated urban markets of the coast, like Shanghai, which became the textile industry and modern consumption center. Besides, these woolen companies did not use raw wools from the Western regions, that kept being exported, but they preferred to use imported finer wools. As a conclusion, the evolution of the Chinese woolen industry shows the problems and dilemmas of China’s modernization, such as the regional unbalances and country’s progressive integration into the international economy.