Cornell University

Geopolitics, Mobilization, and the Communist Monetary System in Manchuria, 1945-1949

Monday, December 4, 2023 at 4:45pm to 6:15pm

Virtual Event

Yanjie Huang , Chinese Studies, National University of Singapore

Cornell Contemporary Lecture Series

This talk discusses the rise of the Communist wartime monetary regime in post-1945 Manchuria (Dongbei). From the Sino-Japanese to the Korean War, the Chinese Communists were under constant pressure to balance wartime spending and inflations. Through a series of institutional innovations, Communist financiers such as Xue Muqiao and Chen Yun established a new monetary system suited to permanent military mobilization by backing the official currency with a basket of essential commodities and adapting the monetary-trade system to geopolitical situations. The Dongbei experience was especially critical since it marked the transition of the Communist monetary system from a wartime currency system of military mobilization to a peacetime system under a planned economy. Based on archival collections, surveys, and memoirs, this study examines how the Communist regime successfully exploited the institutional legacies of Japanese imperialism and the geopolitics of the early Cold War to secure a sound monetary basis in the decisive struggle against the KMT in post-1945 Manchuria.

China: The Central State and All Under Heaven is the theme of this semester's CCCI lecture series directed by Professor Yue (Mara) Du, History, Cornell.  At the core of the “China Dream” and China’s rise in power on the global stage is the Chinese Communist Party’s proclaimed role in the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation”—a restoration of China’s historical glory and its rightful place as a “Central State” of “All under Heaven.” To achieve this goal, China’s current leader Xi Jinping requires the party “not to forget the original intention,” which could be interpreted as either a return to Marxist-Leninist fundamentalism, to Mao’s integration of “Marx” and Legalism of China's first imperial dynasty, to Republican ethnonationalism, or to state Confucianism combined with territorial expansion in imperial China. As China’s past looms large in its present, understanding the historical relationship between the "Central State" and "All under Heaven" is critical for our analysis of China’s economy, society, politics, and international engagement at the present and in the future. 

The Cornell Contemporary China Initiative lecture series is co-sponsored by The Levinson China and Asia-Pacific Studies Program, Cornell Society for the Humanities, and the Department of History.

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, East Asia Program, China and Asia-Pacific Studies, Cornell China Center



Cornell Contemporary China Initiative
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Amala Lane


Yanjie Huang

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National University of Singapore

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