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China's War on Smuggling: Law, Economic Life, and the Making of the Modern State, 1842–1965 (Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University) Hardcover – June 12, 2018

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Editorial Reviews


Philip Thai skillfully explores how smuggling remade the Chinese state by enabling it to establish better protection of its borders and its revenues and by standardizing regulations; he also examines the ways that political and economic disruptions constantly challenged this process. Thai weaves together a creative combination of social, political, economic, and legal history, ranging from a sophisticated technical discussion of tariff autonomy to a clever explication of the visual representation of smuggling in the public imagination of 1930s China. The combination of a broad theme―illicit economic activities interacting with state power―with many smaller case studies of smuggling incidents brings the story alive. -- Elisabeth Köll, University of Notre Dame

Breaking chronological and geographic conventions, this important book places Nationalist-period state-building and the struggle for sovereignty in a framework of the long-term growth of infrastructural state power in China. By linking the rise of policing, legal regulation of production and consumption, and government intrusion in the economy with the operation of markets and economic life, Philip Thai accomplishes the remarkable feat of a fresh perspective on China from the bottom to top. -- Brett Sheehan, University of Southern California

Thai provides a fresh, insightful take on the development of the modern state during a period of dramatic change and challenges. China’s War on Smuggling will appeal to those interested in the history of commerce, law, and criminology in modern China. -- Laurie Dickmeyer ― New Books in East Asian Studies

China’s War on Smuggling is a fascinating study of the complicated links between tariff policy, smuggling, and the development of the modern Chinese state. . . . Thai’s book will be of interest to economic and fiscal historians, but also to those concerned with how the Chinese state was able to strengthen its capacity to control markets and trade. -- Linda Grove ― The Economic History Review

Highly recommended. ― Choice

His work will be of interest for both historians and scholars of Chinese studies, especially those who seek to
understand how defiance and repression shaped and reshaped state power in China. ― Strategic Analysis

Thai makes important contributions across the fields of Qing, Republican, and PRC history, and his book will be required reading for scholars and students of late imperial and modern China. -- Peter Thilly ― Journal of Asian Studies

A remarkable history of the Chinese state’s war against coastal smuggling from the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries. ― Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

About the Author

Philip Thai is assistant professor of history at Northeastern University.

Product details

  • Publisher : Columbia University Press (June 12, 2018)
  • Language: : English
  • Hardcover : 408 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0231185847
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0231185844
  • Item Weight : 1.55 pounds
  • Dimensions : 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches

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