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Overseas connections as a blessing: Goods distribution and survival strategies in Mao's China, 1957–1962

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Author: Tao, Siling
Overseas connections played a mixed role in the Mao period, sometimes helping families while often causing them political trouble. Using Quanzhou, Fujian, a region with a high concentration of overseas Chinese and returnees, as a case study and focusing on the late 1950s and early 1960s, this thesis goes beyond the narrative of "political victimization" and illustrates utilitarian aspects of overseas connections. For domestic overseas Chinese, overseas connections could be a privilege, a bargaining chip, and a way to get access to more overseas products. In the centralized distribution system, the state prioritized people with overseas connections in exchange for more remittances. Nevertheless, rather than passively accepting the state's arrangement, domestic overseas Chinese used overseas connections to bargain with the state for more daily commodities. Overseas Chinese also went beyond the formal distribution system and developed informal distribution networks through their access to the capitalist world. They became the potential smugglers to whom customs officials paid special attention. They were also the active suppliers and purchasers on the "black" market. Overseas connections made Quanzhou a relative resource rich area. Not only domestic overseas Chinese but also ordinary residents could benefit economically from the extensive distribution networks.
70 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Brown, Jeremy
Thesis advisor: Cheek, Timothy
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