UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Provincial and local financial systems of the Republic of China, 1912-1946 Tsai, Elbe


An attempt is made in this thesis to describe and analyze the development of municipal and provincial finances in China from 1912 to 1946. The major emphasis is placed upon the financial history of the municipalities. Of these there are five distinct types. The Hsien is by far the most numerous type, and is stressed in accordance with its importance. In a period of turbulent and often chaotic political conditions such as China has experienced in the last forty years, it was inevitable that political considerations would have a crucial bearing upon efforts to construct a stable system of municipal finance. Naturally, therefore, a considerable portion of the thesis is taken up with the influence of political events upon municipal and provincial finances. The brief period of extreme centralization under Yuan Shih-kai was followed after his death in 1916 by a decade of civil war. In this period provincial war lords tried to concentrate as much power in their grasp as possible. The municipalities were very hard pressed for adequate independent sources of revenue, and the provincial governments showed scant consideration for their needs. The Kuomintang party came to power in 1927 after a severe struggle against the provincial war lords. This party remained in power until the present civil war. Partly to aid the municipal governments which urgently needed assistance, and partly to lessen the power of provincial governments, Kuomintang leaders undertook to strengthen the financial position of the municipal governments. Four national financial conferences were held between 1928 and 1946 with a view to achieving a reasonable division of revenues and expenditures. Among the three levels of government these conferences were held in 1928, 1934, 1941 and 1946. The obstacles to achieving a reasonable solution of the problem were accentuated greatly by the advent of the Sino-Japanese war which began in 1934. The violent inflation which arose during and after this war was a paramount issue at the last two financial Conferences. Gratifying progress was made at these Conferences. Indeed at the conclusion of the 1946 Conference, it seemed that a satisfactory balance of financial power would be achieved for the National, Provincial and Municipal governments. The present civil war has obliterated for the time being at least, any prospect for an early and effective solution to the financial problems of China.

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