No Great Wall: Trade, Tariffs, and Nationalism in Republican China, 1927-1945 | Wilson Center
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No Great Wall: Trade, Tariffs, and Nationalism in Republican China, 1927-1945

No Great Wall, an in-depth study of Nationalist tariff policy, fundamentally challenges the widely accepted idea that the key to the Communist seizure of power in China lay in the incompetence of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government. It argues instead that during the second Sino-Japanese War, China’s international trade, the Nationalist government’s tariff revenues, and hence its fiscal policy and state-making project all collapsed. Drawing on the historical lessons of his research, Felix Boecking will also discuss the unintended consequences of protectionism, the difficulties of strategizing trade wars, and the differences between trade wars and real wars.

Felix Boecking is a Senior Lecturer in Modern Chinese Economic and Political History at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and currently a Fellow at the Wilson Center. Among his research interests are China’s political economy, the history of economics in the People’s Republic of China, and the history of China’s foreign relations. His current project at the Wilson Center is “Economics on the Edge: An Intellectual History of Economists in the PRC since 1949.”

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest and the George Washington University History Department for their support.



  • Christian F. Ostermann

    Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
    Woodrow Wilson Center
  • Eric Arnesen

    Professor of History, The George Washington University


  • Felix Boecking

    Senior Lecturer (UK), Associate Professor (US) in Modern Chinese Economic and Political History, University of Edinburgh