Chinese Industrial Cooperatives

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Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (Chinese: 工業合作社; pinyin: Gōngyè Hézuòshè) (INDUSCO) were organisations established by a movement, involving various Western expatriates, to promote grass roots industrial and economic development in China. The movement was especially active in the 1930s and 1940s with bipartisan support from both the left and right wings of Chinese politics. The movement was led through the Chinese Industrial Cooperative Association (CIC) founded in 1938, and its international arm the International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (known as Gung Ho - ICCIC). The movement disappeared after the 1950s due to suppression by the People's Republic of China government, but CIC and Gung Ho-ICCIC were revived in the 1980s and are still active today.

In the English-speaking world, the Industrial Cooperatives' best known legacy is perhaps the transliteration Gung-ho.

History[edit]

The Chinese Industrial Cooperative Association was formally established in August, 1938 in Hankow, then the wartime capital of China. The goal was to replace industrial capacity lost to bombing, but to do so by dispersing and giving workers voting shares in their CIC.

Some of the principal organizers were Rewi Alley of New Zealand; Edgar Snow, Nym Wales (Helen Foster Snow), and Ida Pruitt of the USA and a group of Chinese including Hu Yuzhi and Sha Qianqi. Through the sponsorship of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Finance Minister Dr. H. H. Kung supplied government financial support.

The slogan "gonghe" (Gung Ho) was created, which also became popular in English. The phrase translates: "Work Together!" but its use in English is rather to express whole-hearted devotion to a cause.

The CIC organized small scale self-supporting cooperatives, mainly in rural areas, to create employment for workers and refugees and goods to support the War of Resistance against the Japanese.[1]

In January, 1939 The International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (the Gung Ho International Committee, or, ICCIC) was established in Hong Kong. Ida Pruitt toured the United States to raise substantial financial support. The number of cooperatives reached its peak in 1941 at approximately 3,000 cooperatives with a membership of approximately 300,000. Their factories mainly produced blankets, uniforms and other army supplies.

Both the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek and the Communist movement of Mao Zedong supported the movement and tried to control it. Alley placated the Nationalists but his sympathies and eventual loyalties were to the emerging Communist government. (Chiang fired him in 1942). After Mao’s victory in 1949 Alley stayed in China, but there was no need for the CIC and ICCIC. Work was suspended in 1952, but in 1983 a new CIC was formed, and a new Gung Ho – ICCIC was formed in 1987.

An excellent discussion of the CICs appears in Graham Peck's book Two Kinds of Time (1950). Peck traveled with Alley to a number of CICs early in 1941 and was able to see them at their height, but as his experience grew he came to understand their limitations and the fact that their course was ultimately downwards, not upwards, for a variety of reasons.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Anne-Marie Brady, Friend of China: The Myth of Rewi Alley (London; New York: Routledge Curzon, 2002, ISBN 978-0700714933): 30-31.

References[edit]