Talk:Economic history of China before 1912

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former good article Economic history of China before 1912 was one of the History good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject China / History (Rated B-class, Top-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject China, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of China related articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Top  This article has been rated as Top-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by WikiProject Chinese history (marked as Top-importance).
WikiProject Economics (Rated B-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Economics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Economics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject History (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject History, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of the subject of History on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Guild of Copy Editors
WikiProject icon A version of this article was copy edited by Baffle_gab1978, a member of the Guild of Copy Editors. The Guild welcomes all editors with a good grasp of English and Wikipedia's policies and guidelines to help in the drive to improve articles. Visit our project page if you're interested in joining! If you have questions, please direct them to our talk page.

Not Disambiguation Page[edit]

This page clearly is not a disambiguation page in it's current form, I applaud it's current form as not a disambiguation page even though it is without necessary sources.--Keerllston 04:14, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Complete revamp coming[edit]

see the title.Teeninvestor (talk) 21:53, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Where are the citations?[edit]

You have six citations so far, yet you have about 60 KB of prose text? Are you going to go through every single one of these sentences and place proper citations? It's good to add citations immediately after you write a sentence. Otherwise, over time, you may come back and completely forget the page number or even the source used for the statement.

Also, I'd like to contribute to the Han section, but I have to level with you, Teeninvestor, this article will simply become unacceptable in terms of size. You are literally going to have to eliminate all the subsections, and just create small summaries of each period (by dynastic title and then modern age). You cannot have sections that are this large. Please read WP:SIZE. If you ever want this article to become a featured one, you are going to have to master the arts of summarization, condensing material, and cherry-picking info from sources that you find the most relevant, because you simply cannot include everything. I hope you can change course as soon as possible.--Pericles of AthensTalk 09:16, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

My plan for Economic history of China[edit]

Sorry I have been negligent in adding citations. My stocks were tanking and I was in distress for several days. My plan is to add citations after I finish the article. Anyways, my plan is this. First, I want to pack as much info as I can in. Then, you and others can help me pick the relevant points. The excess info will be transferred to articles such as Economic history of pre-Qin China, Economic history of Absolutist China, Economic history of post-Tang China, etc... Then what is left will be retained as the main article. Anyways, I am still a bit distressed/I hope you can help me a bit, sorry for incoveniencing you. As you can see I am writing overview sections for each dynasty and adding in details as I go. Once the article is finished the overview sections will be part of the article and the details will go in a seperate article. Teeninvestor (talk) 01:22, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

沒問題; there's no need to apologize, Teeninvestor. Sorry to hear about your losses. I did not know about your plan to transfer info to later articles, such as Economy of Absolutist China, Post-Tang, etc, but I think it is a good idea. I will add info for the Han section, but it will come slowly, as I have work to do tonight and will be busy tomorrow until about 5:00 pm.--Pericles of AthensTalk 03:58, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

Chinese phrases needed[edit]

Teen, the article needs phrases inserted at the right places. For example, 井田, 佃農, 指南針, 活版印字術, 科舉, 大航海, 帝皇思想, 儒家, 法家, plus heaps of other words.

Like PoA mentioned, there is simply too much info to be crammed into one article, so you need to create other sub-article to carry these info. But the overall theme is good, I like the way you talk about things, though you need lots of citations to support. Arilang talk 20:39, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Teen, I put my comments inside brackets, I hope you don't mind. Arilang talk 21:54, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Missing sections[edit]

Teen, the comparison of GDP with others is also very important:

  1. Comparison of GDP between outsiders and Ming, Qing, ROC pre 1949, PRC pre Deng Xiaoping era. These comparison can show the true economic situation.
  2. I still think you need to cut down lots of politic reference, or try to be very brief. Like PoA mentioned, you just cannot put too much info into one article. Arilang talk 06:02, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Note: See my plan to split it into three articles above.Teeninvestor (talk) 14:39, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

To do list[edit]

Add pictures Add citations Expand Ming, Qing, ROC, PRC sections.Teeninvestor (talk) 13:49, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

We need something like 300 more citations(only 254 so far).Teeninvestor (talk) 14:08, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

I just left a short gallery of pics on your talk page for you to start with. Put them where you like. I'll snoop around Wikimedia Commons for more pictures later.--Pericles of AthensTalk 19:57, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Thanks.Teeninvestor (talk) 20:03, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

K, I've added many citations and expanded the Ming, Qing, ROC sections. Next thing to do: 1. add pics. 2. Expand PRC section.Teeninvestor (talk) 21:43, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

I just added a new source recently by Donald and Benewick (2005), adding a couple citations from it. I also added a lot of new pictures (as you've probably noticed).--Pericles of AthensTalk 19:58, 20 May 2009 (UTC)


Sorry, but this article is entirely too long; it takes a long time even to scroll through the TOC. If you can't find a way to shorten what's already there, then you should split it into separate articles (for example, Economic history of the Tang dynasty, etc.) and leave this as basically just a short outline with {{main}} links. rʨanaɢ talk/contribs 14:56, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Ya, see sections above. That was the plan.Teeninvestor (talk) 19:52, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Considering the scope of the article, I think this article should be kept at its current size(in fact, expansion to c.200 kb seems to be necessary).Teeninvestor (talk) 22:45, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree that this article is far too long! Some important information is also missing, but before expanding any further, a lot of unnecessary text should be cut. The introduction to the section on the "Absolutist Era", for example, is *far* too long (more than 10,000 bytes). This would be too long even as a lead to an entire article, let alone a single section. 2000 bytes should be plenty, since lead paragraphs don't need to go over the economic performance of every dynasty in so much detail. Moreover, all these dynasties and periods are introduced all over again in their own sub-sections below! This looks redundant.
In all these lead paragraphs, focus on a few large economic trends (there's far too much on politics) and avoid mentioning Han Wudi, Cao Cao, Ran Min, etc. by name: these names (and all the historical events that go with them) are superfluous in the introduction to a single section in a survey article.
As a survey, this article should only mention the most important economic trends without giving too much detail. In many sub-sections, there seems to be too much historical contextualization and not enough economic info. One example: in the 817-bytes sub-section called State of the economy in North China after Ran Min's cull order, the only two words related to the economy are "agriculture revived."
Remove all the long citations. The longest one is a long comparative explanation about the superiority of Chinese plows over European ones (see end of the sub-section called Agricultural Boom). In addition to being off-topic, this citation is just too long for an article of this sort. One footnoted sentence on the quality of Chinese plows would be sufficient.
Anyway, you get the gist. If you cut most of the intro sections by 75%, cut the unnecessary political details, you'll be under 100 bytes in no time and have more space to add relevant details, especially on neglected periods like the Qing. Judging from this article, it would seem that the only standard of economic success is percentage of world GDP, and that the Qing were just backward-looking barbarian book-burners who killed all meaningful economic activities. This narrative is factually wrong and outdated by about 100 years, but I guess this issue is not about length, so I'll stop right here! Cheers, Madalibi (talk) 02:14, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Cut out intro, but it's still about 156 Kb, so I need to cut out another 20kb. Oh well.Teeninvestor (talk) 11:44, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Trimmed to 142kb. Needs to trim another 40kb-ish. urgh.Teeninvestor (talk) 12:26, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Hi Teeninvestor. Whoa! Great job so far at reducing size. Keep at it! Another possible way of downsizing: I think you could reduce the Han Dynasty section by half. As it is now, the Han section is much longer than the Economics section of the Han Dynasty article and it has more sections than the Economy of the Han Dynasty wiki (which is now a featured article, by the way). Reducing the Han section will be a bit difficult because you need to summarize rather than just cut parts. Thank you, by the way, for writing this article. It's not perfect, but it's a very good start, and we now have a frame and some concrete information to work with. Keep up the good work! Madalibi (talk) 12:38, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
Wow! I can't believe this is the same article. Its prose size has been reduced considerably. Great work, Teeninvestor! I hope you like all of the new pictures I added as well. Also, hi Madalibi! Haven't seen you around in a long time. Glad to see you are still poking your head in every once in a while. Since Economy of the Han Dynasty is now featured and Government of the Han Dynasty is nominated, I will probably make a Featured Topic out of Han Dynasty sooner or later (like I did for Song Dynasty).--Pericles of AthensTalk 13:30, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Considering the vast scope of the article[edit]

Maintain at 140kb-ish? Since the Ming Dynasty article is about 140kb(and this article has a much more broad scope) I think the article should be maintained at a size of about 140kb(it's also getting harder to cut stuff out). What do you think? The PRC section will be expanded in the future, so it s advisable to cut back to about 130-140kb. The final size will be around 140kb.Teeninvestor (talk) 19:18, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

WP:SIZE does not state anything about guidelines for the overall size of the article. However, it does state that an article's prose size should not exceed 100 KB. The Ming Dynasty is nowhere near 141 KB prose size; the Ming Dynasty's prose size is at 83 KB, while it's overall article size is at 137 KB. This article's prose size is roughly 140 KB. See the gigantic difference? I hate to say this (since you've put so much work into this article), but you still have roughly 40 KB of text to cleave from this article before it scratches the bare minimum of acceptable size limits for any article at Wiki. In fact, WP:SIZE says that for any article with over 60 KB of prose, a split into several articles should be considered. Your best option is to split this article into several articles, and summarize them here at this article.--Pericles of AthensTalk 19:51, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

What is the prose size defined as?Teeninvestor (talk) 19:53, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Prose is the main body of text; this excludes the lead or introduction, all pictures and picture captions, all reference headings, all citations, all references, all see also links and external links, templates, tables, encoded markups, and invisible categories.--Pericles of AthensTalk 19:55, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

K, new idea: Split into two articles: Economic history of Premodern China(up to the end of the Qing) and Economic history of Modern China(1911-now). I think that should remove about 40kb of text.Teeninvestor (talk) 19:58, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

This article's prose text I think is about 120kb(excluding pictures, citations, lead, etc..). We've already taken out close to a third of the article(a lot of it was as Madalibi pointed out redundant anyways).Teeninvestor (talk) 19:59, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Yes, you did a fine job cutting the article down to size thus far. As for your split into two articles, that sounds fine. Make sure to collaborate this effort with Economy of Taiwan and Economy of the People's Republic of China. Make sure to summarize the info that you cut out of this article.--Pericles of AthensTalk 20:01, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

This article is now only about 116kb large. Cutting out the citations and pictures, I think we're in the limit of about 100kb. Ming Dynasty had non-prose of 53kb. If we even have non-prose of about half of that, the text in this article is 90kb, which is inside the limit.Teeninvestor (talk) 20:08, 20 May 2009 (UTC)


当提及为什么魏可以统一天下的时候,有一个原因是不能忽略的,那就是曹操的经济改革,而其中很重要的一项就是屯田制的实行.这不仅使魏的粮食得到了积累, 社会生产力也大步的发展了,使魏的经济走在其他各国的前头.正是这种物质和经济的双重保障,为后来魏一统天下做出了不可磨灭的贡献.

Teen, 屯田 is a very important 制度, looks like it is missing. Arilang talk 22:49, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

I believe this is covered under "military agriculture"Teeninvestor (talk) 22:54, 17 May 2009 (UTC)


No article is perfect. I only put the work on this article after about two months of working on it in userspace. Right now I'm still working on it. Don't revert it just because it's not perfect yet. Geez.Teeninvestor (talk) 11:37, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

It's also way better than the other economic historie and the previous version, which had no citations.Teeninvestor (talk) 12:20, 19 May 2009 (UTC)


I changed back the article's name because it is unencyclopedic to have "Economic history of China" to serve as a redirect to "Economic history of Premodern China", not to mention such title simply sounds awkward and we shouldn't borrow names directly from another source either ( This article should cover economic periods from the Republic to the People's Republic, but the length needs to be trimmed because there are separate articles for them already.--Balthazarduju (talk) 20:40, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Teeninvestor, I highly suggest you not to split the article, but to move sizeable information into Economy of People's Republic of China article and Economy of Taiwan article, if there is a lot of information. But you seriously need to trim this article's size and summarize it so it isn't this "long", and it needn't be. Economy of Republic of China and People's Republic of China should also covered in this article as this article is supposed to be about an overview of the whole economic history of China.--Balthazarduju (talk) 20:48, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

I didn't borrow names from another source. However, it is very difficult to continue trimming without cutting out half of the sections of all the other articles, and I've already created the article Economic history of Modern China, so the split is already done, I'm afraid.Teeninvestor (talk) 21:17, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Please be VERY careful[edit]

Teen, I think you've created a bigger mess than is necessary. You have to be very careful when you shift a lot of material to a new article and do redirects. For example, the new source I added today is still listed in the references of this article, even though it is not used here, but it is now lost (or you simply forgot to add it) in your new article, Economic history of Modern China, even though it is used there! The source is:

  • Donald, Stephanie Hemelryk and Robert Benewick. (2005). The State of China Atlas: Mapping the World's Fastest Growing Economy. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. ISBN 0520246276.

I think it would be better to have one large Economic history of China article that summarizes both Premodern China and Modern China, which could both have separate articles. In fact, that's what I thought your plan was all along.--Pericles of AthensTalk 21:23, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Getting confused here[edit]

K. Here's the current system.

Original article has been split into Economic history of China(pre-1911) and Economic history of Modern China. Economic history will redirect to the first article, but a notice at the top will show that for modern developments you go to Economic history of Modern China.

The reason I did this is that I will be getting several new sources that I will be expanding the ROC and PRC sections with. If such an expansion occurs, the article will become simply too large to handle. Therefore I decided to split it into 2 articles, 1 ancient and 1 modern.

Another way we can do this is to keep the ROC and PRC information in the article, and then I'll expand it there. But if that happens, the article will expand to 140kb-ish, and although right now It's probably only a bit bigger than the Ming in Prose size(before split), an expansion with the sources will bring it higher.

A third way is to leave the two articles as they currently are, and create a new Economic history of China article that summarizes both premodern and modern and redirects to them. Teeninvestor (talk) 21:29, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Well, as long as you clean things up a bit and make sure the sources listed in the ref sections are placed in the right articles, then I think your current model will be fine.--Pericles of AthensTalk 21:39, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Size issues solved[edit]

I followed the instructions on WP:SIZE and it showed that this article's prose size did not exceed 91 kilobytes, as shown by this link Teeninvestor (talk) 21:53, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Well I think that this whole article(s) is a big mess. So now we have Economic history of China redirecting to Economic history of China (Pre-1911), and so if you want to read about economic history of China after 1911, there is a link somewhere else. How convenient. This article could've easily be summarized as to include the "entire" economic history of China without getting this long. Just trim the sections! There are already very detailed articles about Economy of Han Dynasty, Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, so these periods doesn't even need a lot of coverage! There are so many large, rambling, almost incoherent paragraphs on this article, it makes the article almost unreadable.--Balthazarduju (talk) 21:58, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
I suggest make this article just a summary of economic history of China (and rename it back to Economic history of China), and that includes brief summary of economy of Republic of China and People's Republic of China. You can add your new, extensive information about modern economy to articles: Economy of the People's Republic of China, Economic history of the People's Republic of China, Economic History of the Republic of China. These are the articles you need to add your information to, not create another article titled Economic history of Modern China, which, would results in so many links about the economy/economic history of China that it is getting kind of ridiculous.--Balthazarduju (talk) 21:58, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Well if we keep Economic history of Modern China here, something like 22 kb will have to be shaved off. Also, Economic history of the People's Republic of China is truly a coherent, rambling mess(it only goes up to 1987, and isn't even as detailed as the history section in Economy of the People's Republic of China, which is already too large for wikipedia standards.) Economic history of the Republic of China doesn't even freckin exist, and creating it would spark a massive conflict with Economic history of Taiwan and it would also be unambigious(i only have info going up to 1949).

Or if you really think so, I'll have to look over Economic history of the People's Republic of China and revamp it totally, but that article is just a mess and I want to take a break after working on Economic history of China(the former article) for two months! Geez. Teeninvestor (talk) 22:00, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Xia Dynasty?[edit]

I thought there was no direct archaeological evidence to suggest that the house of Xia even existed, and that what may be regarded as the Xia was only the Erlitou culture, which nonetheless did have bronze production and built palatial-like buildings. After all, China's first written script, the oracle bone script, didn't even exist until the middle of the Shang Dynasty. How is it confirmed that the Xia Dynasty was a real political entity without a contemporary written record to prove so?--Pericles of AthensTalk 22:05, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

All Chinese history books, as far as I am aware of, has a section on the Xia and I just put info from Xia on here.Teeninvestor (talk) 22:06, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Sure, every Chinese history book after the Shiji, but one has to remember that Sima Qian was writing the history of the Xia more than a thousand years after it allegedly existed. There's no written record before that of Sima Qian's which describes the Xia at such length; one has to consider the historical authenticity of the entire dynasty. However, the Shang is in a safe ballpark; the Shang actually left written records behind on bone which hold the names of their kings (so we do know that they lived and existed). If the Xia existed at all, they certainly would have been unable to do likewise, since writing was not yet invented.--Pericles of AthensTalk 22:11, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Even though there are some minimal evidence of Xia's actual existence, and it certainly is in traditional Chinese recorded history, it lacks concrete archeological evidence to support it. But honestly, the entire Feudal section (and the whole article) is rather poorly written, so that is the least of its problem for me. The article is honestly way too rambling, and I doubt many people would want to or can read the whole thing.--Balthazarduju (talk) 22:23, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Rambling? Hardly. The prose is not more than many other articles in WP:CHINA. But the feudal section does need to be expanded.Teeninvestor (talk) 22:31, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Suggestions for improving the article[edit]

Put them here.Teeninvestor (talk) 16:23, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

I would put the following as a footnote, rather than up so high: 'The Financial Times noted that "China has been the world’s largest economy for 18 of the past 20 centuries",[5][6] while according to The Economist, "China was not only the largest economy for much of recorded history, but until the 15th century, it also had the highest income per capita — and was the world’s technological leader."' Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 05:36, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
like, an explanatory footnote?Teeninvestor (talk) 14:55, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

I agree. It kind of plunges into it without laying a foundation. The introduction should be recrafted, with this being in a different part of the introduction. Tell us why its been the largest economy first and then in conclusion mention this. Ltwin (talk) 02:02, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

I tried turning it into a footnote but it didn't work for some reason.Teeninvestor (talk) 02:05, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

In my opinion, it doesn't necessarily have to be a footnote, just no the first sentence. It is better if instead of just being told "China has had the largest economy for much of human history", that the reader is shown that it has had the largest economy. For that reason it probably shouldn't be the very first thing in the introduction.
The beginning of the first paragraph should began, if it can be phrased like this, with "The economic history of China before 1911..." or something along those lines. Also I've looke at a reference given - Li and Zheng (2001). I'm aware that this might be an acceptable style but for alot of readers, this makes it really hard to simply know where the information is coming from. Are these the authors of a book or the title of a book itself? Why should a reader have to search on google to find information when it could have just been given by the contributing editor instead? Ltwin (talk) 02:31, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

The reference Li and Zheng(2001) is used to refer to the Li Bo, Zheng Yin, 5000 years source in the works section.Teeninvestor (talk) 19:24, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Emergence of cities一段中Er li to是否指“二里頭”,也許應該拼作"Er Li Tou"?中文參考資料是否用拼音轉寫好點,不然的話不易確定原始標題。--Icesea(talk) 07:42, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

The article on the Mongols and Yuan Dynasty seem a bit rhetorical and centered around Han Chauvinism. Granted that the Mongols were ruthless in their initial invasions, it's rather ahistorical to ostracize them. Han armies during civil war caused just as much as devastation during their invasions yet somehow the Mongols get all the negative criticism associated with their conquests and the creation of the empire. Also in regards to the population drop during the Mongol era, I think this article along with most others due to conventional wisdom highly underestimate the plagues/epidemic factor. As most people should know, microbes kill far more than any type of violence. Historians like William McNeill in his groundbreaking book "Plagues and Peoples" not only mentions this but outright quotes the assertions. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:46, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm doing a copyedit now and I'm seeing a lot in this article that doesn't seem to be related to the economic history of China. A great deal of the article could be cut out and/or moved to other articles. In the pieces about Early China, there's some political and military stuff that doesn't need to be there.--McKorn (talk) 13:54, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

Thanks McKorn.Teeninvestor (talk) 18:50, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

The article references the "European Agricultural Revolution." Could this be disambiguated (see link)?

All the footnotes should appear after commas (",") and periods ("."), as per Wikipedia:Manual_of_style#Punctuation_and_inline_citations and Wikipedia:Footnotes#Ref_tags_and_punctuation. Madalibi (talk) 03:43, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm trying to take care of that while doing a general copyedit. Cheers! Scapler (talk) 07:29, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Economic history of China (Pre-1911)/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Starting review sub-page.--Patar knight - chat/contributions 17:44, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

First off, kudos to the hard work that's been done on this article - it's much better than when I first saw it! That being said, the length of the article might be problematic. Not in the sense that it's too long, but that there's a lot of information to verify and could prove difficult for something so huge to fit all the criteria.

  1. Is it reasonably well written?
    A. Prose quality:
    Prose throughout is generally good, but the tone can be a tad unencyclopedic at times. Not a huge issue for GA though.
    B. MoS compliance:
    MoS is fine, and not an issue here. Many key concepts and figures need to be linked, however.
  2. Is it factually accurate and verifiable?
    A. References to sources:
    Update1 - Footnotes are now shortened and concise with publication dates, references in alphabetical order.
    No serious problems here, but some of the citations in the footnotes don't really need the entire bibliographical information in there every time, just author and publishing date.
    B. Citation of reliable sources where necessary: Update -
    Update1 - Article has been edited to reflect a more diverse range of sources, citations are now used more frequently. Reliance on single source has been adequately reduced. One questionable source removed. This article now passes this criteria.
    This is where most of my problems lie.
    - This article has a good number of citations, but one must keep its length in mind. With so much information, there needs to be more citations in the article is to keep some of its statements. It is not always clear whether the citation at the end of a paragraph accounts for the entire paragraph, or just the final sentence. Consider citing the same page(s) more than once if something is sensitive/debatable.
    - Another major issue here is that the article is overly dependent on a single book (Li Bo; Zheng Yin (2001)). It would seem that many subsections are directly sourced from it and that the entire article seemed to be centered around it, with additional cites from other sources as mere supplement. The verification issues for something that is not in English might prove too difficult, especially when it is used for so much of the article. Please consider some additional secondary sources. To save time, ask other editors involved in the same field for sources and citations.
    - Finally, I am not sure if <Jia Qing. "On the reasons why China fell behind the west".> is really a good source. It seems to be a rather unbalanced and self-researched article stemming from a somewhat ethnocentric site, and has no publishing info. However, I see that it has not been used as citation to some of the more sensitive claims, and therefore could probably be easily replaced by a better secondary source. This will prevent arguments in the future over that particular source.
    C. No original research: Update -
    Update1 - Primary source removed. This article passes this criteria.
    Only a few small adjustments is needed here to pass. Please do not interpret directly from primary sources, as was done with Sima Guang's Zizhi Tongjian. There are only two cites from it though, and could likely also be easily replaced with secondary sources.
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. Main aspects:
    As broad as they come, fantastically done.
    B. Focus on topic:
    Well, there are certainly a lot of subtopics here, but generally focus is not a problem. I see there are already sub-articles dealing with larger topics within the article.
  4. Is it neutral?
    By and large not a problem. May need to introduce some scholarly, contrasting opinions for possible FA nomination.
  5. Is it stable?
    No edit wars, few controversial edits.
  6. Does it contain images to illustrate the topic?
    A. Images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content:
    B. Images are provided where possible and appropriate, with suitable captions:
    A wide array of excellent images here, and I see the alt text was not forgotten :)
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail: Update - (Pass)
    Overall, this is a pretty good article. The bad news is the issues with sources I've outlined above. The good news is, those issues could be easily resolved. In essence, it is only a hair's breadth away from passing, in my opinion. If a few members of the Chinese-portal community were to look it over, add a diverse amount of facts from different sources, this article could well be on its way to FA. I hope this review will help the editors involved. Keep up the great work!
    Update1 - Issues have been addressed, and the article is now more than qualified for GA. I pass this article on the grounds that it ably meets all necessary criteria. Excellent work by User:Teeninvestor and other involved editors! ~ AMorozov (talk) 05:56, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

I willl keep AMorozov's suggestions in mind. I will be removing some of the unreliable/primary sources mentioned by AMorozov very soon and adding more citations. I hope these changes will be able to promote the article to GA(and then hopefully FA, after a second copyedit).Teeninvestor (talk) 12:06, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
The overly reliance on Li Bo and Zheng Yin (2001) is mostly for some eras(e.g., the 220-589 era of division) that are ill covered by acadmeic publications, which tend to focus on the unified dynasties (e.g. Song, Ming, and Tang, which have many citations from other sources). I have removed the source of Jia Qing and Zizhi Tongjian from the article in concurance of AMorozov's comments above. In addition, I have added citaitons from new sources and I have reduced the number of citations from Li and Zheng's source from 60% of the total (123 out of 220) to about 49 percent of the total (106 out of 216) I have removed 17 citations from Li and Zheng's source and replaced them with 13 citations from scholarly sources. I hope this resolves the problem of over-dependence on one source.Teeninvestor (talk) 12:22, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
In addition, I calculated the amount of citations per kilobyte for this article is about 1.96(about 216 citations per 110 kb), while the featured article Economy of the Han Dynasty has about 1.95(about 137 citations for 70kb), So I believe the number of citations is sufficient(for now) though I am working to get more scholarly citations and reducing the number of citations from Li and Zheng's source.Teeninvestor (talk) 17:18, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
In addition, I've also revamped the entire system of citations to include inline citations, as well as adding the appropriate dates for every citation.Teeninvestor (talk) 23:57, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Conclusion by User:AMorozov: PASS

Improvements needed for FA[edit]

  • 2nd copyedit(Hopefully will bring prose up to standard of FA)
  • Replace Yuan Dynasty Li/Zheng citations with Cambridge history of China(This will bring Li and Zheng's total to below 40 percent).

Add more as you see fit.Teeninvestor (talk) 13:51, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Li and Zheng citations have dropped from 106(last time) to 83, reduced by 23, while the total number of citations has gone up by 13 to 233. I have thus added 36 new citations from various sources while reducing Li and Zheng's citations, which now make up only about 35 percent of the total content of the article.Teeninvestor (talk) 19:27, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

This article has improved a lot since the last time I looked at it. Good job, everybody! I've been too busy to participate and I will remain so in the near future, but I wanted to give a few leads about how to improve the article further. Let me concentrate on what I think is the weakest section - the one on the Chinese economy from the origins to 475 BCE.
  • Speaking of the "Xia dynasty" is controversial. Some historians (mostly Chinese) accept its existence, but many don't, and say instead that it's a myth. A good Wikipedia article should mention this controversy instead of presenting one side of it as self-evident. Instead of saying that a Xia site has been found at Erlitou (not "Erli"), the wiki should discuss the economy of the "Erlitou culture" and then say that some historians have identified this site with the possibly mythical Xia dynasty.
  • The chariot appeared in archeological records in 1200 BC in the tombs of the Shang kings at Anyang. There is no archeological evidence for the existence of any kind of wheeled vehicle in Shang territory prior to that. Saying that "The first chariots were invented during the Xia dynasty" is complete fantasy. (Incidentally, at least five scholars I've read agree that the Shang adopted the chariot from outside peoples who lived either to the north or northwest of the Shang, so even saying that the chariot was "invented" in such-and-such a dynasty is inaccurate.)
  • Agriculture in "Xia," Shang, and Zhou times was based on millet, not rice. Rice dominated the Yangzi River valley, not the Yellow River valley, where "Xia," Shang and Zhou were mostly based.
  • Domesticated animals included the dog.
  • Even the historians who believe that the "well-field system" (jingtian 井田) existed (another controversy that should be explained) never say that it existed under the "Xia dynasty." They say it existed a thousand years later, under the Western Zhou (ca. 1045-771) and into the Eastern Zhou (771-256 BCE).
  • Nobody knows anything specific about the social and economic organization of the "Xia dynasty." Saying that "Xia agriculture relied on a feudal system where the landowner gave 50 mu of land to his serfs in exchange for cultivation of 5 mu of his own land" is far too specific to be based on archeological evidence, the only kind of evidence we have for pre-Shang times.
  • It's not completely clear when bronze swords became obsolete, but they were still widely used in the Spring and Autumn period. They were thoroughly replaced by steel weapons at the very end of the Warring States period.
All these errors are fairly basic, and they show (once again) how unreliable "Li and Zheng" are. The Cambridge History of Ancient China provides much better explanations of all the processes described in this page.
In general, I also think this wiki contains far too many sub-titles, especially when the text under each title is so short, as in the Xia-Shang-Zhou section. A few good explanatory paragraphs grounded in reliable sources would be better than the bunch of three-line sections we have now.
Finally, I'm pretty sure the general structure of the article will not survive an FA review. The "Feudal-Absolutist-Mercantilist" structure smuggles a strong POV interpretation of economic development into the article without grounding it in reliable sources. Until we can think of a more justifiable structure, we may have to revert to a boring chronological outline that goes dynasty by dynasty.
I hope this helps a little, even if I don't have time to help with the real editing work.
Cheers, Madalibi (talk) 06:32, 10 August 2009 (UTC)


I was going to suggest moving this to Economic history of China (pre-1911), as "pre" is not a proper noun and should not be capitalized. But I really think this would be best at Economic history of China to 1911 or Economic history of China before 1911. Any thoughts? Tuf-Kat (talk) 22:31, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

North China after Former Qin sub-section[edit]

Hi, I was working on the following paragraph, and found an anomaly:

"From 406 CE to 416 CE, Liu Yu of the Jin launched a series of expeditions that destroyed the barbarian states of Southern Yan and Later Qin, giving Jin control over nearly all of China and the capitals of Luoyang and Chang'an. Despite an unexpected defeat and the loss of Chang'an, Jin still held Luoyang along with most of the Chinese heartland. These victories led to the recovery of the Reign of Yuanjia under Liu Yu's son."

It seems from this text that Chang'an was captured from Jin by an enemy, but that isn't explained in the text. Could you please clarify this paragraph, because I don't have access to the sources and aren't an expert on the subject? Many thanks. Baffle gab1978 (talk) 07:07, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Done copy-editing[edit]

Hi, I've now done the copy-editing, having gone through the entire article and I've enjoyed working on it. I left a couple of [citation needed] tags, one in the 'Taipang Rebellion' sub-section and one in the 'Recovery of the "Kang-Qian Age"' sub-section. The text is not obviously referenced; although the ref may be nearby, it isn't obvious to me.

I think that some sub-sections could be merged to make the article more readable, especially those with only one or two sentences. Also, you could try consolidating references using ref name="xxx" - and most of the footnotes could merge with the references under one section; it seems a little random at the moment.

I'm off for a glass of wine. Cheers, and happy editing. :-) Baffle gab1978 (talk) 04:38, 28 August 2009 (UTC)


Are we using this for an economic system (in which case the word is largely meaningless), or of a political system (in which case the analogy is so weak as to be almost useless). Feudalism also seems to be used both of the central government, about things, like a strong official class, which are true of societies not feudal at all.

Manorialism has a definite meaning, at least; whether our evidence on pre-Han China will support it is another question entirely. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:55, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

Ebrey quote[edit]

I own Ebrey's Cambridge Illustrated History of China (1999), and I do not see the quote given in the first paragraph here for page 175 about China having the highest material living standards on Earth until the 18th century. Is this a simple clerical error? Perhaps the quote is on another page and Teen made a mistake, but from what I see, it is not on page 175. In fact, that page discusses ethnic groups and languages of the conquest dynasties chapter which focuses on Liao, Jin, and Yuan rule over northern China, not the history of China's economy into the 18th century.--Pericles of AthensTalk 13:49, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

My version is a Chinese version of the Cambridge illustrated history of China, and the page number is 175, in the section about the Qing Dynasty. Changed the citation to reflect that.Teeninvestor (talk) 13:58, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
Lots of careless editing, here. First, you can't have an exact quotation in English when you're translating it back from a Chinese version. Second, the name of a book's author doesn't change when the book appears in translation: the footnote should still attribute the statement to Ebrey, not her Chinese translators "Zhao et al." But the biggest problem is that Ebrey never said what the wiki quotes her as saying. The original passage is from p. 234 of the English-language edition, in the first paragraph of a section on "Maritime trade and relations with European nations":
"The balance of power slowly shifted in the eighteenth century without anyone in China taking much notice. Until 1700 China's material culture had been unrivalled; its standard of living was among the best in the world, and inventions flowed more commonly from east to west than vice versa. Yet by the nineteenth century, China found itself outmatched in material and technological resources by western nations."
This is completely different from "Until the 18th century, China enjoyed the highest material living standards on Earth." This sentence should be removed from the lead, or replaced by an accurate paraphrase of what Ebrey actually said. Madalibi (talk) 02:07, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
The 18th century takes places in the 1700's. Just as the 20th century took place in the 1900's. Dream Focus 11:30, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

Maddison rates per capita income of Europe higher than China's since 1450, while this number for the Han and Roman economies (and most of the rest) was about equal. Given the recent positive reevaluation of Roman economy, demography and technology in general, however, the Roman economic power almost certainly overshadowed Han Chinese's by quite a margin. Raymond Goldsmith (1984): "An Estimate of the Size and Structure of the National Product of the Early Roman Empire", Review of Income and Wealth, vol. 30, no. 3, September, pp. 263-288 rates the Roman economy to be the largest in history until about 1000 AD. And this is on the basis of 55 million inhabitants (current estimations range from 60-70 to 100 million). So, reality check, what makes you so sure that the Chinese economy was the largest? Especially, considering that in the period between 1300 and 1840, you won't find five new important innovations in China? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 20:31, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

Mr. Gun Powder Ma, Maddison believes India in the feudal era had a higher GDP than China or Rome (he thought that Han had a higher GDP than Rome, but India higher than Han); I wouldn't be too sure before trusting his figures. If you don't believe me, please check List of regions by past GDP(PPP).Teeninvestor (talk) 20:40, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Why quote The Economist,[edit]

Why quote The Economist with it´s poorly based information? Look at this and you'll see their statement is not based on facts: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:07, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

Remove Financial Times[edit]

I'm going to remove the quotes to Financial Times and the Economist because they have no base for their facts and the information has no place in this article. It's no true statistical fact and the wiki needs to be credible.

The world bank writes:"For a large part of the last two millennia, China was the world's largest and most advanced economy. Then it missed the Industrial Revolution and stagnated. Only after opening to the outside world in 1979 was China's economic performance again impressive."

Thats a different thing, for a large part of the last two millennia.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Tosses (talkcontribs)

You need a cite for that. Your assertions against two major newsmagazines is not convincing. Shadowjams (talk) 08:42, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

It is already quoted in the article, with source reference —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tosses (talkcontribs) 12:44, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

So is it Ok to delete? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tosses (talkcontribs) 13:04, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

  • Millennia means a thousand years. They were an economic super power for 18 of the last 20 centuries, and then when the industrial revolution came, the Western nations took the lead. Only after they opened trade to the outside world, and became to modernize their industry, did they begin to prosper once again. Dream Focus 11:26, 5 May 2010 (UTC)
Who were "they"? For large periods of its history, China was no unified country and when it was it was often ruled by foreign dynasties and powers. But anyway, people should be aware that, as one economic historian had it, there are no quarterly adjusted economic numbers for the last two millennia. To act as if these numbers were facts is deeply unprofessional, and either naive or biased. Maddison says that figures before 1750 are guess work and the margin of error in calculating values such as GDP etc. in the late 19th was still 30%. So, in the light of this, what makes people here so cocksure that China was the leading economy for the last 2000 years? Do you have access to indicators which no-one else has? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 20:32, 7 May 2010 (UTC)
You see, Gun Powder Ma, we have something called a "source" which tells us that China was the biggest economy for "much of the past two millenia", which we then use for our statements. If you do not understand this, then there goes the whole point of wikipedia. If you don't like our figures, you can get a "source" of your own.Teeninvestor (talk) 20:41, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Arbitrary date[edit]

Why 1911? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:25, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Very simple: this year marks not only the end of the Qing Dynasty, but also roughly two thousand years of Imperial rule by emperors with the creation of the modern Republic of China (and later the People's Republic). It is rational and totally acceptable to divide economy articles on these political grounds, because it marks the beginning of a new era in Chinese history. The profound changes in Chinese society brought by this new political order cannot be overstated.--Pericles of AthensTalk 02:54, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Bombastic claims[edit]

Removed this [1] PEACOCKish, bombastic claim from the lede. First, Teeninvestor inserts this [2], which then becomes this [3]. It's pretty clear that there is an agenda here and an attempt to deceive the community through the well known "small steps" tactic. The whole sentence is moreover entirely unnecessary, and the lead flows much better without it. Any knee-jerk reverting by Teeninvestor will be reported this time. Athenean (talk) 01:32, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Like you know anything about what Pomeranz said, Athenean! read what they actually said; that China's GDP per capita was higher than Britain as recently as 1800. First of all, you were the one who messed up the claim about China's GDP per capita by putting "may" in the sentence when the authors expressed no doubt. For someone that admittedly knows nil about the estimates on this matter, your accusations of "an agenda" are so completely off base its not funny.Teeninvestor (talk) 02:12, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
If that is the case, then why did you previously insert that "China's GDP equaled and may have exceeded"? Which now suddenly becomes simply "exceeded". Either you are falsifying the source the second time, or you had no idea what it said the first time. So which is it? But in any case, just because something can be sourced, doesn't mean it needs to go into the lead. Pomeranz is just one of many scholars. The lead is meant to present a summary of the article, not cherry-picked sources that highlight one user's POV. Please familiarize yourself with WP:LEAD, and WP:UNDUE. And while you're at it, you might want to look up "bombastic" in the dictionary. Athenean (talk) 05:40, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
Athenean, either you or GPM inserted that, or I made a mistake. The source is very clear on this; there is no question what Pomeranz and Bairoch thinks; in fact, they have given very precise figures about Chinese and British per capita income, 282 and 240 respectively. The figures are black and whiteTeeninvestor (talk) 02:31, 25 July 2010 (UTC)
Teeinvestor, could you explain why you have partly or fully removed every single edit I've made to the article for the last two days? These are all scholarly works, monographs by international authorities such as Angus Maddison, David Landes, Donald Wagner and David Sim or articles published in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient:
I feel your possesive edit pattern amounts to a case of WP:Own. Please stop this and bring arguments to the fore why you remove this material all the time. Thanks Gun Powder Ma (talk) 08:45, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
GPM, I've left Angus Maddison's assertions about Bairoch's per capita income, so I don't think this is a case for WP:OWN. I shortened some of what you wrote in the lead, because the lead is meant to summarize. If you wish so, you can add the detailed information to the relevant section in the Qing dynasty or Ming dynasty, but please do not add more than a summary in the leads of the major sections. The Roman iron figure is extremely dubious (See talk:Roman metallurgy); you even mentioned that it is extrapolated from one iron production center. If we extrapolate current world iron production from iron production per capita in a Chinese steel mill town we will get ridiculus figures, and this can show the problem with the Roman figure.Teeninvestor (talk) 02:31, 25 July 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your reply. The figure is extrapolated from Roman Britain; since the same method is also used for Song China where data for the whole of China is extrapolated only from a few surviving receipts of iron mills, I don't see any methodological differences which would warrant the deletion of the Roman material, if you want to keep the comparison. Your supposedly exact iron output figure is btw outdated (Wagner, p. 191):

For the Han period I have suggested elsewhere that iron production might have been on the order of 0.1 kg per capita per year (Wagner 2001a: 73). Since, as Hartwell has shown, the uses of iron had broadened greatly between the Han and the Song one might well be justified in supposing an increase in production by an order of magnitude in the intervening thousand years. Therefore his suggestion, 114,000 metric tonnes, amounting to about 1.2 kg of iron per capita per year, is quite plausible, but there appears to be no direct quantitative evidence for it.

Roman per capita production was in the order of 1.5 kg, so higher. This view is taken is by three sources, all experts on ancient metallurgy and widely cited (Craddock 2008, p. 108; Sim, Ridge 2002, p. 23; Healy 1978, p. 196):
  • Sim, David; Ridge, Isabel (2002): Iron for the Eagles. The Iron Industry of Roman Britain, Tempus, Stroud, Gloucestershire, ISBN 0-7524-1900-5
  • Healy, John F. (1978): Mining and Metallurgy in the Greek and Roman World, Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-40035-0
  • Craddock, Paul T. (2008): "Mining and Metallurgy", in: Oleson, John Peter (ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-518731-1 Gun Powder Ma (talk) 09:41, 25 July 2010 (UTC)


You are completely wrong about the Song figure; it is extrapolated from the government's annual iron tax, which was around five to ten percent. I mentioned this earlier. Using this figure and dividing it by the tax rate, historians extrapolated a figure of iron production (the true figure was probably higher, as many iron mills were unregistered). The figure mentioned repeatedly over and over again is 125,000 tons, not 114,000 tons, and this does not include many private, unregistered iron households. During the Han dynasty, iron production was not taxed (but it was temporarily monopolized and provided nearly the same amount of revenue as the 3% tax on agriculture, showing that it was probably also an important factor in the economy), so it is impossible to know what the iron production is, but it is definitely much higher than 0.1 kg per capita that you have suggested; reports in the Han shu show that thousands of laborers were working in many iron mills (there are reports that an entire building was made from cast iron), and Han Chinese had technology such as cast iron and the Blast furnance that Europe did not approximate for dozens of centuries (see Science and technology of the Han dynasty). Indeed, from Needham's work it is quite clear that Han and Song iron technology was far ahead of any contemporaries (although there are no concrete figures on Han iron production). All of your sources, being classicists, probably have very little knowledge on the Han (or Song) era iron industry, which would explain their grossly wrong estimates.Teeninvestor (talk) 17:03, 25 July 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, I am not complety wrong, but you are. My source for the quote above is: Wagner, Donald B.: "The Administration of the Iron Industry in Eleventh-Century China", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 44, No. 2 (2001), pp. 175–197 (175f., 191)
This is the very same Donald Wagner who has written the iron technology volume of Needham's Science and Technology in Ancient China series, and the very same expert you have used and cited yourself multiple times in Wikipedia. In the article, Wagner critizes Hartwell's fifty year old number of 125,000 t you have used as untenable in its supposed preciseness. You wanna keep the GA status? Then please stop reverting recent scholarship to your very outdated stuff. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:41, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

Examination of Wagner's source[edit]

It seems that Donald Wagner is arguing against Hartwell's method, not suggesting an alternative figure; see his statement here. Also, it seems I am correct; the figure is 114,000 metric tons, but the commonly cited figure is 125,000 english tons; they are both correct though. To quote Wagner:

Robert Hartwell’s research in the early 1960’s into the iron industry of Song China

(960–1279) showed, using a variety of evidence, that the applications of iron expanded greatly in the early Song. He then calculated from tax data the annual iron production of China in the 11th century. This article argues that, while Hartwell’s qualitative conclusions hold, his specific calculation of annual production is flawed: no reliable

calculation is possible based on presently available sources.

I have read his paper. His argument has two ponts. First, he notes that no Song iron production figures are reliable because of irregular delieveries of iron to the state, so the tax receipts may not reflect reality (as a huge amount of iron production was untaxed and illegal); in additon, this does not account for Wang Anshi's tax increases. Second, he contests the tax rate used by Hartwell of one-tenth; however, on this point it is very confusing. Overall, it seems that Hartwell's figure is still the only one available (and indeed Wagner claims it is "quite plausible"). Interestingly enough, Wagner supports the thesis that Han iron technology was more advanced than Rome:

In his conclusion, Wagner offers an interesting reflection. The iron-production technology of the Roman world resulted in small-scale, localized industry, which was of no political or financial interest to the state. In China, a more advanced technology, which gave significant economies of scale, encouraged a powerful state to take a direct interest in iron production and thereby further increase its economic and political power

Considering how rapacious the Roman state was in its search for revenues, this seems to indicate that the iron industry was very unimportant. This would cast doubt on your Roman figure of 86,000 tons, as Wagner specifically stated Chinese iron technology as superior, yet he puts Legal iron production of the Han state monopoly at just 5,000 tons (the true production must be higher, considering private illegal iron production and resistance to the monopoly). As the Romans had only access to bloomery smelting and no large-scale iron works, it is difficult to see how their production was higher than the Han, let alone the Song. Use of iron artifacts, especially iron agricultural tools, were especially prevalent during the Han, while Romans used wooden ploughs. And even Wagner's estimate may be incorrect; if we assume that Later Han iron production was equal to the Tang (a very plausible assumption given the Wu Hu invasions, the state of technology and the Tang's interventions), we would have a figure of 21,000 tons for Han iron production, a figure of 0.4 tons per capita (a plausible figure when taking into account illegal production). Teeninvestor (talk) 15:54, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

GA Reassessment[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:Economic history of China (pre-1911)/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the reassessment.

On a closer look, I find the article being neither factually accurate nor neutral. My main concerns with the current version are WP:NEUTRALITY, WP:PEACOCK and WP:BALANCE. More specifically, the issues are:

  • The repeated attempts to draw unnecessary comparisons to Europe which do not shed light on Chinese developments, and seem to be merely made to aggrandize Chinese achievements. Particularly disturbing is here the overreliance on Robert K. G. Temple, an author hold to be WP:Fringe by a majority of users here and here.
  • Closely related to this is the frequent use of peacock language: "levels unmatched by other civilizations", "world leader", "levels far above their western counterparts" etc. These qualifications are out of place and very often factually wrong or do only represent a minority view. It is an open question how much of this is down to reliance on flawed references, but the problem seems to be at least partly also springing from a conscious effort, that is user bias.
  • The third major problem is the overrepresentation of minority views, several times even to the virtual exclusion of the actual mainstream view. Here too the general thrust is rather predictable in that it aims at inflating things (more advanced, faster, higher, further etc.)
  • Unstability: These problems have been noted in the recent past by other users; then (22-25 July), the issues were not 'resolved' by discussion on talk page, but rather continued reverting of article.

The following may be a bit tedious to many users, but the detailed discussion of selected bits is meant to illustrate that the article remains problematic even when giving it the benefit of the vast scope it aims to deal with. The list is by no means exhaustive, but should only serve to demonstrate the many problems.

False and unverified claims[edit]

  • Sinologist Joseph Needham has claimed that China's GDP per capita exceeded Europe from the fifth century BCE onwards by a substantial margin

This wide-reaching claim lacks a reference. In reality, Needham wrote on technology, not economic history.

  • In the sixth century BCE, among other innovations, the iron plow, row cultivation, and intensive hoeing were introduced. The introduction of oxen in cultivation also began during this period.[53] These techniques spread rapidly, but with the exception of the use of animals, they were limited to China until the European Agricultural Revolution of the 18th century.

Although I had pointed the main contributor to the existence of Roman iron plows (Propyläen Technikgeschichte, Vol. 1, p. 209, fig. 59) in the second failed FAC, he reintroduced this demonstrably false statement afterwards.

  • Historian Donald Wagner estimates that the production of the Han iron monopoly was roughly around 5,000 tons (assuming 100 tons per iron office), though the true figure was much higher due to illegal private production and growth after the privatization under Later Han.

In reality, the cited source (Wagner 2001b, pp. 73) does not refer to any such "true figures", but rather concludes soberly that the figure of 5,000 tons "gives a feel for the general scale of Han iron production".[1]

Minority views in lead[edit]

  • according to some scholars, as recently as the 18th century its per capita income exceeded that of Western Europe.

This is only a minority opinion. According to WP:Lead the introduction should be reserved for the main view which is that European GDP per capita exceeded that of China since the onset of the modern age or even earlier. Cf. section World.

  • Europe's rapid development during the Industrial Revolution enabled it to surpass China—an event known as the great divergence

However, according to most scholars this development took place long before the Industrial Revolution (post 1750), namely during the Renaissance, the Age of Discovery, and the Scientific Revolution. Cf. section World.

  • Widespread use of iron tools that had begun under the Warring States period allowed Chinese agricultural efficiency to increase to a level much higher than other civilizations who had to use wooden ploughs, and this was reinforced by new inventions during the Han period

First, iron plows were also used by other civilizations such as the Romans.[2] Second, this does not add up as Roman iron per capita consumption is estimated to have been more than ten times larger:

  • Han China: 5,000 t or 0.1 kg per capita[3][4]
  • Roman Empire: 82,500 t or 1.5 kg per head[5][6][7]

Reliance on primary sources[edit]

WP:PRIMARY requires the editor to use secondary sources, particularly when it comes to doubtful asssertions such as the following ones.

  • The prosperous capital of Qi, Linzi had a population estimated at over 200,000 in 650 BCE, becoming one of the largest cities in the world.

This number seems to rely only on the 1st century BC historian Sima Qian, but not on a modern critical evaluation.[8]

  • It was recorded that during his reign, the city of Nanjing had a population of up to 1.4 million, exceeding that of Han-era Luoyang.

Again, ancient authors were notoriously careless with numbers, this has been noted by historians since David Hume. What we need is an independent confirmation by a modern scholar.

  • The registered population increased by fifty percent from 30 to 46 million in twenty years.

The stress is on registered. The reason for this rising number must have been in an increasing efficiency of the restored imperial bureaucracy, not in a actual the population increase; pre-modern societies enjoyed population increases close to nil and China was no exception: Maddison gives an average growth rate of 0.00 to 0.11 for China between 1 and 1500 AD.[9]

  • The Tang was a period of rapid economic growth and prosperity, bringing technological advances like gunpowder and woodblock printing.

Both inventions were largely irrelevant for the economy, since they remained for centuries in a very rudimentary state: Cannon and handgun did not appear in China until around 1300,[10] and printing took off no earlier:[11]:

Despite the conspicuous advance of printing in the Song, collections of manuscripts were not suddenly eclipsed by printed books. For one thing, conservative scholars were skeptical of the textual quality of the impersonal printed products; for another, goodquality books were rather expensive. No matter the rapid growth of printing, many desirable titles were not in print and could only be obtained by making manuscript copies. By the end of the twelfth century, the imperial library in Hangzhou possessed several thousand titles, but it is estimated that only one-quarter were printed books.

Second, gunpowder should be anyway much more associated with the opposite, namely destruction, death and economic downslide.

Flawed and unnecessary comparisons, minority views[edit]

  • These innovations in China's agriculture increased efficiency to levels far above their western counterparts.

How so? Western agriculture had its own fair share of innovations unknown to the Chinese, such as mechanical presses for all kinds of grapes and seeds, the wheeled plow, the mechanical reaper, the true scythe etc. Its animal husbandry was undisputably more advanced than in China where agriculture was largely restricted to cultivation of land. Having a free market economy and a functioning law system which protected property, Roman agriculture was no less efficient and its unmatched all-weather road system and the long-distance crop sea trade network established an effective market for agricultural goods far greater than what the rudimentary Han road and sea network could provide its traders. I haven't found Temple to be even aware of these considerations in any way. And how does this comparison to the completely differently operating Mediterranean peasants world helps improve the understanding of Chinese agriculture?

  • By contrast, historian Robert Temple notes that contemporary Rome was unable even to transport grain from northern Italy to Rome and had to depend on ship-carried Egyptian grain, due to a lack of a good harness.

First, Temple is no historian, but a fringe author, and certainly no classicist who could make a qualified judgement on Roman transporation. Second, Temple ultimately relies on a misinterpretation by Richard Lefebvre des Noëttes (died 1936) which has been totally refuted many times since. The current, favourable, consensus on the efficiency of the Roman land transport system is aptly summarized by Raepsaet, Georges: "Land Transport, Part 2. Riding, Harnesses, and Vehicles", in: Oleson, John Peter (ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World, Oxford University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-518731-1, pp. 580–605 and ROMAN TRACTION SYSTEMS

  • Developments such as paper, cast iron, the seed drill, an efficient horse harness, steel and the Iron plow allowed China's wealth and economic efficiency to increase to levels unmatched by other civilizations.

Vastly exaggerated and unproven claim and factually wrong. The Romans, for example, too knew steel, the iron plow, and the efficient horse harnesses. Their combination of papyri (low cost and mass produced) and parchment (high quality and extremely durable) supported a highly literate society for centuries, while Chinese literacy remained bound to the ineffectve silk and bamboo books for centuries to come:[12]

It was not until after the invention and development of paper in China during the late Han period that the book could begin to rise above these limitations, and it took a few more centuries before books of paper replaced those of bamboo and silk.

  • Economic growth was strong under the new liberal policies and China developed a number of innovations, such as improved masts, sails, and rudders, which laid the basis for China's later overseas trade with India, the Middle east and East Africa druing the Tang, Song and Ming Dynasties, as well as the later European voyages of discovery.

A strange statement. In what way did Chinese improved masts, sails, and rudders had a share in the Age of Disvovery? European vessels of the time relied on lateen sails, which originated during the early Roman empire in the Mediterranean Sea[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22] and stern-mounted pintle-and-gudgeon rudder, both of which were indigenous European innovations unknown in Ancient China. Cf. on rudders:[23]

The only actual concept which can be claimed to have been transmitted from the Chinese is the idea of a stern-mounted rudder, and not its method of attachment nor the manner in which it was controlled. Since that idea of putting a rudder on the stern can be traced back to the models found in Egyptian tombs, the need to have the concept brought into the Middle East is questionable at best. There is no evidence to support the contention that the sternpost-mounted rudder came from China, and no need to call on exterior sources for its introduction into the Mediterranean.

  • Agricultural and military advancements made China a technological world leader

Meaningless superlative based on wrong premises: In antiquity, there was still very few interaction between the world regions (not to mention between the Old and New world) and thus no world system in which one region could actually lead the others.

  • Cast iron was invented in China during the 4th century BCE, but was not adopted by the West for 1,700 years.

Actually, cast iron has been known in Europe since late antiquity/early Middle Ages (around 500 AD). [24]

  • Scholars agree that the most prosperous provinces of the Qing Empire, such as the Jiangnan region, had living standards that approximated pre-industrial revolution England
  • Living standards in 18th century China and pre-industrial revolution Europe are comparable. Per capita income in China was estimated by Paul Bairoch to have exceeded Western Europe until 1800.[130] Life expectancy in China and Japan for adult males were 39.6 and 41.1 respectively, compared with 34 for England, between 27.5 and 30 for France, and 24.7 for Prussia.[233] Chinese laborers in the Yangtze delta, the richest region of China, consumed 4,600 calories per day on average (laborers in China overall consumed 2,637 calories on average) compared with 2,000-2,500 calories per day for England.[234] Rural family incomes and productivity in 1800 for the richest province, the Yangtze, was estimated by economic historian Robert Allen to have been slightly below contemporary England, Holland and the earlier Ming, but higher than the rest of Europe.[235][236] There was modest per capita growth in both regions.[237] The Chinese economy was not stagnant and continued to make improvements, and in many areas (especially agriculture) were ahead of Western Europe. Chinese manufacturing output in 1750 is estimated at 16 times that of Britain, and was not surpassed by British levels until 1860.[133][238][239] Chinese cities were also ahead in public health.

All this is actually a mere minority opinion, carefully cherry-picked by the editor and held by very few scholars. And even their works have been meanwhile critically reviewed and their conclusions dismissed by economic historians. Cf section World. The mainstream view remains that of Angus Maddison,[25] William McNeill in his The Rise of the West and David Landes in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.[26]

  • These policies greatly hampered the Qing economy, and was a key reason why it fell behind the West in the 18th century.

Sinocentric misinterpretation of world history: If this is so, why did the rest of the world not under Qing rule also fell behind the West? The real reason for the great leap forward by the West lay in its dynamic, not in the lateral movement of the rest which followed the traditional path of agriculture.


  • Increasing commercialization caused huge advances in productivity during the Ming Dynasty, allowing a greater population

"Huge" leaps foreward in productivity (which alway means productivity per capita) began only under industrial conditions, and before certainly not by mere commercialization. The population increase has more complex causes, such as an increased resilience against contagious diseases (cf. William McNeill: Plagues and Peoples).

  • The Han Dynasty is remembered as the first of China's Golden Ages.

By whom? There is no consensus, neither among scholars nor ordinary people, which ages were 'more golden' than others. This depends very much on one's premises.

  • Innovations such as a new steam turbine helped improve industrial capability to above Song levels.

Dubious assertion: China is not noted for the invention of pre-modern steam engines, and even if somewhere such a prototype was actually developed, the talk of steam engines increasing industrial capacity along the lines of a Chinese industrial revolution is unhistorical and anachrononistic.

  • Although iron tools were manufactured during the Spring and Autumn Period, they became ubiquitous during the Warring States Era after large states began producing iron under government control.

This appears exaggerrated. The foremost expert on Ancient Chinese metallurgy, Donald Wagner, estimates Han government iron production, that is in the centuries to follow, to be in the order of 0.1 kg per capita, a far cry from the figures for the contemporanous Roman Empire.[27][28] So if iron tools were really "ubiquitous" then in China, one runs out of superlatives for the contemporary Roman Empire with an estimated iron per capita production more than 10 times higher (see above).


  1. ^ Wagner, Donald B. (2001), The State and the Iron Industry in Han China, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Publishing, ISBN 8787062836, p. 73ff.
  2. ^ Propyläen Technikgeschichte, Vol. 1, p. 209, fig. 59
  3. ^ Wagner, Donald B. (2001): "The Administration of the Iron Industry in Eleventh-Century China", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 175–197 (191)
  4. ^ Wagner, Donald B. (2001), The State and the Iron Industry in Han China, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Publishing, ISBN 8787062836, p. 73
  5. ^ Craddock, Paul T. (2008): "Mining and Metallurgy", in: Oleson, John Peter (ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-518731-1, p. 108
  6. ^ Sim, David; Ridge, Isabel (2002): Iron for the Eagles. The Iron Industry of Roman Britain, Tempus, Stroud, Gloucestershire, ISBN 0-7524-1900-5, p. 23
  7. ^ Healy, John F. (1978): Mining and Metallurgy in the Greek and Roman World, Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-40035-0, p. 196
  8. ^ Sima, Qian; William Nienhauser (1994). The Grand Scribe's Records, vol. 7: "The Memoirs of Pre-Han China", 69. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. pp. 2257
  9. ^ Maddison, Angus (2006): The World Economy. A Millennial Perspective (Vol. 1). Historical Statistics (Vol. 2), OECD, ISBN 92-64-02261-9, p. 242
  10. ^ Tittmann, Wilfried (1996), "China, Europa und die Entwicklung der Feuerwaffen", in Lindgren, Uta, Europäische Technik im Mittelalter. 800 bis 1400. Tradition und Innovation (4th ed.), Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, pp. 317–336, ISBN 3-7861-1748-9
  11. ^ Eliot, Simon; Rose, Jonathan (Hrsg.): A Companion to the History of the Book, Blackwell Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4051-2765-3, p.99
  12. ^ Eliot, Simon; Rose, Jonathan (Hrsg.): A Companion to the History of the Book, Blackwell Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4051-2765-3, p.99
  13. ^ Casson 1995, pp. 243-245
  14. ^ Casson 1954
  15. ^ White 1978, p. 255
  16. ^ Campbell 1995, pp. 8-11
  17. ^ Basch 2001, p. 63-64
  18. ^ Makris 2002, p. 96
  19. ^ Friedman & Zoroglu 2006, pp. 113-114
  20. ^ Pryor & Jeffreys 2006, pp. 153-161
  21. ^ Castro et al. 2008, pp. 1-2
  22. ^ Whitewright 2009
  23. ^ Lawrence V. Mott, The Development of the Rudder, A.D. 100-1337: A Technological Tale, Thesis May 1991, Texas A&M University, p. 92
  24. ^ Giannichedda, Enrico (2007): "Metal production in Late Antiquity", in Technology in Transition AD 300-650 L. Lavan E.Zanini & A. Sarantis Brill, eds., Leiden; p. 200
  25. ^ Maddison, Angus (2007): "Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD. Essays in Macro-Economic History", Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922721-1, p. 379, table A.4.
  26. ^ Landes, David S.: The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor, W W Norton & Company, New York 1998, ISBN 0-393-04017-8, pp. 29–44
  27. ^ Wagner, Donald B. (2001): "The Administration of the Iron Industry in Eleventh-Century China", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 175–197 (191)
  28. ^ Wagner, Donald B. (2001), The State and the Iron Industry in Han China, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Publishing, ISBN 8787062836, p. 73ff.


  • Basch, Lucien (2001), "La voile latine, son origine, son évolution et ses parentés arabes", in Tzalas, H., Tropis VI, 6th International Symposium on Ship Construction in Antiquity, Lamia 1996 proceedings, Athens: Hellenic Institute for the Preservation of Nautical Tradition, pp. 55–85 
  • Campbell, I.C. (1995), "The Lateen Sail in World History" (PDF), Journal of World History, 6 (1), pp. 1–23 
  • Casson, Lionel (1954), "The Sails of the Ancient Mariner", Archaeology, 7 (4), pp. 214–219 
  • Casson, Lionel (1995), Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World, Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0801851300 
  • Castro, F.; Fonseca, N.; Vacas, T.; Ciciliot, F. (2008), "A Quantitative Look at Mediterranean Lateen- and Square-Rigged Ships (Part 1)", The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 37 (2), pp. 347–359, doi:10.1111/j.1095-9270.2008.00183.x 
  • Friedman, Zaraza; Zoroglu, Levent (2006), "Kelenderis Ship. Square or Lateen Sail?", The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 35 (1), pp. 108–116, doi:10.1111/j.1095-9270.2006.00091.x 
  • Makris, George (2002), "Ships", in Laiou, Angeliki E, The Economic History of Byzantium. From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century, 2, Dumbarton Oaks, pp. 89–99, ISBN 0-88402-288-9 
  • Pomey, Patrice (2006), "The Kelenderis Ship: A Lateen Sail", The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 35 (2), pp. 326–335, doi:10.1111/j.1095-9270.2006.00111.x 
  • Pryor, John H.; Jeffreys, Elizabeth M. (2006), The Age of the ????O?: The Byzantine Navy ca. 500–1204, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 978-9004151970 
  • White, Lynn (1978), "The Diffusion of the Lateen Sail", Medieval Religion and Technology. Collected Essays, University of California Press, pp. 255–260, ISBN 0-520-03566-6 
  • Whitewright, Julian (2009), "The Mediterranean Lateen Sail in Late Antiquity", The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 38 (1), pp. 97–104, doi:10.1111/j.1095-9270.2008.00213.x 

Gun Powder Ma (talk) 07:00, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Statements by PericlesofAthens[edit]

Hello Gun. The first thing I shall address: the iron plow. In China, the earliest discovered specimen of a cast iron blade for a plowshare is dated to roughly 500 BCE, the late Spring and Autumn Period of the Zhou Dynasty (Greenberger 2006: p. 11; Bray 1978: pp. 9, 19-21). Did iron plowshares exist anywhere else in 500 BCE? At this point the Roman Republic had recently thrown off the shackles of its monarchy and was confined to the Italian peninsula, not yet the megalith it was to become. Teen is obviously wrong when he argues that iron plows did not exist anywhere but China until the 18th century. However, surviving specimens of plowshares and artwork of the Han Dynasty (202 BCE - 220 CE) prove that the Chinese had replaced most of the wooden components of the plow with durable cast iron, creating the first heavy moldboard iron plow (Wang 1982: 53-54; see also Greenberger and Bray). As far as I know, the Romans did not utilize the heavy moldboard design, which appeared in Europe at a much later date. Perhaps Teen did not understand this topic well enough to make the distinction between the heavy moldboard iron plow and all other iron plows (which other civilizations, such as the Romans, made use of).--Pericles of AthensTalk 20:16, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Hi Pericles. Could you please give the full references? I am not sure what your point is. Do you argue for the Chinese being the first to use iron shares? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 02:18, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
Let's briefly restate the situation. Teeninvestor claims (see above) that certain agricultural techniques were limited to China and that their exclusive use made Chinese agriculture in terms of productivity second to none.
This claim is open to two counter-arguments:
a) it is unclear why possession of these techniques is enough alone to establish a Chinese primacy. The fact that other cultures possessed their own unique set of agricultural techniques which increased their productivity in these field and which in turn was unknown to the Chinese peasant counteracts this claim (for example, the Romans possessed mechanical presses for all kinds of grapes and seeds, the wheeled plow, the mechanical reaper, the true scythe, all unknown to the Chinese)
b) it is not even true that the Chinese were long the only ones who used the following techniques
Iron plowshare: The earliest iron ploughshares date from around 1000 BC in the Ancient Near East. (White, K. D. (1984): Greek and Roman Technology, London: Thames and Hudson, p. 59). The plowshares of the Greek and Roman breaking plows were typically made of iron (White, p. 59). And there is this all-iron Roman votive plow from the 2nd half of the 1st millennium BC I earlier cited (Propyläen Technikgeschichte, Vol. 1, p. 209, fig. 59)
Mouldboard plow: The Romans also achieved the heavy mouldboard plough in the late 3rd and 4th century AD, when archaeological evidence appears, inter alia, in Roman Britain (Margaritis, Evi; Jones, Martin K.: "Greek and Roman Agriculture", in: Oleson, John Peter (ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World, Oxford University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-518731-1, pp. 158–174 (166, 170))
So, both techniques on which Teeninvestors rests his claim were also known by other ancient cultures. There is thus little basis for his Chinese exceptionalism. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 11:48, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
Ah! I was relying on Lynn White's Medieval Technology and Social Change, which is a bit dated (1962), for the earliest European heavy moldboard iron plow. If the 4th century AD dating for heavy moldboard iron plows in Roman Britain is correct, this does not predate the earliest in China (3rd-2nd century BC), but in the relative scheme of things is not far from the first! Plus, it was known in Medieval Europe, so pinpointing the 18th century is way off the mark. Thank you for finding a reference to an even earlier iron plowshare, i.e. for 1000 BC in the ancient Near East. This does not surprise me too much, considering that the Iron Age visited China several centuries after the eastern Mediterranean civilizations, i.e. Mycenaean, Hittite, Egyptian, etc. I'm curious: where exactly was this earliest known plowshare found? And which culture/civilization has this been associated with: Neo-Hittite, Middle-Assyrian, etc.?--Pericles of AthensTalk 21:16, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

The full refs you requested:

  • Bray, Francesca. "Swords into Plowshares: A Study of Agricultural Technology and Society in Early China," in Technology and Culture, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Jan., 1978): 1–31.
  • Wang, Zhongshu. (1982). Han Civilization. Translated by K.C. Chang and Collaborators. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300027230.
  • Greenberger, Robert. (2006). The Technology of Ancient China. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. ISBN 1404205586.

I just returned home (a few hours ago) after spending four days on the other end of the continental U.S., so I am in no mood (from jet lag) to comb through the rest of these issues at the moment. I will try to make an attempt later, if time is willing. Happy sailing.--Pericles of AthensTalk 21:16, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the refs. I don't know the difference between a moldboard plow and a heavy moldboard plow, if there is any, but that's what my sources say: Margaritis, Evi; Jones, Martin K. 2008:

From the late third century A.D., we find archaeological evidence for the development of an implement that went on to become the principal tool of arable cultivation, first in Europe, and then accompanying the expansion of European influence around the world. The moldboard plow, with a heavy cutting blade at its front, followed by an asymmetrical share and sod-turning moldboard, and assisted by a variety of wheels, makes its appearance during the later stages of the Roman epoch...Three iron implements that recur on Romano-British sites of the late third and fourth centuries A.D. are the long harvesting scythe, the coulter, and the asymmetrical plowshare (Rees 1979). All three can be linked to the intensification of cereal production, and the latter two to the moldboard plow, designed to cut deep into the soil and invert the furrow.

White, K. D. (1984):

From the available evidence it would appear that the evolutionary progress of the front of the plough ran from no protection (suitable enough for the very loose and friable soils of Mesopotamia) through the detachable and replaceable share, first of wood, later of iron (earliest surviving examples date from c. 1000 BC in the Middle East) to variations in ploughshare design reported in the mid-first century AD by Pliny.

Gun Powder Ma (talk) 21:47, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

GA Summary: Delist[edit]

The GA reassessment has been running now for ten days. Neither of my main concerns was addressed. The discussion with PericlesofAthens, the only user who participated in the discussion, centered on a relatively narrowly defined field, the type and material of plows during the Warring States and early imperial period. We found that, while Chinese agriculture was advanced in these respects, these technologies were by no means confined to Chinese agriculture. Thus the associated claim that Chinese agriculture was on "a level much higher than other civilizations" is not supported by the evidence provided, and appears clearly exaggerated.

Any future GA should in my view address the above issues in full and work to replace the unreliable Temple reference throughout the text. As a suggestion, a separate section on the development of economic thought would be worth of consideration. I delist the article. Regards Gun Powder Ma (talk) 00:30, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Movable type printing[edit]

Contrary to what the text claims (without reference), its actual economic impact was insignificant:

Despite Bi Sheng’s invention, significant typographic publications did not appear in China until the end of the fifteenth century, and the technique was used only sporadically after that.

Source: Edgren, J. S. (2007): "The Book beyond the West": China, in: Eliot, Simon; Rose, Jonathan (eds.): A Companion to the History of the Book, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 97−110 (105), ISBN 978-1-4051-2765-3

I have removed the bit.Gun Powder Ma (talk) 10:57, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

From its inception in China (from the mid-11th century onwards), movable type printing always had to compete with its earlier-founded cousin, woodblock printing. And Edgren is right, movable type in China did not become very important until the Ming, since metallic movable type was not perfected until Hua Sui's bronze type of 1490 (although Wang Zhen had fiddled with metal tin movable type in the 14th century). Perhaps the gargantuan Chinese written character system was the inhibiting factor in movable type's development and acceptance.--Pericles of AthensTalk 21:26, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
In the big scheme of things, movable type printing did never become important in the Far East. Note that even where it was most developed, in Korea, it remained a laborious hand printing process capable of making not more than 40 copies per day. By contrast, Renaissance printing presses could do 3,600 copies per working day (see Printing press#Printing capacity), and there were thousands of them active throughout Europe.
So, Chinese movable type printing remained insignificant both in comparison to Chinese woodblock printing and, globally seen, to European movable type printing. Its economic impact was truly negligible which is why I have removed it from the context it was placed in. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:01, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Contentious Sentence, Consider Revising[edit]

"According to some scholars, China was for a large part of the last two millennia the world's largest[1] and among the wealthiest and most advanced economies."

There are a ton of things wrong with this sentence. The phrase "China was for a large part of the last two millennia the world's largest" does not make sense. Largest what? Also, the phrase "According to some scholars" is vague (not to mention cliche) in Wikipedia. According to the scholars who study China? According to most scholars? According to an arbitrary majority of scholars? There is no basis for quantifying the "according to..." argument unless a comprehensive list of academic dissent is referred (at least), in other words, people who disagree with the statement that China was the world's largest economy for a "large part" of the last two millennia. Or was it "most" of the last two millennia? Furthermore, "wealthiest" is vague, and although it clearly implies a per capita basis, it is easily confused with overall size (national wealth, GDP) in the beginning - in which case it would be clearly redundant.

I will propose that the sentence be the following:

"China was the largest economy in the world for much of the past two millennia [1], as well as one of the wealthiest per capita and most technologically advanced."

"A large part" has been replaced by "much" because the former is bad style, while the latter gives room for interpretation and has concise readability. I have deleted the "according to some scholars" muck for a very good reason. There is always dissent no matter what. Even on something as clear as "HIV causes AIDS" you will find some degree of political and even scientific dissent! My science forum has an engineer who disagrees with special relativity! China's economy was not necessarily greater than the Romans (that remains TBD), but certainly outlasted it by far. One concrete reference is enough to state the sentence without mentioning accordance. Facial (talk) 17:56, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

I agree with facial to the extent that the sentence needs to be changed. However, I would also like to point out that China was never the largest economy at any point of time in human history. I came across a book written by Angus Maddison called "The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective", in which he proves with evidence that India was the largest economy from the 1st through to the 18th century and throughout most of recorded history. There is absolutely no proof to suggest that China was the largest economy (or even one of the largest economies) in the world. I feel that the sentence should be changed to: "China had one one of the largest economies historically, even though its wealth remained average". Jackiepurr (talk) 06:39, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

NOTE Jackiepurr (talk · contribs) is a blocked sockpuppet. (talk) 06:40, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
India couldn't be the largest economy in this period, since it wasn't a single economy, unless we're using aggregate geographic regions instead of political states. "India" as such would then include all of South Asia. Usually when speaking about China, it's about the dominant Chinese state of the period... As for wealth being average, this can't be correct. The world contains more poor economies than rich ones, and poor ones cannot afford the civil engineering works China carried out, or the military hardware used to equip its armies, so it has to be above average in wealth. "China had one of the largest economies historically" is fine by me though. (talk) 15:00, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
It's no doubt that China was historically an important economic entity as a whole, for China held so large a population. However, it seems controversial whether the Chinese were ever among the wealthiest per capita. Maybe we shall leave this question if no direct and conclusive evidence is found.--Certiffon (talk) 14:23, 22 September 2011 (UTC)


Can this article be more of a biased joke? Seriously. It's pages like this that make it perfectly understandable why college professors refuse to allow wikipedia as a legitimate source for their student's papers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:03, 15 November 2011 (UTC)


This edit established the use of the page as BCE/CE but, as a reminder, we don't actually list CE after every date, just the ones where confusion might arise. Similarly, it's omitted from centuries. — LlywelynII 13:28, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Feudalism and Well-field system[edit]

As a reminder, if the section on feudal China says it's "dubious" China was ever feudal, the next three sections shouldn't repeatedly discuss the decline and fall of feudal China.

If the section on the well field system says "historians don't believe it ever existed", the next two sections shouldn't discuss its disappearance or replacement. — LlywelynII 13:28, 8 July 2016 (UTC)