SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

Aspects of Defense Industrialization in China, 1949-1989

David Bachman
Professor David Bachman (Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington)

Date: 15 March 2021Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 15 March 2021Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar



This seminar is based of Prof. David Bachman’s book project in process on China’s defense industrialization. The book is composed of three major parts. The first is a history of defense industrialization from 1949 to 1989. It argues that China’s defense industrialization during this period was profoundly affected by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union developed a kind of defense industrialization very different than that of other major combatants in the Second World War, and the Chinese would perhaps unreflectively take on the Soviet system whole cloth. Almost every major weapon system China produced during this period was based on a Soviet design. Soviet supplied factories and equipment (and equipment specifications) were central to almost all weapons systems. Soviet advisors helped to plan defense industrialization, site new factory locations, and supervise the installation of Soviet equipment and management systems. This legacy persisted well into the 1980s, if only by default.

The second part of the book examines the impact of the defense industrial sector on the national economy and on provincial economies. It is based on a database of 1161 defense enterprises (out of 8225 large and medium sized industrial enterprises in the PRC’s 1985 industrial census). Defense enterprises were roughly a third of Soviet contracted factories to China. Defense plants were quite unevenly distributed across China’s provincial level units and constituted wildly divergent proportions of overall numbers of large and medium scale industrial enterprises in provinces. In general, provinces with the highest numbers of defense enterprises and highest ratios of defense enterprises to other industrial enterprises had the lowest per capita incomes in the year 2000.

The third part of the project looks at what the structure of defense industrialization tells us about Chinese grand strategy during the 1949 to 1989 period and China’s perception of threat.

The seminar will centre on elements of the first and second part of the book project.

Event Recording

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Aspects of Defense Industrialization in China, 1949-1989

About the speaker

David Bachman is the Henry M. Jackson Professor of International Studies at the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington (Seattle) where he has taught since 1991. He is the author Chen Yun and the Chinese Political System, Bureaucracy, Economy, and Leadership in China: The Institutional Origins of the Great Leap Forward, and co-editor (with Dali L. Yang) of Yan Jiaqi and China’s Struggle for Democracy. He is currently working on a book on China’s defense industrialization. His Ph.D. is from Stanford University, and he has taught at Stanford and Princeton University prior to his appointment at the University of Washington.


This webinar will take place online via Zoom. Click here to register.

* The webinar will also be live-streamed on our Facebook page for those that are unable to participate via Zoom.

Chair: Professor Steve Tsang (Director, SOAS China Institute)

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

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