Great Moments in Mao-Era Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Invention and Innovation: Automobiles. China Rising Radio Sinoland 240709




Pictured above: if you can find the “Mr. Science” book and have an interest in China, it’s REALLY interesting. Esteemed China Writers’ Group member Dongping Han contributed a chapter. On the right is an inspiring poster that says, “Smash the old world, create the new world”, with revolutionary and industrial meanings.

Sixteen years on the streets, living and working with the people of China, Jeff








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Automotive Industry during the Cultural Revolution. The metamorphosis of China’s automotive industry (1953–2001): Inward internationalization, technological transfers and the making of a post-socialist market

Summary (complete paper’s hyperlink and PDF article can be found below): During the Maoist period, the automotive industry and the ‘backbone companies’ were born with the help of other Communist countries.

The quantity and category of automobiles produced by China during this period were determined by the state which established production quotas for every given category of goods: commercial or industrial vehicles (trucks and SUVs for military use) were given priority at the expense of passenger vehicles.

Until the early 1970s, the yearly average production of passenger cars was below one thousand units, representing less than one percent of China’s total vehicle production.

The bulk of production went into commercial vehicles, especially trucks that were badly needed for the transportation of goods.

The first vehicle manufacturing plant dates to the mid-1950s, and by 1970 localized production was widespread in the country.

China’s First Automotive Works (FAW) was founded in 1953 with Soviet assistance. It was located in Changchun (Jilin), in Northeast China.

Five hundred Chinese technicians were trained in Soviet manufacturing plants, and 200 Soviet specialists assisted in the construction of FAW and its production activities. The first vehicle assembled in China was a copy of the light-duty truck (up to four tons) ZIS-150, named Jiefang [Liberation] CA10. This became the main production model for decades up to 1973.

In 1965, China signed an agreement with the French truck producer Berliet for technical assistance, license transfer and industrial designs. Furthermore, cars and trucks became the main export item of France to China, receiving the support of full diplomatic relations between both countries, since 1964 (Zhou, Citation2018). Italy also undertook business deals with China in the oil and petrochemical industries as well as in the automotive industry, mainly with the Italian company Fiat (Zanier, Citation2017; Capisani, Citation2013). Fiat had been a close partner of the Soviets and Eastern European countries (with production subsidiaries in Poland and Romania) and also engaged in business with other socialist countries who had abandoned the Soviet sphere of influence, like Yugoslavia—where the company signed an agreement with Crvena Zastava in 1954 or with China, after the Sino-Soviet split.

In 1969, the second company controlled by the central government, SAW, was created in the remote town of Shiyan (Hubei), following Mao’s idea of spreading industrialization in the interior of China for defensive strategic purposes (Meyskens, Citation2020). After several delays, SAW started production in 1969 and, despite claims of technological independence and autarchy, the industrial plant followed the FAW designs and copied the Soviet manufacturer of commercial vehicles. The first models were a 2.5-ton truck called GAZ51 and the military models SUV Y20 and Y25. Moreover, it was FAW’s technical personnel, trained by the Soviets, who assisted in the creation of these first truck prototypes.

Given the fact that both FAW and SAW were controlled by the central government, there was an interindustry transfer of technology from the previous Soviet assistance.

(SAW History Journal, Citation2001; Xu & Ou2017; CNAIC, Citation1984).

PDF of full report

The metamorphosis of China s automotive industry 1953 2001 Inward internationalisation technological transfers and the making of a post-socialist



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JEFF J. BROWN, Editor, China Rising, and Senior Editor & China Correspondent, Dispatch from Beijing, The Greanville Post

Jeff J. Brown is a geopolitical analyst, journalist, lecturer and the author of The China Trilogy. It consists of 44 Days Backpacking in China – The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass (2013); Punto Press released China Rising – Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations (2016); and BIG Red Book on China (2020). As well, he published a textbook, Doctor WriteRead’s Treasure Trove to Great English (2015). Jeff is a Senior Editor & China Correspondent for The Greanville Post, where he keeps a column, Dispatch from Beijing and is a Global Opinion Leader at 21st Century. He also writes a column for The Saker, called the Moscow-Beijing Express. Jeff writes, interviews and podcasts on his own program, China Rising Radio Sinoland, which is also available on YouTubeStitcher Radio, iTunes, Ivoox and RUvid. Guests have included Ramsey Clark, James Bradley, Moti Nissani, Godfree Roberts, Hiroyuki Hamada, The Saker and many others. [/su_spoiler]

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