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3 Silk Sector Notes

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3 Silk Sector Revision

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Silk and Sericulture Silk Sector in China
• Most important export commodity for China and Japan o France and Italy → silk cloth production
• Historically the technology transfer was towards Europe
• Hand-reeled silk persisted in China despite partial transfer of European technology o Higher transaction costs o High learning effort o High capital investment required o Centralization required institutional and social changes o Labour was cheap in East Asia anyway
• Fundamental change only occurred after Sino-Japanese War

European Technology Transfer
• Four new features from Southern Europe o Rigid-axis and cogwheel to more efficiently drive the belt adopted from China o Additional twisting mechanism to cross silk threads dry o Centralized steam boiler o Mechanization
• Uniformity of European style silk o Demanded higher price

Silk Sector in Japan
• Meiji government promoted industrialization o Promoted standardization movement of cocoon varieties
• After 1900s began to deprive China of the raw-silk export market o Has a traditional Zaguri raw-silk production system before Meiji
• 1500 water or steam powered filatures by 1895 and rapid diffusion of the filature system
• Firth's hypothesis on the time-sequence of adaptations in transplanting foreign culture (inc. tech.): o Acceptance of new foreign tech proceeds organizations, institutions and beliefs
• A 1/3rd cheaper than European silk
• By 1930s, exports were 3x that of China

Case Studies
1. Ewo Filature
• First Western-style, steam-powered, silk-reeling factory, began 1860 in Shanghai

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