Agricultural Science and Economics
By the end of the nineteenth century, Japan had fully turned away from the imperial Chinese example to embrace a Western-styled imperialism, with the science and technology of mapping and surveying as the foundational tools of empire. The Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) brought forth far stronger condemnations and recrimination against the stagnation of Chinese tradition. At the same time, Japan became the source of assorted geographical and agricultural texts, which flooded into turn-of-the century China.
Late Qing officials were particularly interested in agricultural science. In the 1900s, the last decade of the dynasty, the Qing state attempted to completely reform its educational and governmental structure. As part these reforms, the Qing established a Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce and opened agricultural experimental stations (Lavelle 2015). Much of the agronomic knowledge during this period came mainly from Japan and the United States. In 1906, the Ministry opened the first agricultural experiment station on 70 hectares of land outside of the Xizhi Gate, near the northwest corner of Beijing’s city walls (and now part of the Beijing Zoo). Around the same time period, provincial officials established agricultural experiment stations in all the provinces, with some provinces, like Guangdong Province, which established seven stations by 1911, opening multiple stations, as well as operating additional sericulture and forestry stations. Agricultural stations survived the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911. More important than the actual physical stations, the language of scientific agriculture and experimental stations proliferated in the subsequent decades and into the People’s Republic of China after its founding in 1949.