John Stuart Mill and China: Peeking behind China’s Stationary State

Yue Xiao
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Publication Date: 
Monday, November 18, 2019

Current literature on John Stuart Mill’s writings about Asia has mainly focused on his influence in India because of Mill’s 35-year career in the East India Company. Scholars in both China and the West have not paid attention to Mill’s views on China. This paper delves into Mill’s notion of China’s stationary state and categorizes Mill’s discussion of China into three major topics: (1) capital accumulation, (2) liberty and individuality, and (3) democratic government. Mill made an empirical analysis of the relationship between China’s high interest rate and the desire for capital accumulation. He went on to explore the negative connection between China’s “despotism of custom” and individual liberty. Finally, he considered the autocratic government and the lack of civil rights. Mill traced China’s stationary state from the time preferences of people to broad institutional failures.

Zhongnan University of Economics and Law