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Environment in Asia Series Featuring Ying Jia Tan – War and the Reconfiguration of China’s Energy Geography

November 5, 2021 @ 12:30 pm 2:00 pm

Speaker: Ying Jia Tan, Assistant Professor of History and East Asian Studies, Wesleyan University

In Recharging China in War and Revolution, 1882–1955 (Cornell University Press, 2021), Ying Jia Tan argues that, even in times of peace, the Chinese economy operated as though still at war, constructing power systems that met immediate demands but sacrificed efficiency and longevity. This talk explores the effects of China’s catastrophic loss of 97 percent of its power generating capacity during the Second Sino-Japanese War. It looks at how wartime mobilization accelerated China’s transition towards coal as the main fuel source for power generation, led to the creation of a homegrown electrical equipment manufacturing industry, and inspired a vision of national reconstruction driven by massive hydropower projects. Lessons from the electrification of wartime China reveals the strengths and limitations of state-driven initiatives aimed at alleviating power shortages, which in turn, offer insights into the common challenges facing China and Taiwan as they transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

Ying Jia Tan is assistant professor of history and East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University. is a historian of science and technology with allied interests in environmental history and the history of cartography. He teaches traditional and modern Chinese history, as well as courses on maritime East Asia, cartography, and the Anthropocene.

Presented via Zoom Webinar
Registration Required
Register at: https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jRhu4N8RSqGioDgdMqvjOw

Note: this live lecture will not be simulcast on our YouTube channel nor available for viewing at a later date.


November 5, 2021
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Event Categories:


Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

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