By Kwan Man Bun (auth.)
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Extra info for Beyond Market and Hierarchy: Patriotic Capitalism and the Jiuda Salt Refinery, 1914–1953
75 Surely, determining the percentage of wastage and purity of sodium chloride was a scientific matter. 77 However, Sir Richard Dane remained skeptical and stood firm as a matter of principle and policy consistency. The company was proposing a scientific but unprecedented method to calculate the gabelle— by weight of sodium chloride of a certain degree of purity. ”79 After repeated petitions, denials, and appeals stacked over a foot in height, the Revenue Inspectorate, through the good offices of Liang Qichao, Zhang Hu, and Li Sihao at the Salt Administration, finally conceded a 30 percent discount.
Equating “commercial ports” as treaty ports implied compromising Chinese sovereignty over all the ports declared open for foreign trade. 68 He argued that Jiuda could not possibly compete against revenue farmers with the heavy gabelle carried by refined salt. The company’s minuscule output capacity of 30,000 dan per year would not interest revenue farmers handling over 40 million dan in annual sales nationally. Furthermore, with a commercial port often shared among several revenue farmers, dividing further the limited supply of refined salt with its slim profit margin, if any, gave them no incentive to promote the new product against tax-free imported salt.
He thus found that while the hereditary license holders enjoyed a healthy profit, it was only fair compensation for their service to the state. ”50 The major changes at Lianghuai effected under Dane’s regime, after much negotiation between him and his Chinese counterparts, focused on the standardization of weights (in effect, another gabelle rate increase, see below) and the gabelle payment method. 5 yuan per dan national average rate target notwithstanding. 51 In Dane’s view, a working machine needed no fixing, especially when its abolition would require compensation to the revenue farmers, an argument that Jing Benbai rejected most strenuously.