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Cigarettes, Inc.An Intimate History of Corporate Imperialism$
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Nan Enstad

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226533285

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226533452.001.0001

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Where the Races Meet

Where the Races Meet

Chapter:
(p.221) 7 Where the Races Meet
Source:
Cigarettes, Inc.
Author(s):

Nan Enstad

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226533452.003.0007

From its inception, the British American Tobacco Company in China was made through cross-racial encounters, but those relationships took on new valences in the interwar period as Chinese businessmen gained more power in BAT. In 1921, Zheng Bozhao and BAT established a subsidiary corporation named Yongtaihe that allotted Zheng considerable power. This chapter explores the significance of Yongtaihe for the inner workings of the corporation and the larger, political face of corporate power. It first follows Frank H. Canaday’s career as the only foreign employee hired specifically to work in Yongtaihe, offering a window into BAT’s reconstitution and the new hybrid forms of business that emerged. It also track’s James A. Thomas, longtime head of BAT-China, as BAT’s most vocal interlocutor, engaged in highly public debates about corporations’ role in foreign relations and imperialism. Yongtaihe served as a symbol of BAT-China’s simultaneous success and failure. Because of Yongtaihe, BAT sold cigarettes—lots of cigarettes. But BAT-China’s dependence on Yongtaihe ran counter to the project and principles of modernity: that the superior, rational business structures of the West could be scaled up without significant change and transposed around the world.

Keywords:   Zheng Bozhao, Frank H. Canaday, James A. Thomas, foreign relations, British American Tobacco Company, corporation, imperialism, modernity, China, race

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