China around 1900 was an enormous domain with approximately 400 million people, almost all of them desperately poor. Most were farmers, working intensively on small tracts of land using relatively primitive technology. It was in many respects a Malthusian economy, with high death and birth rates and many residents living close to the subsistence level.
Trescott, P.B. (2010), "Western economic advisers in China, 1900–1949", Biddle, J.E. and Emmett, R.B. (Ed.) A Research Annual (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 28 Part 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-37. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0743-4154(2010)000028A004
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