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2012 | 20 | 1 | 35-59

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“Čínské obchody“ škodových závodů před první světovou válkou

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From the beginning of the 20th century to the outbreak of the First World War Škoda Works was trying hard to intensify its export activities. One of the countries where the company endeavored to market its products at that time was China under the Qing Dynasty. The “Chinese business” of Škoda Works in the last years before the war, however, has been paid very little attention to by researchers. Some experts believe that Škoda, based in Pilsen, played an important role in the economic contacts between Austria-Hungary and China, the “Empire of the Center”, and proved quite successful in that market, particularly in the arms trade. The primary aim of the present study is to either confirm or refute this hypothesis. The author also tries to throw more light on the nature of Škoda’s “Chinese business” and, primarily, to disclose by examining unpublished sources some circumstances that have been unknown until now. The author’s research confirmed the initial hypothesis saying that in Škoda’s exports to China before World War I arms trade absolutely prevailed or, more precisely, that the author could not identify any major export of non-military nature. Škoda Works ranked undoubtedly among the Austro-Hungarian companies that showed much interest in the Chinese market, and also among the businesses that were ultimately strongly affected by the difficulties in claiming debts in China. Investigating Škoda’s “Chinese business” prior to World War I is quite difficult. At the first glance, several factors can be identified that make Škoda’s alleged success in the form of major contracts signed during the last prewar years of great political instability in China rather questionable. Most of the deliveries contracted in those documents were not eventually carried out. Nevertheless, the above facts should not lead us to any unilateral misleading conclusions. Škoda’s “Chinese business” cannot be certainly considered an apparent failure. In spite of the non-implementation of some contracts and of some additional controversial events Škoda Works became established under quite difficult conditions in the Chinese market. The main obstacle that made it impossible to realize most of the deliveries was the First World War, i.e., an objective fact that Škoda was unable to influence. In view of the coming events, the main “Chinese contracts” were signed too late, so that Škoda had missed the right time.


  • Katedra hospodářských dějin, Národohospodářská fakulta, Vysoká škola ekonomická, nám. W. Churchilla 4, 130 67 Praha 3, Czech Republic


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