Historical Geography Research ›› 2021, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (2): 119-138.

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“The State Advances as the Private Sector Retreats” in Modern Chinese Postal Space

Wang Zhe   

  1. Center for Historical Geographical Studies, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
  • Received:2020-11-23 Online:2021-05-20 Published:2021-05-20


Postal network was a modern element with the characteristic of “spatiality”. For modern China, it was mainly composed of various corporate entities such as Minxin (native postal services), owned by small private capital, and state-run postal services. After its establishment, the Chinese Imperial Post began to encroach on the operating space of Minxin. Based on the digitization work of the 1936 Postal Atlas, published by the Post of Republic of China, it was found that after nearly 40 years, the state-run post had basically completed the integration and construction of a nationwide postal space. In this process, the state-run postal service prudently imitated the operation modes of the Minxin and adopted a variety of innovative business strategies. In addition to building a convenient and fast postal network within and between large and medium-sized cities, the state-run postal service also adopted new business strategies such as “postal agency” in rural areas that could not be covered by railway and road at a very low cost, and completed the coupling with the traditional rural grassroots “periodical market” network. Basically, it has achieved the effect wherever there was commerce, there was postal service. The “postal agglomeration” formed by the state-run postal network and the concentration of postal points have also become a prominent external spatial representation of modernization and a good macro-external indicator for defining the so-called “core” and “peripheral” spaces.

Key words: postal serveice, Minxin (native post), postal atlas, the state advances as the private sector retreats

CLC Number: 

  • K928