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China Period

In 1928 in one of Kiel  coffeehouses Leontief gets acquainted with two Chinese business men, who were connected with the Chinese government which settled in Nankin. 

After few weeks Leontief received the official invitation to come to China as an Advisor of the Minister on Railroads. He had a task to work out an optimal variant of the system of communications and cargo transportations. There you are with the backward country! There were neither statistics, nor other relevant economic information at that time. The bench scientist managed to obtain an airplane and then he methodically, area by area, surveyed China airscape, visualizing roads where caravan tracks seemed to lay.  

The contract was signed for one year. In reality Leontief did not make much economic research at that period. Lately he enjoyed recalling his traveling around the Empire and adventures in trains set on fire by bands. He also recalled his visits to Japan and conversation with local intellectuals, who fenced with bamboo sticks in the breaks of scientific talks.  There were lots of impressions but the experience received was negative. Such huge country as China, which has the potential to become the most powerful country in the world was in the state of absolute political and economic chaos. For Leontief who’s style was based of exact mathematical calculations and analysis, it was impossible to work in such conditions.

In 1929 he did not extend the contract and came back to Germany, which by that time got deeper onto the economic crisis.


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