Foreign Wells: Japanese Well Drilling in Beijing, 1900–10

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Following the conclusion of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, drinking water in Beijing underwent a revolution with the introduction of Japanese well-drilling technology. Based on the sources housed in Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States, this article investigates Japanese well-drilling technology and how it was economically, socially, and culturally indigenized in Beijing, both in the Tartar City and Chinese City, by placing the technology transfer within the complex picture of accommodation and compromise among the state, foreign powers, and the society. I contend that in the Tartar City, the state patronized well drilling by establishing the Institute of Well Drilling, while in the Chinese City, merchants and water carriers became patrons of the new technology, reflecting a deep dichotomy between the Tartar City and Chinese City, segregated by ethnicity since the 1640s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-436
Number of pages21
JournalTechnology and Culture
Issue number2
Early online dateApr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

The author acknowledges the research grant from D. Kim Foundation (2013-14) and Faculty Research Grant of Lingnan University (2017/2018, Reference 101859) for their generous financial support. He is also grateful to Norman Kutcher, Yoshina Hurgobin, Geraldine Forbes, Suzanne Moon, Philip Brown, and the two anonymous referees of this journal for their insightful comments.


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