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Dr Koji Hirata

Dr Koji Hirata

Research Fellow (Emmanuel College)


I hold a BA and MA (Law and Political Science) from the University of Tokyo, an MPhil (History) from the University of Bristol, and a PhD (History) from Stanford University. I also spent several years in Taiwan, China, and Russia, studying the Chinese and Russian languages. Since October 2018, I have been a Research Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Departments and Institutes

Emmanuel College:
Research Fellow

Research Interests

My research examines modern China and its relations with Japan and Russia by situating them in the global history of capitalism and socialism, and using multilingual archives in Chinese, Japanese, English, and Russian. My first book project, 'Steel Metropolis: Industrial Manchuria and the Making of Chinese Socialism, 1917–1975', uncovers the global origins of the Chinese socialist planned economy. I draw on archival sources and oral histories from China, Japan, the U.S. and Russia to chronicle the transformation of twentieth-century China’s largest steel enterprise and its urban environment: the Anshan Steel and Iron Works (Angang) in the city of Anshan, located in Manchuria (Northeast China). During the early years of the People’s Republic of China (PRC, 1949-), Angang produced half of the nation’s steel, epitomizing the new Soviet-modeled socialist state under Mao Zedong’s leadership. While Soviet aid to Angang in the 1950s is well documented, a lesser-known part of the story of Angang concerns its origins as part of the Japanese colonial project in Manchuria before 1945. Through a transnational microhistory of Anshan and Angang, I challenge the widely accepted idea that the PRC planned economy was inspired purely by Stalinist and Maoist visions. Instead, I contend that PRC socialism built upon the industrial legacies inherited from the Japanese empire and China’s Nationalist government. Moreover, as under these previous regimes, the implementation of the PRC’s development projects were often dependent upon lower-level officials and local residents, who pursued their own interests by re-interpreting the rules of the game set by the state.


In addition to working on my first book, I am currently studying the Manchu and Mongolian languages for my second book project, 'China Faces Russia: Empires, Migration, and Capitalism in the Eurasian Borderlands, 1792-1912'This project examines the northern borderlands of China’s Qing Empire (1644-1912) during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, focusing on the northern parts of Manchuria and Mongolia that bordered the Russian Empire. To study transnational and inter-ethnic encounters on the borderlands, I conduct research in archives in China, Russia, Japan, and elsewhere. I examine the issues of Russian, and later Japanese, imperialism in the Qing’s northern borderlands, Han Chinese migration to these regions, and the incorporation of borderland economies and ecologies into both Chinese and world markets. More broadly, I show how modern nation states were shaped by transnational and inter-ethnic encounters on borderlands.


Paper 23 (Part I): World History since 1914

Other Professional Activities

Between 2007 and 2009 I served as an assistant interpreter for the Japan-China Joint History Research Committee, a project set up by the Japanese and Chinese governments.


  • International History
  • Economic, Social History
  • Imperial History
  • Russian History

Key Publications

Peer-reviewed Articles:
2016 (with Zhe Yuan) 'Sun Yat-sen’s diplomacy in Britain after the Wuchang Uprising: a study based upon the UK Foreign Office archives', Guangdong shehuikexue, 5: 100-108 [in Chinese].

2013 'Britain’s Men on the Spot in China: John Jordan, Yuan Shikai, and the Reorganization Loan, 1912–1914', Modern Asian Studies, 47-3: 895-934.

2011 'Rethinking the Reorganisation Loan Negotiations: the Role of Britain’s Men on the Spot in China, 1912-1913', Beida Shixue, 15: 241-263 [in Chinese].

Book Chapters and Other Publications:

2019 'From the Ashes of Empire: The Reconstruction of Manchukuo’s Enterprises and the Making of China’s Northeastern Industrial Base, 1948-1952', in Barak Kushner and Sherzod Muminov (eds.), Overcoming Empire: Repatriation, Redress and Rebuilding in Post-Imperial East Asia (Forthcoming).

2019 'City Construction in Anshan in the Early PRC: Urban Planning, Population Inflow, and the Housing Problem, 1948-1957', in Jiang Jing (ed.), Chenglian xiangchou: ershi yi shiji Zhongguo de chengxiang guanxi [in Chinese] (Forthcoming).

2018 'Soviet Removal of Industrial Equipment from Manchuria after World War Two: New Findings from Russian Archives', Umemura Suguru, Ōno Taikan, and Izumiya Yōko (eds.), Manshū no sengo: keishō saisei shinsei no chiiki shi (Tokyo, Bensei shuppan), 88-115 [in Japanese].

2015 'Sino-British Relations in Railway Construction: the Modernising State, Foreign Interests and Local Elites, 1905-1911', in Robert Bickers and Jonathan Howlett (eds.), Britain and China, 1840-1970: Empire, Finance and War. London: Routledge: 130-147.

2014 'Politics and Economy in Manchukuo: Wartime Developmental State and its Legacy', in Shin’ichi Kitaoka (ed.), Rekishi no naka no Nihon seiji, vol. 3. Tokyo: Chūo koōron shinsha: 207-261 [in Japanese].

2010 'Britain’s Policy in China and Chinese Politics: the Reorganisation Loan, Britain’s "Men on the Spot" in China and the Collaboration Policy, 1911-1914', Kokkagakkai zasshi, 123-1&2: 159-223 [in Japanese].


2012 (from Chinese to Japanese): Chi-hua Tang, 'The Beiyang clique and China’s 1911 Revolution', Shingai kakumei hyakushūnen kinen ronshū henshū iinkai (ed.), Sōgō kenkyū Shingai kakumei. Tokyo, Iwanami shoten: 529-551.

2011 (from Chinese to Japanese): Chi-hua Tang, 'Sino-Soviet relations in the 1920s', Iwanami kōza: higashi Ajia kingendai tsuūshi, Vol. 4. Tokyo: Iwanami shoten: 245-267.

Other Publications

2017 'Member of the Week: Koji Hirata', The Metropole: The Official Blog of the Urban History Association (URL: