The regime established by Mao Tse-tung in 1949 was heir to a civilization which, although it was backward by contemporary Western standards, already possessed markedly higher educational, organizational, technological, commercial, agricultural and industrial capabilities than the rest of mainland Asia, excluding Russia and Korea (see Perkins, 1975,3-17; Eckstein, 1977, 14; T. Rawski, 1980,2,6,7). By 1900 some 30-45 per cent of Chinese men knew how to read and write, printing and popular literature were developing well, the Chinese were accustomed to written contracts and government through the written word, and formal educational attainment had become the main basis of official recruitment and upward mobility (E. Rawski, 1979). By 1949 China had 'over 200 higher educational institutions, 4000 secondary and 289,000 primary schools, with a total of 24,000,000 students and pupils' (Qi Wen, 1979T, 167). And already by 1955 China had 600,000 engineers and scientists (Oldham, 1973, 85), nearly ten times as many as India. The technological fecundity of China's ancient civilization has been exhaustively documented by Needham (1954-83).