The experience of British business in Iran between the 1860's and the 1970's is one example of the changing importance of British enterprise in Asia as a whole. Before 1914 British business established and dominated Iran's modern industrial and financial sector; in the 1920's this domination began to wane; by the 1960's British enterprise was of little importance in the Iranian economy. While in Japan and India the decline of British business was primarily a function of the rise of strong indigenous business groups, in Iran, by contrast, the government played a large role in both challenging British commercial interests and stimulating locally owned enterprise. Periodic surges of intense Iranian economic nationalism must be understood partly as a reaction to the close relations between British business in Iran and the British government. In retrospect, it is possible to see the uneasy and ambiguous nature of this relationship. It is true that the British Imperial Bank in Iran was never entirely a tool of the British government, and that the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company did not take its orders from the British government, despite the 51 percent government shareholding. However, the relationship between British business and the British government was sufficiently close that many Iranians understandably viewed the oil company and the bank as symbols of a British imperialist policy.

The author of the passage mentions the British government's shares in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company most probably in order to

demonstrate the British enterprise in Iran was controlled by the British government

contrast British-run businesses in Iran with Iranian-run businesses in Iran

show how joint British and Iranian enterprises were encouraged by the British government

illustrate a point about the financial difficulties faced by British businesses in Asia

suggest a reason for Iranians' perception of the role British government played in British business


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