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Based on the Xingke Tiben, this paper assesses the long-run economic development of China, by constructing a new estimate of male occupational structure during 1734–1898 by sector, sub-sector pattern, and region. After assessing the source’s biases, using this new empirical basis, this paper demonstrates that the national male occupational structure was nearly identical in 1761–70, 1821–30, and 1881–90, suggesting a long-lasting structural stasis of the national economy, allowing for fluctuations between benchmark dates. Within agriculture, substantial regional differences in labour organisation are revealed. Three distinct models are found: the Northern Regions model features a high usage of wage labour, the Yangtze Valley model presents a high level of tenancy development, and the Southern Regions model displays the highest share of landowners. All three models saw increasing use of wage labour in 1761–1890 and shrinking landownership in 1821–90. At the regional level, the long-run estimate for Lower Yangtze suggests that the region as a whole stagnated throughout the entire period, but the overall structural stasis hides dynamic, contrasting long-run economic change between the region’s core and peripheral areas. Comparative analysis with England further suggests that the timing of the Great Divergence between China and England took place before 1734, even in the context of the regional difference.