Both the Kamaishi Ironworks of Japan and Qingxi Ironworks of China were founded in the second half of the 19th century, and mark the beginning of the transfer of Western iron and steel technology into early modem East Asia. It is worth noting that both the two enterprises chose Britain as the source for their technology, and both failed rather rapidly. In this article, the historical details of the importation of the Western technology into the Kamaishi and Qingxi works are studied and their failures compared. Three different characteristics of the transfer of iron and steel technology at such an early stage of the two country＇ s development are presented. Firstly, the technological reasons that caused the failure of the two ironworks were different. The Kamaishi furnaces operated well, but were shut down because of a shortage of charcoal. The Qingxi furnaces, however, never operated properly, meaning that the technology transfer there was a total failure. Secondly, the purpose of the construction of the two plants was different. For the Meiji govemment, the construction of the Kamaishi Ironworks was an expression of its strong desire for ＂civilization building＂, and the decision-making system for the importation of the technology comprised a network of both Japanese and foreigners. The Qingxi Ironworks, in contrast, was built by the Governor of Guizhou province, who mainly wanted to overcome provincial financial difficulties. The decision-making system throughout the process was comprised solely of Chinese, who lacked the requisite professional knowledge, which meant that inappropriate equipment was selected. Thirdly, the Kamaishi Ironworks was an important link in the chain of the modernization of iron and steel technology in Japan, while the Qingxi Ironworks contributed very little to the whole development process of modem iron and steel technology in China.