The year 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the Third Plenum’s decisions on opening-up and reform (1978). The experimental integration of market elements into China’s centrally planned economy, sometimes classified as “Chinese variety of capitalism” or “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”, is still an ongoing and dynamically evolving process. To cope with the negative externalities and unexpected socio-ecological side-effects of the 1978 decisions, the 19th Party Congress held in 2017 redefined the guidelines of China’s official development path in the “New era”. This refined developmental strategy reflects domestic challenges as well as changing constellations at the global level and China’s role in international institutions.

This conference seeks to undertake a systematic, theory-guided analysis of China’s socio-economic development path in retrospective and comparativeperspective. During the past four decades, China’s economic system has evolved in a highly idiosyncratic fashion, in which bottom-up entrepreneurship and pressure for change have been as important as top-down decrees for economic development envisaged by the ruling party and government elite. Likewise, an increasingly intensive exposure to the global markets and its usances has resulted in institutional transplantations becoming a major stimulus for the design of the domestic socio-economic regime.

As the fifth generation of China’s political leaders has proclaimed the entrance into the stage of “new normal” (xin changtai), core features of the post-Maoist economic modernization strategy have become revised and partially reconfigured. Instead of separated reforms mainly limited to the fields of economy, the PRC now seeks to engage in simultaneous, coordinated reforms in five interrelated fields (wu wei yi ti). At the same time, China is positioning itself as defender of global free trade and actively pushes for the reform of the existing post-World War II international institutional order.

While propagating a selected set of liberal market values in the global arena, the domestic economy remains strictly controlled by the Communist Party and a specific regime of state-business collusion, in which the dividing line between a regulating state and the regulated business sector becomes blurred. The specific roles state-owned firms, private entrepreneurs and foreign invested players take up in the Chinese economy remain shrouded in mystery.
This international conference, organized by the IN-EAST/University of Duisburg-Essen, aspires for an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and insights. Scholars form the disciplines of business administration, economics, sociology, political science, and others are invited to submit proposals on the following topics:

  • specific phenomena of China’s reform and opening-up process, that have transcended (“contradicted”) established theoretical paradigms
  • the role of the government/party-state in economic development and business innovation
  • the role of institutional transfers in the evolution of China’s politico-economic regime since 1978
  • reform policies and institutional change targeting the unexpected negative side-effects of high-speed economic growth
  • China’s role in international economic governance (especially in the institutional context of WTO; IMF; World Bank; ADB; AIIB; OBOR/BRI)
  • financial reform and the internationalization of the RMB
  • formation and transformation of (transnational) labor markets
  • urbanization and labour migration
  • characteristic features of entrepreneurship in China’s politico-economic regime
  • patterns of innovation in China’s modern economy – digital innovation, fintec, AI, etc.
  • ecological dimensions of China’s new developmental model (e.g. green finance; emission trading);

Several distinguished scholars have accepted our invitation to give keynote speeches at the

  • Thomas Heberer, Senior Professor at Institute of East Asian Studies and Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Jean-François Huchet, Vice-President for Research, National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilization
  • Jun Zhang, Dean, School of Economics, Fudan University
  • Suisheng Zhao, Editor, Journal of Contemporary China; Professor of Chinese Politics
    and Foreign Policy, University of Denver
  • Akio Takahara, Professor of Contemporary Chinese Politics, University of Tokyo
  • Yang Yao, Dean, National School of Development, Peking University

The organizers welcome proposals for organized panels consisting of four to five paper givers and one discussant. Individual paper proposals will be considered for inclusion in thematic or interdisciplinary panels designed by the organizers. Submissions should include the name(s) of all authors, affiliation and contact details, title of panel/presentation and short paper abstracts (up to 250 words).

Please submit your panel/paper proposals until 31. August 2018 here.

Decisions on panels / papers accepted to the conference will be sent out by 07. September 2018.

Organised by:

  • Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen

Organization Committee:

  • Yuan Li
  • Nele Noesselt
  • Markus Taube

Cooperative Partners:

  • Fudan Development Institute
  • Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr
  • Stadt Duisburg