Recent seminars

Dr Norman Stockman, University of Aberdeen

Working in No-Man’s Land: Between Social Science and Chinese Studies.

Thursday 26th February, 2015. The argument I develop in this paper can be summarised as follows: together with a whole range of theoretical and political disputes and dilemmas, institutional and organisational factors within the processes of higher education and research operate to create and maintain barriers to fruitful interaction between sociology and Chinese studies, and quite possibly between disciplines and area studies more generally. In the terms of Burton Clark’s sociology of higher education, these factors operate to maintain boundaries between sections of higher education institutions, defined as horizontally differentiated units making up the division of academic labour. Put another way, the more successful Chinese studies are in establishing their own departments, centres, associations, conferences, informal networks, funding streams, research assessment procedures, and so on, the more detached they become from disciplines in the social sciences and elsewhere, and quite possibly the less influence Chinese studies have within the disciplines, as a force for de-parochialisation or in any other way. The more Chinese studies own the study of China, the less incentive there is for sociologists and others to take account of China. Perhaps more active attempts to incorporate China into the work of the disciplines should come from the discipline itself.

Dr Dibyesh Anand, University of Westminster

Rethinking Post-Coloniality in the Contemporary World: China in Tibet and India in Kashmir.

Thursday 12th February, 2015. China and India, the two Emerging powers, pride themselves in their history of anti-colonial struggles and anti-imperialist politics. However, what we witness in Tibet and in Kashmir are not illustrations of China and India's policies toward minorities but minoritisation of ethno-national peoples with their own sense of homeland and distinct identities. The majority-minority relations in China, especially when it comes to Han-Tibetan relations, and in India when it concerns Indian-Kashmiri relations, ought to be recognised for its asymmetrical nature of power to name, transform, domesticate and even destroy the peoples being minoritised. The lecture will argue for recognising such asymmetrical relations as stemming from the colonial nature of state in China and India. It will identify different dynamics of economic, military, political and discursive colonisation as practiced and experienced in Tibet and Kashmir by China and India respectively.


Dr Daniel HammondUniversity of Edinburgh

"The Enemy Unseen: the Appearance and Significance of China and the Chinese in the Fallout Series."

Thursday 27 November 2014. This paper explores how China is represented in the popular and critically acclaimed Fallout series of role playing games. While the games are set in a post-apocalyptic United States of America an important part of the background and story is China as the main protagonist in conflicts which led to a nuclear war in 2077. This paper provides an early articulation of observations and ideas related to how China and the Chinese are represented in the series and why it matters. The paper argues that the Fallout series is important in two ways. First, it plays into existing long term patterns of othering China; and second, it builds on and projects the notion of China as a threat to the West. These two themes are discussed through an examination of two different aspects of the game. First, the background story to the games where China initially was an unspoken and unseen enemy which has steadily gained in significance and detail as the series has developed. Second, the representation of the Chinese as others in the game, typically as infiltrators, stealth enhanced assassins or “ghouls”. The paper concludes by situating the discussion of the Fallout series in the wider context of historical imaginings in games and the literature on China’s rise.

Dr David Tobin, University of Glasgow

"Worrying About Ethnicity: Towards a New Generation of China Dreams?"

Thursday 13th November 2014. ‌The violent events of Lhasa 2008 and Urumchi 2009 which left nearly 200 dead in Xinjiang lead then Guangdong Party Committee Secretary and now 3rd ranked Vice Premier, Wang Yang, to suggest that China that needs to re-adjust its ethnic minority policies or there will be further “difficulties”. International Relations debates within China are now increasingly concerned with how to avoid domestic insecurity in Xinjiang and Tibet derailing China’s rise to global superpower status. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) explains that ethnic unity(minzu tuanjie) is a “zero-sum political struggle of life or death” for the Chinese nation. Unusually frank debates amongst scholars at Beijing’s elite universities are for the first time being publicised on the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC) website as an “exploration of a Second generation of ethnicpolicies”. The inter-generationalpolicy debate is ostensibly between proponents of the First generation of ethnic minority policies who wish to maintain China as a multi-ethnic state of 56 different minzu groups and the Second generation who seek to transform China into a mono-ethnic race-state (guozu). This paper will analyse the Second generation of minzu policies debate not as an institutional or geopolitical struggle but as an ideational struggle to articulate the future and the identity of the Chinese nation. It will explore how the two generations conceptualise the dangers of majority ethnic chauvinism and minority ethnic nationalism in constructing the dreams and nightmares of China’s futures.

Dr Elena Barabantseva, University of Manchester

When Borders Lie Within: Ethnic Marriages and Security on the Sino-Vietnamese Border

Thursday 29 May 2014. This paper examines the changing status of traditional ethnic marriages and new configurations of border control in the context of the Sino-Vietnamese border in Guangxi Autonomous Region in China. The groups inhabiting the mountainous ranges of this ethnically diverse part of Southeast Asia evaded the reach of the state until the 1990s when China and Vietnam started increasingly tightening control of the newly marked land border. As the ambiguous space of overlapping ethnic networks has been giving way to a rigidly and clearly delimited Sino-Vietnamese borderland, the binary forms of classification started replacing earlier fluid identifications, and the room for diverse social and cultural expressions became restricted. This dynamic context sets the scene for border communities and their long-standing tradition of ethnic marriages straddling the borders of China and its southern neighbouring states.In order to understand how and why the status of the earlier accepted forms of undocumented ethnic marriages has recently changed from ‘common’ (shishi) to ‘illegal’ (feifa) marriages, I look at how the securitisation of marriage migration in Asia, concerns about population security and particular formulations of anti-trafficking campaigns come into play in forceful ways to set the conditions for the state dominant perceptions of ethnic marriages.

Professor William A Callahan, London School of Economics

Chinese Responses to the China Dream

Thursday 1 May 2014. On November 29, 2012 Xi Jinping announced that his China Dream was the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. This seminar will examine China Dream discourse from both before and after Xi's statement. It will consider how the China Dream concept emerged as part of a public debate over values that accompanied the PRC's leadership transition, and will examine how Chinese intellectuals responded to China Dream discourse in 2013. Since this research involves video interviews, the seminar will consider the methodological problems and possibilities of using video interviews to study Chinese politics and society. The seminar will include a screening of "China Dreams," a 10 minute video documentary.


Dr Anna Lora Wainwright , University of Oxford

'China’s ‘Cancer Villages’: Resigned Activism, Pollution and Morality'

Thursday 27 March 2014. In February 2013, the Chinese government publicly acknowledged the existence of ‘cancer villages’ (clusters of high cancer incidence typically correlated with pollution), feeding a controversy that started in 2001 with the first appearance of the term. My talk will address cancer experiences in rural China in two ways. In the first part, I will draw on my recently published monograph, Fighting for Breath: Living Morally and Dying of Cancer in a Chinese Village, to illustrate how people in rural China experience and understand cancer, what they do about it, and how they cope with it. This work draws on almost two years of ethnographic fieldwork in one village with high cancer rates. It takes those experiences and practices as lenses through which to understand some key themes in the study of contemporary China, particularly emerging forms of morality, social change, family conflicts, rural-urban inequality and the tensions between villagers and the local state. Conversely, it shows how arguments over the cause of cancer, decisions about appropriate care and mourning practices articulate family relations and attitudes to poverty, consumerism and development.

In the second part, I draw on multi-sited fieldwork and collaborative work with Chen Ajiang on ‘cancer villages’. Growing concern and unrest over pollution and its health effects mean that ‘cancer villages’ are not only a medical phenomenon, but also a deeply social, cultural and political one. I will examine discourses and actions on the part of local residents, campaigners, polluting firms, local and higher government, the legal system and the media. These elements form a complex web which shapes the evolving social, political and scientific life of this concept, its implications, and the various effects its adoption has had on those living in the shadow of high cancer rates. This is part of my current book project on environmental health activism in rural China (or lack thereof, in many places).


Dr Kun-Hui Ku, National Tsinghua University

'Preliminary Investigation on Indigenous Citizenship in Asia'

Thursday 6th March 2014. The passing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 is a landmark for the struggle of basic rights for indigenous Peoples worldwide, even though it is not a legally binding instrument under international law. However, the concept of “indigenous peoples” is hotly debated in the context of Asia. This talk attempts to examine how the concept of indigeneity is construed in Asian countries (especially Taiwan, Philippines and Malaysia) and how their respective colonial past (Japan, America, Britain) might have had impact on the later development of indigenous rights’ issues. That is, how the colonial classification systems have had influence on who is considered to be “indigenous” or “native” and on what ground, and how that colonial legacy feeds into the post-colonial (or neo-colonial) contexts. What role does the concept of indigeneity play in the national identity issue in these respective countries? What difference does it make in terms of international recognition on how different Asia countries handle the indigenous issues?


Dr Astrid Nordin , Lancaster University

The ‘Scandalous’ Legacy of the Tiananmen Massacre: An Essay on Academic Complicity

Thursday 6th March 2014. As publics in the West try to grapple with the challenges posed by China’s rise, and the Chinese regime pours increasing efforts into convincing them that this rise will be good for the world, one event stands out as particularly problematic: the Tiananmen massacre. With this year’s 25-year anniversary of the events around 4th June 1989, when at least hundreds of demonstrators were killed by Chinese army troops in Beijing, we have seen a flurry of activity to grapple with, and capitalise on, its legacy. These various representations of the massacre are part of a wider struggle over the representation of China’s past, present and future. The Chinese government appears determined not to recognise the June 4th events as an error (indeed, the Chinese Communist Party is not in the habit of apologising for past horrors, or present ones for that matter). Its approach continues to be one of absolute censorship of any discussion on the matter. In response to this silence and denial, a range of voices have been raised to counter this governmental cover-up with revelatory truth-telling, denouncing what happened around June 4th, as well as the Chinese government’s stance on it since, as a “scandal.” In this article, I engage with this response by querying the effects of such denunciations of scandal. I argue that although there may be good reasons to counter the Big Lie with the Big Truth, and to label that which we strongly disagree with as ‘scandalous’, such a politics of representation may make us unwittingly complicit in things that we would rather not be complicit in.


Dr Joanne Smith Finley, University of Newcastle

Redistribution of Wealth or Consolidation of Majority Han Power? The ‘National Partner Assistance Programme’ in Khotän, Xinjiang

Thursday 28st November, 2013 Following the 2009 ethnic riots in Xinjiang, senior leaders met in Beijing in March 2010 to call for an East-West collaboration in which richer provinces and municipalities would act as donors and investors in a scheme to build Xinjiang into a ‘moderately well-off society’. Officials from 64 departments were sent to the region to study how to improve residents’ livelihoods and ‘promote ethnic equality and unity’. A similar drive was announced in Tibetan regions, suggesting that Chinese leaders continue to believe that developing the economies of restive peripheral regions will quell ethnic instability. The ‘national partner assistance programme’, involving 19 provinces and municipalities in China proper, is expected to provide financial support, training and education to Xinjiang’s least developed southern oases, where the majority population is Uyghur. Yet so far only one aspect of this policy received local approval: the increase in minimum monthly wages. Other initiatives are widely perceived as intended to benefit Han migrants, desperate to escape from an over-populated China proper and expand into new spaces. The Khotän Zhejiang Industrial Park, 2 square km of land plots earmarked for new factories, was supposed to create jobs for local Uyghurs. Yet so far the land is occupied mainly by Han speculators, who dig up empty plots in search of jade, while Uyghur jade traders are banned from digging in the area on the grounds that this disrupts ‘flood prevention work’. Consequently, local Uyghurs claim the programme has done little to assist people in Xinjiang, but rather speeds the process of ‘giving away what belongs to us’ – namely, the region’s natural resources. A second industrial park, funded by Beijing, has led to the construction of roads, power and water infrastructure. Yet after several key posts in the Khotän city government were filled by officials from Beijing in 2011, local fears of increased corruption and land speculation in favour of Han incomers have escalated. This paper assesses whether the ‘national partner assistance programme’ represents a genuine desire from the centre for spatial (and ethnic) redistribution of wealth, or rather the consolidation of majority group power on the north-western periphery.


Professor Su Hao,  China Foreign Affairs University, Department of Diplomacy

China’s Geopolitical Logic and its Position in Asia’

Thursday 21 November 2013. 


Professor Ian Taylor, University of St Andrews

‘The BRICS in Africa: Diversifying Dependency?’.

Thursday 7th November, 2013. Abstract: China has rapidly emerged as Africa's main bilateral trading partner. Whilst there have been a number of positives emanating from this development, questions remain to be asked about the overall role of China in Africa. Despite claims to the contrary, China does not provide any serious political alternative for Africa and in the economic realm, FDI flows from China to Africa are highly concentrated in the infrastructure and extractive sectors. The implications for Africa’s continued dependency on primary commodities, particularly in the energy and minerals sector is a worry for the continent’s future development trajectories. African agency may well be the deciding factor on whether or not China brings anything qualitatively new to the continent, instead of simply diversifying (and deepening) Africa's dependency within the global political economy.


Dr Oliver Turner, University of Manchester

“American Images of China: Identity, Power, Policy”.

Thursday 17 October 2013. Abstract: Since the very beginning of Sino-US relations in the late 18th century, Americans have perceived China and the Chinese in very particular ways. The images which have circulated American society have been enormously varied and complex, from complimentary and idealistic, to derogatory and racist. Across the centuries however powerful commonalities and continuities of imagery have been evident. Indeed some images which emerged and became established within American society hundreds of years ago are still in evidence today. Of particular interest here are four especially enduring images: Idealised, Uncivilised, Opportunity and Threatening China. It is argued that these images have remained in circulation beneath fleeting shifts of attitude and opinion at given times. Perhaps most importantly, it is argued that these especially pervasive and enduring images have always been highly complicit within the enactment and justification of US China policy, and remain so today. Furthermore, US China policy does not merely represent an ‘end point’ for imagery. That policy itself has always been active in the reproduction of images, promoting and perpetuating the very images upon which it relies.


Dr Wenjie Wu, University of Glasgow

“Rail Access, Subjective Wellbeing and Land Market Capitalization”

Thursday 3 October 2013. Abstract: Development of rail transport infrastructure is a key policy focus---particularly in countries like China which have experienced fast urbanization over the past decade. This paper uses a powerful method to explore the impact of the transport improvement program, identified by rail access changes, on homeowners’ happiness using a unique micro geo-coded survey data set. The transport improvement program that adopted here is the opening of new rail stations in 2008 Beijing. Using this program as an exogenous change, this paper implements a quasi-experimental approach that can avoid most of the biases inherent in traditional cross-sectional regressions. The results show that transport improvements affect local area level homeowners’ happiness with respect to different dimensions of residential environment. However, such effects are not distributed evenly over space and social groups. The results also reinforce the impression that the changes in happiness might be reflected in changes in housing demands so in some way can be capitalized into local real estate markets.


Dr Lei Xie, University of Exeter

“Democratic principles and their practice in China’s environmental decision making”

Thursday 2nd May 2013. In China, public involvement in environmental governance has been identified as a distinct policy arena that sees an increasing incorporation of democratic procedures. The existing scholarship has provided little systematic evaluation on this respect. This article examines the patterns, characteristics and consequences of public participation in China’s environmental policy development. By defining democratic principles in four dimensions, hypotheses on the participatory agenda are developed to investigate the practice of democratic procedures and the outcome of China’s environmental participation. Three policy areas are selected including ecological reconstruction, water management and waste management. This article concludes that deliberative democracy has been practised in China’s environmental decision making process. Correlation can be found between positive policy outcomes and the level of democratic principles realized. It also infers that the rationale behind the government promotion of such practices lies in ameliorating its policy making and implementation.

Dr Yang Jin, UNESCO, and Professor Norman Longworth (hosted jointly with CR&DALL)

“The development of a network of learning cities and a learning city index: rationale and objectives”

Thursday 28 March 2013.
  In recent years, several studies have shown that the creation of learning cities has become an effective instrument in promoting lifelong learning in the international community, despite various challenges. A nation aspiring to build a learning society or develop a lifelong learning system may use the names ‘learning cities’, ‘learning regions’ or ‘learning communities’ to mobilise or encourage their local authorities. To facilitate the development of learning cities in the international community, a truly global network of learning cities is needed.  UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), in collaboration with interested national, regional and international organisations and agencies as well as private sector corporations, proposes the establishment of the UNESCO Global Learning Cities Network (UNESCO-GLCN) to enhance and accelerate the practice of lifelong learning in the world’s urban communities. The overall aim of the establishment of the UNESCO-GLCN is to create a global platform to mobilise cities and demonstrate how to use effectively their resources in every sector to develop and enrich all their human potential to foster lifelong personal growth, the development of equality and social justice, the maintenance of harmonious social cohesion, and the creation of sustainable prosperity.  One of the objectives of the UNESCO-GLCN is to develop a Global Learning City Index. To be reliable and instrumental, the development of the index needs to reflect – inter alia - a variety of principles, policies and approaches in building learning cities in the international community, including political will and commitment, partnership and networking, increasing learning opportunities, combating exclusion and enhancing social cohesion, promoting wealth creation and employability, as well as recognising and rewarding all forms of learning.


Dr Xiangqun Chang, London School of Economics

“How a Chinese community is lost in London: an analysis with lishang-wanglai Model”

Friday 8 March 2013. Abstract: Lishang-wanglai (礼尚往来) is a Chinese model of reciprocity and social networks, borrowed from a term deeply rooted in Chinese culture. This seminar introduces the lishang-wanglai model as an alternative to the “China Model” as it uses a bottom-up approach and social creativity as a driver. The case of how Chinese migrants made Oriental City in Northwest London, the largest shopping centre complex in Europe, will be demonstrated.  It will show Chinese migrants’ mobility from the margins to centre of societies (when the Oriental City was successful), and how individuals or groups can play multiple roles in the margins or centres at the same time. Channels of changing one’s positions from margins to centres or vice versa are through making good relationships. Through analyses of an example of failure of the local government’s idea of integration it will also show how the migrants had been marginalised after the Oriental City had been closed.


Dr Chunxia Jiang, Middlesex University, with Shujie Yao (Nottingham) and Genfu Feng (Xian Jiaotong University)

"Bank Ownership, Privatization, and Performance: Evidence from a Transition Country"

Thursday 21 February 2013. Abstract: This paper combines the static effect of ownership and the dynamic effect of privatization on bank performance in China over 1995-2010 reporting a significantly higher performance by private intermediaries – joint stock commercial banks and city commercial banks – relative to state-owned commercial banks. However, publicly traded banks, subject to multiple monitoring and vetting in capital markets, perform better regardless of ownership status. The privatization of banks has improved performance with respect to revenue inflow and efficiency gains, both in the short- and long-run (initial public offerings). These results are more relevant and significant for banking institutions with minority foreign ownership. Moreover, this paper innovatively estimates interest income efficiency and non-interest income efficiency. The results suggest that Chinese banks are much more efficient in generating interest income than raising non-interesting income, though the latter has improved significantly during the sample period.


Professor Ya Ping Wang, University of Glasgow

"China’s Urban Housing Revolution: from socialist work units to gated communities and migrant enclaves"

Thursday 14 February 2013. Abstract: Chinese cities experienced a housing revolution over the past three decades. At the beginning of the 1980s, about 80% of Chinese urban residents rented their accommodation, mostly from state owned employers, and lived in overcrowded communal buildings inside work unit compounds. Housing reforms and real estate development have replaced this socialist welfare housing provision with a market system. More than 80% of official urban residents now own their homes and many live in expensive flats or cottages inside gated communities. There is no dispute that the general living conditions for many urban Chinese are at their best. However, housing inequality and housing price inflation have emerged as very serious problems in all large cities. Not only the poor rural to urban migrants cannot afford to live in decent housing and have to find their accommodation in construction sites, in old and poor quarters of cities and in the so-called urban villages; young graduates have also found it difficult to step onto the housing ladder and have to live in substandard rooms in places such as basements. This seminar reviews the process of housing transformation in China and assesses the achievements and problems of the new urban housing provision system. It also explores the solutions to these problems based on international experiences.


Dr Sai Ding, University of Glasgow

“Does China overinvest? Evidence from a panel of Chinese firms”

Thursday 7 February 2013.
Abstract: This paper uses a dataset of more than 100,000 firms over the period of 2000-07 to assess whether and why Chinese firms overinvest. We find that corporate investment in China has become increasingly efficient over time. However, within all ownership categories, we find evidence indicating a degree of overinvestment by firms that invest more than their industry median or than their predicted optimal investment. The free cash flow hypothesis provides a good explanation for China’s overinvestment in the collective and private sectors, whereas in the state sector overinvestment is attributable to the poor screening and monitoring of enterprises by banks. Despite the rising investment efficiency in general, overinvestment appears to be common in the Chinese corporate sector but for different reasons in different types of firms.

Professor Xiaolan Fu, University of Oxford

“Multi-dimensional Complementarities and the Growth Impact of Direct Investment from China on Host Countries”

Thursday 31st January 2013. Abstract: This paper examines the growth impact of developing country outward direct investment (OFDI) on the economic growth in host developing countries using a cross country panel dataset of Chinese OFDI over the 2003-2010 period. It finds that the growth effect of Chinese OFDI is determined by the multi-dimensional complementarities between the particular FDI flow, which is host country-specific, and the host economies. Overall Chinese OFDI appears to have a positive and significant impact on their long-run economic growth in host economies despite a negative association with short-run growth as Chinese OFDI seeks a variety of objectives in addition to a high growth market. Chinese OFDI appears to have contributed positively to the economic growth not only in Africa but also in Europe and North America. However, its contribution in Asia and Latin America is insignificant. Although the illustration of Chinese OFDI being mainly resource-seeking is exaggerating and misleading, Chinese OFDI in resource-rich country cannot avoid the resource curse either.


Dr Bin Wu, University of Nottingham

“Class Consciousness amongst Chinese Migrant Workers in Italy and the UK”

Thursday 24th January 2013. Abstract: The growing literature on international migration has a tendency to emphasise homogenous elements such as shared ethnic background, social network, and cultural similarities in shaping immigrants’ identity. We argue that this underestimates the differences (and sometimes conflicts) of interests between ethnic employers and migrant workers and that class needs to be brought back into the studies of ethnic relationship. Based upon findings from a series of fieldwork in Veneto, Italy and East Midlands, UK, this paper contends that class consciousness has co-existed, sometimes uneasily, alongside co-ethnic and cultural relationship amongst Chinese migrant workers and has played an important part in the making of new Chinese communities. By analysing the perspectives of Chinese migrant workers and their relationship with co-ethnic entrepreneurs, this paper illustrates complex factors behind the formation, diffusion and development of class consciousness amongst Chinese migrant workers.


Dr Victoria Harrison, University of Glasgow

“Exemplar Reasoning as a Tool for Understanding China Today”

Thursday 22 November 2012. Abstract: “Exemplar Reasoning” promotes intercultural understanding by focusing on exemplary persons, rather than on abstract ideas or on the classic texts of a tradition. Through structured conversation, participants explore the ideas and values that are expressed in the way exemplary figures live, or have lived, their lives. This method is particularly suitable for use in contexts where facilitating greater understanding between people from China and people from the West is the goal. This is because of the enormous importance given to exemplary figures, in the form of sages, within Chinese traditions. This importance is well-documented and can be traced from the earliest phases of Confucian traditions through to the present day. Such culturally rich material is ideal subject matter for conversations following the “Exemplar Reasoning” method. Intercultural conversation based on “Exemplar Reasoning” aims to go much deeper than the exchange of simple accounts of the lives of these exemplary figures. Instead it seeks to uncover the influence of these exemplary figures on the way that people now live within, and experience, their own cultural milieu. This talk will explore the potential for using “Exemplar Reasoning” as a tool for understanding China today.


Dr William Schroeder, University of Manchester

“An Affective Method for Studying China”

Thursday 15 November 2012. Abstract: This talk is about the ways affect theory might help us resolve problems that arise in the study of marginalised communities in the PRC. Based on research experiences with queer Chinese groups' fraught relationship with 'activism', I explore the limits of the political, the challenges of the moral, and the benefits of the emotional in furthering 'authentic' analyses. Recent ethnographic research in Beijing suggests that the kind of politically and socially agitative activism that many anthropologists and queer theorists have assumed is crucial is actually seen as undesirable by queer people on the ground. My informants have preferred strategies based on establishing positive emotional connections with their peers rather than those that defeat their enemies. Yet researchers continue to give activism and activist agendas a methodological pride of place, often starting their projects from within activist communities that do exist and basing their findings on the cultural logics produced therein. This can produce an analysis of 'lack' -- in other words, we as scholars end up making judgements about what local communities should need or want (activism, political change, revolution), rather than what they tell us they need and want (a social life, emotionally satisfying experiences, play, escape). This suggests that we could broaden our sense of what activism means and of what is included in our estimations of the political, and that we may wish to reconsider the interventionism that has become commonplace in social-scientific approaches to queerness and other forms of marginality. A method based on affect theory can help us do this, not only because it addresses the emotionalism many queer Chinese people seek, but also because it focuses on open-endedness and unpredictability.


Dr Haina Zhang, University of Glasgow

“Contemporary Chinese Business Leadership”

Tuesday 6 November, 2012. Abstract: This research takes a process and integrative approach to investigate contemporary leadership in the Chinese context, theorizing on Bourdieu’s sociology and Chinese philosophy. This research intends to develop deeper understandings of leadership practices in Chinese organizations through contextualizing, developing, and re-establishing leadership theories. Employing in-depth case studies featuring interviews, questionnaires, and observation, this research offers insight into the predominant Chinese indigenous leadership style, i.e., paternalistic leadership, while also identifying both similarities and distinctions between Chinese and Western versions of popular leadership theories (i.e., charismatic, transformational, authentic, aesthetic, and pragmatic leadership). The plurality of models of leadership emphasizing Chinese value-rationality and pragmatic world views is constituted from a Chinese philosophical perspective in this study. This research also intends to facilitate the dialogue of civilizations and business by introducing contextualizing knowledge about the Chinese world.


Professor Guan Xinping, Nankai University

"China's social policy development in the current new socioeconomic transition"

Thursday 1 November, 2012.
Abstract: This seminar will discuss the reform and development of China’s social policy in the last three decades, with the main focus on the new changes in the last decades, which is called a “new transitional period” by the speaker. There will be three parts in the talk. The first part will be a historical review of China’s social policy development in 1980s-90s, against the background of market transition and the Open-Door policy. In the second part, some main social problems at the beginning of the new century, which resulted from the economic and social welfare reforms in 1980s-90s, will be discussed, and the main new social policy actions will be analyzed, including significant new social programmes, such as social security, housing, health and education, etc. In part three, some possible further changes of social policy in the near future will be analyzed, including new goals, principles and institutional arrangements.


Dr Zhai Lei, Nankai University

"Project Oriented Organization of Local Government in China: Considering a Project Oriented Developing Mode"

Thursday 25 October, 2012. Abstract: China is in a process of high speed urbanization and modernization with a 10 percent average GDP growth rate for 30 years. But the way of developing is quite different from western countries. Projects which promoted by government or invested in directly by government -- such as development areas, basic construction -- play a very important role. This can be called a “project oriented” development mode, and it is necessary for local governments to reform their organization to meet the requirement of the projects. This talk answers three questions: what is project oriented organization? Are the local governments in China project oriented organizations, and how can we reform local government organization? Some policy implications will be also be discussed.


Professor Sun Tao, Nankai University

“Urbanization in China”

Thursday 18th October, 2012. Abstract: Urbanization is changing the administrative hierarchies of China, and also is transforming deeper social and political structures. Massive shifts in the distributions of population, commerce and investment, wealth creation and redistribution, and emergent social needs are all bringing with them dramatic revisions in both the functional responsibilities and the organizational structure and profile of the state at the centre and at local levels as well. This paper first briefly reviews some reconfigurations of the pre-reform hierarchy of local state administration that have been deployed to accompany and promote urban growth, such as placing counties under the direct administration of municipalities (市管县), encouraging the proliferation of ‘special economic zones’, creating more centrally administered municipalities like Chongqing and, recently, approving experimentation with the formation of giant ‘coordinated regional development zones’ (综合配套改革试验区). Then it turns the focus to analyzing the particular significance of the administrative system reform experiments that have been carried out giving ‘expanded powers’ to certain counties while placing them under the direct administration of provinces (省直管县). This paper tries to examine the especially noteworthy reconfiguration of the local state -- which has been officially slated for broad application by the end of 2012 over all of China’s provinces (although, still not in her autonomous regions) -- within the context of a more general evolution regarding the benefits of ‘combined’ or ‘separated’ governance between the rural and urban areas. From the recent available policy and academic discussions, this paper teases out what to be seen as the key dynamics in China’s administrative reform: the gradual phasing-out of the prefectural level of government; the re-drawing of administrative boundaries to create new provincial-level urban governments; and the comprehensive and dramatic re-districting of both rural and urban areas across the country, with a view simultaneously to shrinking the size of provinces and increasing their numbers. As for the suitable number of sub-national administrative jurisdictions, the boundaries Chinese policymakers will see fit to demarcate remain to be determined. However, the ongoing alterations in local state structures, which are now being debated, and progressively put into place, will serve to ‘flatten’ the administrative hierarchy of contemporary China, with potentially profound implications for rebalancing the power of large cities and provinces, and for re-equilibrating central-local relations.


Professor Robin Porter, University of Bristol

“China - the Legacy of May 4th:  Has Mr. Science Murdered Mr. Democracy”

Thursday 11 October, 2012. Abstract: It is almost one hundred years since the critical events of what came to be known as the ‘May 4th period’ in China set the parameters for China’s troubled transformation and emergence into the modern world.  Two key themes of the May 4th era debates were science and democracy, referred to by some prominent writers of the time as ‘Mr. Science’ and ‘Mr. Democracy’.  This talk will examine the meaning of these two ideas in the Chinese context, and their interrelationship over ensuing decades up to the present day.


Dr David Kerr, Durham University

 “China and Inner Asia: new frontiers and new challenges”

Thursday, 31 May2012. Abstract: 30 years ago Inner Asia was largely a historical term, as in classic works like Lattimore’s ‘Inner Asian Frontiers of China’. Inner Asia has returned to international significance in recent decades as a result of a complex mix of emerging civil societies, rising ethno-national and religious politics, and the relations between sovereign states of the region and external partners with conflicting visions of the region. Russia, the US, India, Turkey and Iran all seek to shape the new Inner Asia; but China is the most interesting case. China is unique because it is both internal to Inner Asia through its frontier provinces, but external by reason of history, culture, religion, and economic activity. Managing the open frontiers of Inner Asia presents considerable challenges to Beijing’s systems of domestic and international governance; but it also presents new frontiers for China’s ambitions to emerge as a Eurasian, not just Asian, great power.


Dr Daniel Hammond, University of Edinburgh

 “Rural social assistance: Learning from the urban experience?” 

Thursday, 23 February, 2012. Abstract: China’s social assistance system has undergone significant change since the early 1990s. The provision of assistance to those deemed in need has moved from a centrally funded and calculated category based system to a locally funded, administered and adjusted means tested program called the Minimum Livelihood Guarantee (MLG) system. The MLG system first emerged in Shanghai in June 1993 and was implemented nationally in urban areas in September 1997. In August 2007 Beijing announced a rural MLG program was to be implemented nationwide. This presentation seeks to address two questions related to the emergence and implementation of the rural MLG program. First, why was the decision to implement the rural version of the MLG made ten years after the corresponding urban program was decided on? Second, to what extent did policy-makers learn from the development of the urban MLG program and what does this say about policy-making in the People’s Republic?


Associate Professor Jinghong Nie, Sun Yat Sen University

 “Policy-making path and Influencing Factors under the New Media Situation--Case Studies of PX Incidents in Xiamen and Chengdu” 新媒体环境下政策制定的路径与因素 ——以厦门“PX事件”与成都“PX事件”为例

Thursday, 2 February, 2012. 摘要:新媒体环境下,一个环境问题被成功地构建,离不开诸多因素的共同介入。这其中,互补的媒介系统与公众充分互动,形成上级压力,从而为公共政策的制定带来了一种新气象。同样的PX事件,不同的结局,其中,我们可以观察到新媒体与政策(政治)之间的“拉锯”关系,观察到公共政策制定环节,各种不同主体所扮演的不同角色。Abstract: Under the new media situation, a successfully constructed environmental issue inevitably involves a wide range of factors, among which the media system consisting of new and traditional media playing different roles interacts with the public, putting pressure on the authorities from below and ultimately bringing about a new situation in public policy-making. It is noteworthy that two almost identical PX incidents in Xiamen and Chengdu produced totally contrary outcomes. After a deep investigation in these two incidents, we recognize different roles played from multiple subjects and the whole procedure of formulating a public policy. What’s more, the complicated and bitterly competitive relationship between the new media and policy making is also untangled. 


Dr Janet Liao, University of Dundee

 “China and the post-Kyoto Climate Change Policy: from Copenhagen to Durban” 

Thursday, 26 January, 2012. Abstract: The Kyoto Protocol has provided a vital framework and mechanism in tackling climate change. However, the flaws in its architecture and design, setting the principle of “Common but differentiated responsibilities” without making explicit criteria and timetable for change, have not only undermined its effects but also made the negotiations on the post-Kyoto climate regime an extremely tough process. As one of the largest CO2 emitters in the world, China has been blamed frequently for the failure to reach a new regime. However, it is worth to note that China has taken various measures domestically in tackling the climate change, and the breakthrough made by the Durban Platform would not have been possible without China’s endorsement.  Of course, China needs to do more in helping formulate the post-Kyoto climate regime, together with the other leading players, not only to save the earth from likely disasters, but also to justify its responsible power status in the world.


Professor Yang Long, Nankai University

“China's Model of Political Development"

Thursday, 19 January, 2012. Abstract: China’s political development takes place under a special party system, a unique mechanism of interest articulation, a special construction of center-local government relations, and a special system of ownership. The party system is the combination of the “leading party and “participating parties. The mechanism of interest articulation and aggregation includes as main subjects the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference(CPPCC, an associated constellation of interest groups, the media, and an appeals system. The challenges facing the Communist Party are how to extend its representativeness to include all Chinese and how to maintain its advanced nature. Another task is how to supervise its members, especially its officers. The challenges facing the mechanism of interest articulation and aggregation are the excessive pressures of appeals and demands confronting government, the slow growth of civil society, the low participatory ability of representativeness of the NPC, and so on. The special construction of center-local government is the combination of financial decentralization and political centralization. The large role of the state-owned sector in the economy also constitutes challenges related to the special system of ownership.


Dr Martin Mills, University of Aberdeen

 “Understanding Unrest in Modern Tibet”   

Thursday, 12 January, 2012. Abstract: The unrest that rocked Lhasa and many other towns in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China and its surrounding Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures in Spring 2008 is part of a long history of protest in what anthropologists refer to as the 'Tibetan Cultural Area' since the late 1980s, and has provided the Communist Party in Beijing with on-going security and national integration problems. However, the very breadth and diversity of the protests has also provided a problem for social and political scientists when it comes to understanding Tibetan  modes of social and political solidarity. This paper examines the debate between those seeking to understand the protests in terms of a modern nationalist emergence in Tibet, and those that argue that it harks back to older forms of loyalty to the Dalai Lamas.


Dr Yee Kwan Tang, University of Glasgow

“Export development of Chinese manufacturing SMEs and the prospect of the export trading industry”

Thursday 1 December, 2011. Abstract: SMEs are a core pillar in the domestic economy and major contributors to China’s foreign trade.  A majority of manufacturing SMEs in China followed the indirect exporting path to kick start their foreign business via trading companies (export intermediaries) initially due to restriction on export rights and the lack of foreign experiences. Export trading companies, therefore, play a significant role in facilitating the export development of manufacturing firms. The relaxation of direct export right and the emergence of electronic channels in recent years have brought significant changes to the export sector in China. Manufacturing SMEs are now offered more direct control over their export business. As such, the survival of the export trading sector appears to be under threat. Building on insights from interviews with Chinese SMEs in the manufacturing and trading sector, this research seminar seeks to initiate discussions on three related questions: First, how may the emergence of e-channels affect the export development of Chinese manufacturing SMEs? Second, how can export trading firms cope with new challenges to survive and grow? And third, how may these changes affect China’s export sector as a whole.


Dr Neil Munro, University of Glasgow

 “Polite Interest or Passion? Willingness to Join Green NGOs in China”

Thursday 17 November, 2011. Abstract: Less than one per cent of China’s adult population claim to be members of a self-organized environmental protection group, but almost two thirds say they would like to join one if they have the opportunity, and only around one fifth say they are not interested, according to the China General Social Survey of 2006 (N=10,151).  The expressed level of interest in joining environmental NGOs in this nationwide survey is remarkable. Using a variety of statistical techniques, this paper will attempt to decode the replies to judge the potential of “green civil society” in China.

China as a Great Power seminar

Dr Chris Ogden, University of St Andrews

 “China as a Great Power”

Thursday 10 November, 2011. Abstract: Can China be regarded as a great power?  Through an analysis across several key factors (including military prowess, economic strength, strategic culture and soft power), this seminar will investigate how East Asia’s largest state measures up in the international system.  Using both theoretical and historical perspectives, it will assess China’s contemporary significance and evaluate its future global importance.


Dr Yupin Chung, Burrell Collection & University of Glasgow

“From ‘Yeast’ to West: Revisiting the Art Workshop China

Thursday 3 November 2011. Abstract: In China, the economic revolution expresses itself in distinct ways, leading to a variety of political and economic transformations, and to alternative views on art and artists. This development has also ushered in a new chapter of export art known as ‘Chinese Contemporary Art’ especially in the field of oil paintings from ‘Chinese young artists’. During the 1980s, the Ministry of Culture played a major role in developing art academies. The academy-trained painters followed the style of French impressionism and Russian naturalism. However, the new generation of artists born in the late 1970s and early 1980s became increasingly stirred by contemporary Western concepts and transferred the making of propaganda art into an appropriate way of expressing their ideas about a fast-changing China. This paper explores the question whether our understanding of ‘Chinese Art’ is a contradiction to the history of Chinoiserie. It aims at investigating the State of the Art, and at analyzing the diverse effects of the economic revolution on Chinese art and artists.


Professor Ian Holliday, University of Hong Kong

 “Rising China and Global Justice” (organized jointly with the Politics subject area)

Monday 24 October 2011. Abstract: Two key features of contemporary international politics are the rise of China and a heightened interest in global justice. However, the relationship between the two is rarely explored. What impact might China's growing great power status have on debates about global justice? How will the cross-border activism of the past 20 years be affected by Beijing's looming presence in international society? The seminar will address these questions by examining Chinese theory and practice in the context of international engagement with issues of global justice.










Public Lectures


Professor Christine Wong, Professor of Chinese Public Finance, University of Oxford China Centre

"Riding the Tiger: Challenges of China’s Municipal Finance in the 21st Century"

University of Glasgow, Monday, 21 May 2012.  Abstract:  From 1980 to 2011, the number of people living in Chinese cities increased by 500 million.  This is urbanization on a scale and pace unprecedented in human history.   Financing infrastructure and public services to accommodate the growing population and economic base presented a gargantuan challenge that, in China’s decentralized fiscal system, was left to municipal governments, with little assistance from higher levels.

The cities responded with great energy and ingenuity.  Under a policy regime of benign neglect from the central government, they expanded their resources by tapping a variety of extra-budgetary revenues including land, they limited eligibility to urban services by excluding migrants, and they created corporate entities to borrow.   The strategy helped China achieve spectacular growth over the past 3 decades, but left in its wake a patchwork of risky and unsustainable financing mechanisms, a mountain of debt and a two-tiered urban populace.  Fixing the system of municipal finance is critical to China’s transition from middle-income to high-income status, and to her long term prospects for creating humane and liveable cities.


Professor Jane Duckett, Politics, University of Glasgow 

The China Challenge: Models, Visions and Global Futures,

University of Edinburgh, Thursday 29 October 2009. Abstract: this lecture examined China's development experience since 1949, focussing in particular on its social outcomes. China's economic power and global influence have led commentators to suggest that it has a model of development and modernity that will challenge the West's. This lecture looks at the models that China has embraced since 1949 and considers both their origins and very different economic and social outcomes. It argues that having rejected both the Soviet-Maoist and neoliberal models, China may now be at an important crossroads. As it reconsiders its development strategy its government has the opportunity to forge a new model. But will it have the vision and will to overcome formidable opposition?


Prof Nick Pearce, History of Art, University of Glasgow,

'Sinology or Art History?' - Formalism v Cultural Relativism in the Study of Chinese Art in the West during the first half of the 20th Century'

University of Glasgow, Wednesday 5 March 2009

SCCR Seminar Programme 2013-2014 Semester 2

Thursdays, 4-5:30pm, Adam Smith Building, Room 718, University of Glasgow

 (D8 on the University Campus Map)

Thursday 19th March    

19th March

Dr Felix Boecking (University of Edinburgh, Lecturer in Modern Chinese Economic and Political History)

Dismal Scientists among the Hundred Flowers: Chinese Economists in the 1950s.

This paper discusses the experience of economists working in the early People’s Republic of China in the light of their background in the wartime Chinese Nationalist administration. Nationalist wartime economic policy was based on a move towards a government-directed economy that prefigured 1950s economic planning in many ways. Hence, recognizing the personal continuities between the two planning bureaucracies is important in understanding the Chinese Communist Party’s economic policies of the 1950s. Economics played an important role in the CCP’s efforts to build a socialist China during the New Democracy period (1949-1953) and the First Five-Year Plan (1953-1957). Primarily, the party-state used economics and economists both to address pressing economic issues, such as curbing inflation, price controls, and developing national income accounts. Increasingly, though, economists were also appointed to positions of responsibility for solving problems on the border of economics, such as demography, or plainly outside that border, as becomes apparent from the case of Zhou Youguang, who headed the Chinese government’s efforts to simplify the Chinese script in the 1950s. In economics, as in other parts of Chinese public life, the 1950s saw a reconsideration of the Stalinist model of development that intensified after Stalin’s death in 1953. This reconsideration, which was urged forward by the party-state leadership in the mass campaign of the Hundred Flowers Movement (1957) produced a number of thoughtful pieces from Chinese economists about the design of the Chinese economic system such as an article by Gu Zhun which suggested that even in China’s socialist economy, commodity prices should be determined by supply and demand. In this paper, I will argue that Chinese economics is part of an intellectual tradition that bridges the common historiographical divide of the establishment of the PRC in 1949, and that it constituted an important state building tool for the newly established Chinese Communist state. 

The Scottish Centre for China Research Seminar Programme gratefully acknowledges the support from the Macfie Bequest.


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