Proposal preview

The Path of China’s Development in Global Perspective

Over the past 40 years, China has transformed itself from a technologically backward and poor, to a moderately modern and affluent economy. China’s economic performance in the last two decades was extraordinary by any standard. Massive systemic changes were brought about in the world’s most populated economy, which at the same time maintained a world-leading growth rate, a single-digit inflation rate, a huge build-up of foreign exchange reserves, a sharp decline in poverty, and the wide participation of different sections of society in the benefits of economic growth.

In dealing with China’s extraordinary economic achievement of the past several decades, a new concept of “Chinese development path” has been proposed, and it now has become a hot issue in understanding the Chinese economy. Both inside and outside of China, people are researching and giving explanations for China’s economic success in recent decades, and at the same time have raised many questions: what and where are the political, economic, social, or cultural foundations for this rapid economic growth? What have the Chinese done similarly to or differently from nations that have successfully undergone economic transformation? Is China always borrowing the experiences of Western countries, or has it established its own unique development path? Is this fast-speed growth healthy and sustainable, and is there any historical root behind China’s economic performance, etc.?

This session intends to discuss Chinese economic changes in pre-modern and modern times and to explore the root reasons for today’s development. We try to understand the institutional origins and historical background of the unique China development path. specifically, we hope to figure out what historical factors shaped China’s development path: globalization? culture? natural and geographic endowments? we also want to summarize the unique features of China’s development path, and what useful experiences and lessons other developing economies can obtain from studying China’s development path. We invite scholars from all backgrounds and perspectives who are interested in this topic to engage in our discussion. Papers on the following aspects are particularly welcome: the impact of globalization on China’s economic development in the past 500 years; Ming-Qing China’s response to and engagement in the world economy; the relationship between state and merchants and between government and the market in different periods, and in comparison to the West; the role of culture in China’s unique path; the formation of capital in China’s development, etc.

Organizer(s)

  • Se Yan Peking University seyan@gsm.pku.edu.cn China
  • Li Zhang Beihang University lzhague@yahoo.com China
  • Xuejun Zhao Chinese Academy of Social Sciences zhao_xj@cass.org.cn China

Session members

  • Fumin Sui, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • Weipeng Yuan, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • Guo Fan, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • Yun Qu, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • Jinhua Su, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • Xu Chang, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • Yongqiang Guan, Nankai University
  • Jianbo Zhou, Peking University
  • Qiang Liu, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics

Discussant(s)

  • Debin Ma London School of Economics d.ma1@lse.ac.uk
  • Denggao Long Tsinghua University dglong@mail.tsinghua.edu.cn

This panel has Call for Papers open.
If you are interested in participating, please contact the panel organizer(s) to submit a proposal.

  • Se Yan, Peking University, seyan@gsm.pku.edu.cn, China
  • Li Zhang, Beihang University, lzhague@yahoo.com, China
  • Xuejun Zhao, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, zhao_xj@cass.org.cn, China

Papers

Panel abstract

1st half

The intergenerational mobility of Farmers’ land(abstract)

Fumin Sui

For Chinese farmers the land is the very important resource. They do not like to give up the rights for their land in the face of some hard situation. However, some persons do not have the opportunity to marry in his life or have not descendents so they have to give up their land. How is that the intergenerational mobility of Chinese farmers land? How much economic mobility is there across generations in a poor, primarily rural, economy? We address these questions using original survey data on Qingyuan(Baoding) country in North China which was conducted by Chen Hansheng and Sun Yefang and Xue Muqiao. This paper presents evidence on intergenerational mobility of farmers land in rural north China over a period of 16 years (1930-1946). We found that In China, farmers health play crucial roles in the intergenerational mobility in farmers land.

For Chinese farmers the land is the very important resource. They do not like to give up the rights for their land in the face of some hard situation. However, some persons do not have the opportunity to marry in his life or have not descendents so they have to give up their land. How is that the intergenerational mobility of Chinese farmers land? How much economic mobility is there across generations in a poor, primarily rural, economy? We address these questions using original survey data on Qingyuan(Baoding) country in North China which was conducted by Chen Hansheng and Sun Yefang and Xue Muqiao. This paper presents evidence on intergenerational mobility of farmers land in rural north China over a period of 16 years (1930-1946). We found that In China, farmers health play crucial roles in the intergenerational mobility in farmers land.

Analyzing the Provision and Management of Public Goods from Irrigation in Ancient China (abstract)

Guo Fan

Irrigation works were important public goods in imperial China. From Qin to Song dynasty irrigation works mainly depend on government spending and corvee. After Song dynasty there were more irrigation works built by local people of their own accord. The provision and management of irrigation depend on local people. Irrigation works were funded, built, maintained and repaired mostly by farmers in irrigation districts. Local government and landed gentries also played an important role when it was needed. In pre-­‐capitalism agricultural society water shortages made it hard for farmers to survive and survival ethics were based on the fear of the deficiency of food. The generosity and participation of landed gentries in public affairs would help them get generally recognized high place and farmers’ appreciation and loyalty.

Irrigation works were important public goods in imperial China. From Qin to Song dynasty irrigation works mainly depend on government spending and corvee. After Song dynasty there were more irrigation works built by local people of their own accord. The provision and management of irrigation depend on local people. Irrigation works were funded, built, maintained and repaired mostly by farmers in irrigation districts. Local government and landed gentries also played an important role when it was needed. In pre-­‐capitalism agricultural society water shortages made it hard for farmers to survive and survival ethics were based on the fear of the deficiency of food. The generosity and participation of landed gentries in public affairs would help them get generally recognized high place and farmers’ appreciation and loyalty.

The Characteristics of Western Oasis Agricultural Development in Ancient China: Based on Dunhuang and Tulufan Documents

Jinhua Su

This article attempts to investigate the characteristics of Western oasis agriculture in ancient China, the main factors influencing its development, and its relationship with the environment. Perfect irrigation system, reasonable means of applying water, strict water conservancy management were the basic assurance for oasis agriculture. Oasis agriculture took the productive structure of mixing nomadism and farming. Government played a dominant role in the development of ancient western oasis agriculture. What’s more, Relationship among nations and buddhist temples were also crucial to its development. The evolution of ancient western oasis environment was affected by natural factors, but in a greater degree by activities of human, especially, the ecological consciousness, and the political and military situation at that time.

This article attempts to investigate the characteristics of Western oasis agriculture in ancient China, the main factors influencing its development, and its relationship with the environment. Perfect irrigation system, reasonable means of applying water, strict water conservancy management were the basic assurance for oasis agriculture. Oasis agriculture took the productive structure of mixing nomadism and farming. Government played a dominant role in the development of ancient western oasis agriculture. What’s more, Relationship among nations and buddhist temples were also crucial to its development. The evolution of ancient western oasis environment was affected by natural factors, but in a greater degree by activities of human, especially, the ecological consciousness, and the political and military situation at that time.

Some current directions in accounting history research on original archival materials in China

Weipeng Yuan, Richard Macve

Complementing the recent exploration into the original account books contained in the archive of Tŏng Tài Shēng(‘TTS’) covering 1798-1850, our paper reports our exploration into the original account books contained in the archives of the Zìgòng brine wells for 1916-1917 and in original records from a merchant business in Huīzhōu which survive from 1847 onwards. While these accounts include more sophisticated financial statement preparation and reconciliation with underlying records than those of TTS, and in the case of the Huīzhōu accounts include amounts for physical rather than just monetary assets, nevertheless we conclude, on the basis of the evidence so far available, that as yet there is insufficent evidence to justify previous arguments in the literature that at this period Chinese accounting practice for successful businesses (must have) had its own 'Chinese double entry bookkeeping comparable to Western DEB.

Complementing the recent exploration into the original account books contained in the archive of Tŏng Tài Shēng(‘TTS’) covering 1798-1850, our paper reports our exploration into the original account books contained in the archives of the Zìgòng brine wells for 1916-1917 and in original records from a merchant business in Huīzhōu which survive from 1847 onwards. While these accounts include more sophisticated financial statement preparation and reconciliation with underlying records than those of TTS, and in the case of the Huīzhōu accounts include amounts for physical rather than just monetary assets, nevertheless we conclude, on the basis of the evidence so far available, that as yet there is insufficent evidence to justify previous arguments in the literature that at this period Chinese accounting practice for successful businesses (must have) had its own 'Chinese double entry bookkeeping comparable to Western DEB.

Restraining or Nonaction A Study of Ming and Qing Government's Relationship with Its Merchants from the Great Divergence Perspective

Qiang Liu

Based on three kinds of government's relationship with its merchants including mercantilism, nonaction and restraining commerce, this paper will study the role played by the government's relationship with its merchants on the Great Divergence between the west and the east. Through analyzing the Ming and Qing government's relationship with its merchants from looking down upon businessmen, we draw the conclusion that the social status of businessman was significantly improving since Ming and Qing dynasty,the boundaries between scholars and merchants became blur, the taxes on businessmen were not higher than farmers, the private foreign trade had also been included in the governmental regulation. The government gradually used businessman instead of direct control of the economy in order to achieve the goals. Therefore, comparing to the traditional view of Restraining Commerce, the actual relations between the government and its merchants are closer to neither encouraging nor restrictive.

Based on three kinds of government's relationship with its merchants including mercantilism, nonaction and restraining commerce, this paper will study the role played by the government's relationship with its merchants on the Great Divergence between the west and the east. Through analyzing the Ming and Qing government's relationship with its merchants from looking down upon businessmen, we draw the conclusion that the social status of businessman was significantly improving since Ming and Qing dynasty,the boundaries between scholars and merchants became blur, the taxes on businessmen were not higher than farmers, the private foreign trade had also been included in the governmental regulation. The government gradually used businessman instead of direct control of the economy in order to achieve the goals. Therefore, comparing to the traditional view of Restraining Commerce, the actual relations between the government and its merchants are closer to neither encouraging nor restrictive.

2nd half

Capital Formation in China’s Development Since 1949

Xuejun Zhao

After reforming and opening up, China followed a unique path in capital formation, which is different from the other countries. It is worth looking into how China turned into a capital--‐rich nation in more than 30 years. The characteristics of capital formation in China can be summarized as: (1) The government plays a role in the guidance of capital formation and industrial layout all long. (2) Capital formation depended on domestic capital especially on agricultural surplus, profits of state-­‐owned enterprises and household savings. (3) China takes full advantage of socialist public ownership system to expand state capital formation. (4) In the reform and opening up China makes active use of two resources in domestic market and international market to promote capital formation. (5) China keeps searching for reasonable capital formation mechanism that adapts to the economic system and adjusts capital mechanism to the reform of economic system appropriately.

After reforming and opening up, China followed a unique path in capital formation, which is different from the other countries. It is worth looking into how China turned into a capital--‐rich nation in more than 30 years. The characteristics of capital formation in China can be summarized as: (1) The government plays a role in the guidance of capital formation and industrial layout all long. (2) Capital formation depended on domestic capital especially on agricultural surplus, profits of state-­‐owned enterprises and household savings. (3) China takes full advantage of socialist public ownership system to expand state capital formation. (4) In the reform and opening up China makes active use of two resources in domestic market and international market to promote capital formation. (5) China keeps searching for reasonable capital formation mechanism that adapts to the economic system and adjusts capital mechanism to the reform of economic system appropriately.

An Early Debate on Planned or Market Economy: the Reflection of the 1929 Depression in Republican China

Yongqiang Guan

In 2017, President Trump criticized China as “the revisionist”, an expression similar to Mr. Bannon’s “state-sponsored capitalism”, in contrast to the “liberal democratic free market system”. While Chinese leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, hold different ideas of planned or market economy and capitalism. This paper reveals that, even more than half a century ago, many officials and scholars during republican China already formulated similar ideas. “Planned (or controlled) economy” hardly appeared as title of articles in republican periodicals before 1932, but frequently after that. Most theoretical problems of controlled economy in China had been fiercely debated and solved during 1932 to 1937. The controlled economy thoughts and policies were mostly reflections of the 1929 Depression in Republican China. During these debates, people gradually learned to strip off the ideological label of socialism and capitalism, taking the planning and market policies as instrumental means to overcome the depression and achieve prosperity.

In 2017, President Trump criticized China as “the revisionist”, an expression similar to Mr. Bannon’s “state-sponsored capitalism”, in contrast to the “liberal democratic free market system”. While Chinese leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, hold different ideas of planned or market economy and capitalism. This paper reveals that, even more than half a century ago, many officials and scholars during republican China already formulated similar ideas. “Planned (or controlled) economy” hardly appeared as title of articles in republican periodicals before 1932, but frequently after that. Most theoretical problems of controlled economy in China had been fiercely debated and solved during 1932 to 1937. The controlled economy thoughts and policies were mostly reflections of the 1929 Depression in Republican China. During these debates, people gradually learned to strip off the ideological label of socialism and capitalism, taking the planning and market policies as instrumental means to overcome the depression and achieve prosperity.

Influence Analysis of the _Anti-Five-Evils_ Movement on the Business Operation of Private Importers and Exporters

Yun Qu

Before the movement of “Anti-­‐Five-­‐Evils” since state run foreign trade firms were still not well established the policy measures have to lay stress on utilize private foreign trade dealers in doing business with western countries. But ideologically the private foreign traders was regarded as “capitalist class” and innately distrusted by the new regime. This contradiction resulted in policy waves between “utilize” and “restriction” on private foreign traders. Although business operation was partly recovered after rectify measures were taken after “Anti-­‐Five-­‐Evils”, the lingering fears and uncertainty of future among private foreign traders have a long lasting influence in their business operation and set for the comprehensive realization of socialist transformation.

Before the movement of “Anti-­‐Five-­‐Evils” since state run foreign trade firms were still not well established the policy measures have to lay stress on utilize private foreign trade dealers in doing business with western countries. But ideologically the private foreign traders was regarded as “capitalist class” and innately distrusted by the new regime. This contradiction resulted in policy waves between “utilize” and “restriction” on private foreign traders. Although business operation was partly recovered after rectify measures were taken after “Anti-­‐Five-­‐Evils”, the lingering fears and uncertainty of future among private foreign traders have a long lasting influence in their business operation and set for the comprehensive realization of socialist transformation.

Could Land Reform Have Transformed the Chinese Rural Economy

Li Zhang

In 1928, Land Revolution was first proposed at the Sixth Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress as the central task of the Chinese Communist Revolution, and as an important solution for solving the problem of the poverty and declining economy of the Chinese countryside. After that, some secret CCP members who then worked at the Kuomintang(KMT) academic institutions organized a number of rural surveys, and many secret communist scholars, as well as those who were sympathetic to the communist revolution, published papers arguing the necessity of land reform in China. In practice, the CCP started to implement land reform quickly once it won control over an area from the KMT. Land reform in the regions governed by the CCP strongly boosted local peasants’ support for the CCP, which contributed greatly to the later victory of the Communist Revolution in China. Could land reform have transformed the Chinese rural economy?

In 1928, Land Revolution was first proposed at the Sixth Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress as the central task of the Chinese Communist Revolution, and as an important solution for solving the problem of the poverty and declining economy of the Chinese countryside. After that, some secret CCP members who then worked at the Kuomintang(KMT) academic institutions organized a number of rural surveys, and many secret communist scholars, as well as those who were sympathetic to the communist revolution, published papers arguing the necessity of land reform in China. In practice, the CCP started to implement land reform quickly once it won control over an area from the KMT. Land reform in the regions governed by the CCP strongly boosted local peasants’ support for the CCP, which contributed greatly to the later victory of the Communist Revolution in China. Could land reform have transformed the Chinese rural economy?

Together We Stand Strong: Market Instability, Cooperation and the Value of Social Connections—A case study of modern bank industry in Republic China (abstract)

Lingyu Kong

The modern Chinese banking industry had become the vanguard of growth in the Republic time period (1910-1949), in which property rights and contract enforcement were a luxury. We examine whether one type of inter-banking connections, namely interlocking directorate, contributes to the overall performance of modern Chinese banks by utilizing the social network tools. We find characteristics of banks, which share directors with other banks, are significantly different compared to those of unconnected counterparts. The empirical results elucidate a high positive correlation between bank’s profitability and its connections with rivals through interlocking directors. The outcome provides a reasonable explanation about the success of Chinese banking sector in the 1930s.

The modern Chinese banking industry had become the vanguard of growth in the Republic time period (1910-1949), in which property rights and contract enforcement were a luxury. We examine whether one type of inter-banking connections, namely interlocking directorate, contributes to the overall performance of modern Chinese banks by utilizing the social network tools. We find characteristics of banks, which share directors with other banks, are significantly different compared to those of unconnected counterparts. The empirical results elucidate a high positive correlation between bank’s profitability and its connections with rivals through interlocking directors. The outcome provides a reasonable explanation about the success of Chinese banking sector in the 1930s.