Institutional Dynamics and the Great Transformation of China

Date: 14-15 April, 2009

The inaugural Wellington Conference on Contemporary China is held in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city to examine the role of institutions in China’s great transformation.

Over the past thirty years since the launch of economic reform and opening in December 1978, China has seen fundamental economic transformation and unprecedented social and political changes. The grand scale and contested nature of the transformation has generated great scholarly interest. Of particular scholarly value is the growing interest in the role of institutions in the shaping of the new economy, new politics and new society of China.

Today, few scholars would dispute that institutions matter. The question is perhaps how exactly they matter in particular national and historical settings. Moreover, institutional analysis is increasingly facing challenges from diverse national experiences and institutional environments. On the other hand, there are a large number of studies on China's transformation, but not many from a unifying intellectual approach involving a multi-disciplinary investigation. There is also a great deal of scholarly interest and research activities in China itself on institutions and Chinese political economy, but this has not received the wider scholarly attention it deserves.

The conference was designed to address these issues. It brought institutional analysis and China studies together to address some of the core questions interesting to both China scholars and those of institutional theory. The conference is pleased to have Professor Qiang Li of Peking University, Professor Keun Lee of Seoul National University, Professor Weisen Li of Fudan University, Professor Yongnian Zheng of National University of Singapore, Professor Hong Sheng of the Unirule Institute of Economics (Beijing), Professor Fei-ling Wang of Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor Xiao Ren of Fudan University to lead the panels. Professor Harry Harding of George Washington University will deliver the keynote address at the conference. The panels will deal with institutional issues in economic, legal, political and social development in China and China’s international relations, with case studies on more specific issues such as property rights, the hukou system, the danwei system, the dual-track system, politics and markets, constitutional order, party and electoral systems, international organizations, and rules and norms.

This international conference was sponsored and organised by the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre.

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