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Research Seminar Series

Developing China

In 2012-2013 the Lau China Institute will run a series of research seminars on the theme of 'Developing China'.

Time: Wednesdays 4-6pm (NB there will not be a seminar every week; please check the schedule below for details)

Venue: Room S3.30 (Strand Building, Strand Campus) for all seminars in Semester Two.

All are welcome.


16 January, 4-6pm           


High sex ratios in China: the causes and consequences 

The high sex ratio in China is caused by son preference, low fertility and easy access to sex selective abortion. In parts of rural China there are 140 male births for every 100 female, resulting in very large numbers of unmarriageable men. Preferential out-migration of rural women exacerbates the problem with extremely high sex ratios in the reproductive age group in some inland provinces. Concerns about the consequences of excess men centre around the propensity to aggression and violence of these men with the risk of increased crime and anti-social behaviour. But our own research has shown that these men are marginalised, lonely, withdrawn and prone to psychological problems. Measures to reduce the sex ratio should include enforcement of the existing legislation on sex-selection, and public awareness campaigns about the dangers of late abortion and gender imbalance.

6 February, 4-6pm (Cancelled)            

DR JING GU, Institute of Development Studies

13 February, 4-6pm

PROF GERALD CHAN, University of Auckland

Chiang Mai Initiative faces global financial crisis: China between regional and global acts

The Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI), set up by the ASEAN ten countries plus China, Japan and South Korea, aims to tackle their liquidity problems subsequent to the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98. The global financial crisis that started in 2008 has heightened the role played by the CMI in Asia. As the second largest economy in the world and its second largest trading nation, China has a high stake in ensuring that this regional body would work properly. In this seminar I will identify the challenges that China faces in this respect and assess its responses. I would argue that, contrary to the commonly held belief that China is a hardened realist, the country adopts a rather liberal, functional approach to building up the economic wellbeing of the region, in line with its claim of striving to achieve a win-win solution for common problems. I will explain why this is the case and will examine China’s balancing between its regional and global acts.

27 February, 4-6pm         

DR HEATHER ZHANG, University of Leeds

Labour Market, Welfare Reforms and Poverty Dynamics in Urban China

This research employs qualitative longitudinal research methodology and a dynamic approach to the study of poverty and welfare reforms in urban China. It addresses a neglected aspect of urban poverty studies in China, namely the risk and process of falling into poverty, and the possibility of escaping it for individuals and families. Examining the poverty trajectories of seven poor families in Tianjin, who received the means-tested social assistance scheme known as the Minimum Living Standard Guarantee allowance (dibao) over a period of six years between 2002-2008, the research seeks to identify some of the institutional factors contributing to the dynamics, in particular employment and welfare policies. The paper also seeks to deepen our understanding of the relationship between institutional change, urban poverty and public policy interventions, and explore their implications for social mobility in contemporary Chinese society. Ultimately it aims to contribute to a growing body of research, and academic and policy debates in the field in China and beyond.


3 October, 4-6pm

DR MANMAN GUO, Communication University of China, visiting scholar at Goldsmiths, University of London

Image and Branding of China’s TV Media

With rapid development of China’s economy, the media industry in China is booming. TV stations, television channels and TV strands or programmes have come into the general trend of brand competition. The presentation will give an overview of TV media development in China followed by more recent TV media images. Then it will draw on TV identity system framework to analyze the images and branding development process by using different cases. It will also discuss the impact of economic and cultural elements in the process and future development of TV media image and branding in China. The presentation will be complemented with selected video clips.

17 October, 4-6pm

DR REZA HASMATH, University of Oxford

Isomorphic Pressures, Epistemic Communities and State-NGO Collaboration in China

This paper suggests that a lack of meaningful collaboration between the state and NGOs in China is not necessarily a result of a state that is seeking to restrict the development of the sector, or a fear of a potential opposing actor to the state. Instead, interviews with NGOs in Beijing and Shanghai suggest that a lack of meaningful collaboration between the state and NGOs can be partially attributed to isomorphic pressures within state-NGO relations, and insufficient epistemic awareness of NGO activities and their utility on the part of the state. In fact, the evidence suggests that once epistemic awareness is achieved by the state, they will have a stronger desire to work with NGOs - with the caveat that the state will seek to utilise the material power of NGOs rather than their symbolic, interpretive or geographical capital.

31 October, 4-6pm

DR DEREK HIRD, University of Westminster

Men, Masculinities and Intimate Partner Violence in China

Men’s violence towards intimate partners has been hotly debated in China recently, due in no small part to the furore caused when Kim Lee—the American wife of Li Yang, the founder of Crazy English, a nationally renowned chain of English language schools in China—posted photographs online of her bruised and battered face, the result of Li’s violence towards her, which he has publicly admitted. This incident and the ensuing widespread discussion has concentrated attention on the need for a new law on domestic violence, but urgent questions still need to be asked about the relationship between masculinities and violence in China, so that Li Yang’s violence can be understood in the broader perspective of cultures of masculinities and not simply as the senseless behaviour of a disturbed individual. To this end, this paper seeks to examine the interrelationships between men’s violence towards intimate female partners and conceptions of masculinity in China. It analyses popular ideas about masculinity and violence in interviews and media reports, through an approach informed by gender, masculinities and transnational theories. It aims to show how notions of Chinese masculinities inform and are reflected in discussions about domestic violence, and argues that Chinese masculinities are transcultural constructions constituted in fluid, heterogeneous constellations of global, regional and locally situated elements. 

14 November, 4-6pm

PROFESSOR IAN TAYLOR, University of St Andrews

Conflict or Co-operation: Africa and Sino-American Relations?

The rising energy needs of both China and the USA are well-known, as is Africa's emergence as a central space where oil companies from both countries are busy enlarging their holdings and commercial interests. This has generated a flurry of analysis that claims that these developments will lead to tension, possibly even conflict, in the future. Much of this is predicated on the argument that American interests are being compromised by Chinese activities and that claimed core US interests such as the promotion of democracy, good governance and so on are being undermined. This paper will critically interrogate such claims and argue that co-operation, or at least grudging acceptance of each other's presence, is far more likely than any notional conflict.

21 November, 4-6pm

DR JAN KNOERICH, University of Oxford

The rise of Chinese outward foreign direct investment in the European Union

This paper examines the rise of Chinese outward foreign direct investment (FDI) in European Union (EU) member states over the past 10 years. Chinese FDI in the EU is an unusual phenomenon because it constitutes an investment flow from an emerging or developing economy to more advanced, mature economies. The key question concerns the specific competitive advantages of Chinese firms that make investments in the EU feasible. In addition, the paper will also consider the possibility that Chinese firms invest in the EU in order to source competitive advantages. Case studies of Chinese acquisitions of German companies in the machinery and equipment industry illustrate that innovative strategic approaches and new cooperative arrangements between Chinese and EU firms will be important to assure success of Chinese investment projects in advanced economies. 

28 November, 4-6pm

DR GERDA WIELANDER, University of Westminster

Christian Love, Faith and the CCP

The paper investigates the importance of Christian thought in the evolving formation of political ideology in contemporary China. It questions the entrenched paradigms that Christianity is a foreign religion; that the majority of house churches are in opposition to the state; and that the CCP is an atheist party, or rather a party of atheists. A re-evaluation of Christianity has been going on in China for a number of years. Through a process of competition, adaptation, co-operation – as well as conflict – Christian thought has become an integral part of the contemporary Chinese philosophical and ideological landscape and Christians form a powerful new social network, which at times overlaps with existing networks of power. Rather than approaching the astonishing growth of Christianity in China as a religious phenomenon, this paper proposes it as a case study for the process of political ideology formation in contemporary China. 

5 December, 4-6pm

DR TOBY LINCOLN, University of Leicester

Building China in War and Peace: Wuxi County 1911-1945

The first half of the twentieth century saw China embark on a process of modern state formation, accompanied by radical social change. Focusing on Wuxi county, this paper explores how initially industrialists and then after 1927 local officials constructed the physical spaces that defined people's lives. This gave rise to a new regional identity, one that redefined the relationship between the city and the countryside, while connecting the local to the centre. Despite one of the most devastating invasions of the twentieth century, this was then renewed during the period of Japanese occupation.

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