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China and Global Development Seminar Series

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Institute for China and Global Development

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presents

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China and Europe in the Hall of Mirrors
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by Professor R. Bin Wong

University of California Los Angeles

 

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November 15, 2011 (Tuesday)

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

 

Room 910, KKL Building

The University of Hong Kong

Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong

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Remarks:  Non-HKU staff/students who are interested in attending this seminar, please register with Ms. Angelina Hung by sending your full name, affiliation and contact details to info@hiebs.hku.hk.  For enquiries, please call 2547 8472. 

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Abstract

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His recent book argues that the distinctive patterns of economic change in China and Europe can be reduced to the consequences of differences in political scale. Both China and Europe experienced long periods of unification and fragmentation, empire was the norm in China, while division prevailed more often in Europe. For much of Europe's history, it was poor because it was at war. The rise of capital-intensive methods of production in Europe was the unintended consequence of persistent political strife. In contrast, China, which was often peaceful and unified, developed large-scale markets and took advantage of the division of labor. It was only after 1750 that the advantages of machine-based, capital-intensive methods of production became apparent. Before that time the recipes for growth of the Qing emperors were commonsense everywhere: promote the expansion of agriculture, keep taxes low, and do not interfere with internal commerce.

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About the Speaker  

Professor R. Bin Wong is Director of the UCLA Asia Institute and Professor of History.  His research has examined Chinese patterns of political, economic and social change, especially since eighteenth century, both within Asian regional contexts and compared with more familiar European patterns.  Among his books, China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience (Cornell University Press, 1997) also appears in Chinese.  His latest book, co-authored with Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, Before and Beyond Divergence: The Politics of Economic Change in China and Europe (Harvard University Press 2011) is also expected to appear in Chinese and French.   Professor Wong has also written or co-authored more than seventy articles published in Chinese, English, French, German and Japanese in journals that reach diverse audiences within and beyond academia.  His scholarly articles include  "Entre monde et nation :Les regions Braudelienne en Asie¡¨ in Annales HSS, (56.1 (jan-fev 2001): 5-42); ¡§The Search for European Differences and Domination in the Early Modern World: A View from Asia,¡¨ American Historical Review, (107.2 (April 2002): 447-69).  More popular essays appear in the Nihon keizai shimbun (Japan Economic Times) the Economic and Political Weekly (Bombay, India).    A ten-page interview with him appears in the August 2004 issue of Shehui kexue (Social Sciences).  In addition to his positions at UCLA, he is Distinguished Guest Professor at the Fudan Institute for Advanced Study in Social Sciences.

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