Innovation and its challenges: Reflections on a century of reform and resistance in Chinese Governance
Professor John Fitzgerald
Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy, Swinburne University
Chaired by Professor Christine Wong
Venue: St-219 Theatre, Queensberry Street, University of Melbourne
Date: Thursday 7 August 2014
Time: 5.30pm to 7.00pm
What insights can we derive from a century-long perspective on the challenges of governance in China today? In any state that has undergone a revolution there are elements of state making and constitutional thinking that survive the revolution. So it was in China before and after its 20th century revolutions. The governing institutions through which the Communist Party rules today were initially designed to solve the kinds of problems that bring down old world empires – including institutional deficits in rural settlements, revenue shortfalls at the central level of government, and elite capture of local government office – which undermined the Qing and weakened the Republican state. Today, China’s modern market economy and urban society present a different array of challenges for territorial government from those that brought down the empire. The imperative to capture local revenues which underlay the continuous agenda of the pre-and post-revolutionary state no longer applies; local officials have captured social and economic power; and loyal cadres are not as a rule accustomed to seeing themselves as servants of the public welfare, building public goods and delivering social services.
John Fitzgerald joined Swinburne University in 2013 as Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy after serving for five years as China Representative of The Ford Foundation in Beijing where he directed the Foundation’s operations in China. Before that, he was Head of the School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University and, before that again, Director of the International Centre of Excellence in Asia-Pacific Studies at the Australian National University. His book, Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia (UNSW 2007) was a finalist in the Prime Minister’s History Prize in 2008 and awarded the Ernest Scott Prize of the Australian Historical Association that year. His publications have also won international recognition, including the Joseph Levenson Prize of the American Association for Asian Studies. He has a PhD from ANU and held a Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a graduate of Sydney University.
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