Accountability and control in the Xi Jinping era

umelb_logo2015 Melbourne Conference on China, August 21-22, 2015
Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Melbourne

Closing date for submissions: 12 December 2014

The Chinese leadership is confronted with a very different set of challenges to those that provoked its predecessors a generation ago to embark on a program of market-oriented reforms. China then was a poor but relatively well-educated and egalitarian country, with an abundance of surplus labour in the agricultural sector and very little interaction with the global market. Now, China is an upper-middle income country with shortages of manual labour that dominates the global supply of low to mid-end manufactured goods and global demand for most commodities. While a series of measures to increase the scope of the market in the Chinese domestic economy and facilitate the transfer of labour from agriculture to industry were successful in lifting China out of the low-level equilibrium trap, a similar set of policy measures will not lift China over the middle-income hurdle. The major constraints to the economic development of China today—a tight labour market especially for unskilled and manual workers, social and ethnic conflict, financial imbalances and a range of environmental problems—require targeted solutions supported by sophisticated systems of accountability and mechanisms of control.

The Xi administration has acknowledged that a major shift is required by announcing the dawn of a new era of ‘comprehensively deepening reforms’, in contrast to the era of ‘opening up and reforms’ that preceded it. Despite the loud rhetoric, many questions remain about the character of public policy in this new era.
The 2015 Melbourne Conference on China, for the first time organised by the newly inaugurated Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Melbourne, provides a timely occasion to weigh up the state of the reform process in the Xi Jinping era. The purpose of this conference is to discuss the policy measures required to lift China over the middle-income hurdle, and whether the Xi administration has the will and institutional infrastructure to implement such measures.

We invite submissions of interest for individual papers that address, directly or indirectly, the following areas of contemporary Chinese public policy in economic, social or political contexts:

• China’s path of development
• Law, legal system, legal culture
• Organisation of the Party and the bureaucracy
• Regulating the public and private economies
• Environmental concerns
• Financial and fiscal systems
• Social welfare reform
• Central-local relations
• Population policy

Please send an abstract of 500 words for your proposed paper to by 12 December 2014. A conference fee of $60 will be charged to cover the cost of teas and lunch. Limited financial support for travel and accommodation will be available to select participants.