For more than thirty years, Wu Jinglian has been widely regarded as China’s most celebrated and influential economist. In the late 1970s, Wu (b. 1930) was one of a small group of economic thinkers who broke with Marxist concepts and learned the principles of a market economy. Since then he has been at the center of economic reform in China, moving seamlessly as an “insider outsider” between academic and policy roles. In recent years, Wu has emerged as a prominent public intellectual fighting not just for market reform but also for a democratic society backed by the rule of law. This book presents many of Wu’s most important writings, a number of them appearing in English for the first time. Each section offers an informative introductory essay by Barry Naughton, the volume’s editor and an expert on China’s economy.
The book begins with Wu’s most recent articles, which make clear his belief that gradual marketization combined with institutional development will make Chinese society fairer and less corrupt. Biographical writings follow, accompanied by a richly insightful text by Naughton on Wu’s life and career. Writings from the 1980s and 1990s, written originally for a small audience of policy makers, demonstrate how Wu shaped China’s early reform path; essays and articles from the late 1990s and early 2000s reflect Wu’s new role as an advocate for broader reforms. Taken together, these texts map not only China’s path to economic reform but also Wu’s own intellectual evolution.
About the Editor
Barry Naughton is Professor of Chinese Economy and Sokwanlok Chair of Chinese International Affairs at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Growing Out of the Plan: Chinese Economic Reform, 1978-1993.
“Almost every page of this book is insightful on Chinese economics or politics or usually both together.”—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
“Decades from now, future generations will look back at the turn of the twenty-first century and ask how China moved away from the socialist planned economy system and engineered one of the most spectacular stories of economic growth in human history. There will be no shortage of books devoted to analyzing these processes. In relative—if not total—shortage will be stories told by the actors who played major roles in this historical transformation. This rare and valuable volume, based on writings and stories of one of China’s most influential economists and public intellectuals, Wu Jinglian, will serve that important function. It provides materials from a unique angle for contemporary readers to appreciate and understand the processes of China’s reforms.”
—Wang Feng, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Non-resident Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
“Wu Jinglian has long been a critical figure in the Chinese reform process, at once an intellectual mastermind behind several key policies and a trenchant observer of the process as a whole. To the best of my knowledge, this book represents the first comprehensive English—language presentation of Professor Wu's writings. Moreover those writings are coupled with insightful commentary by Barry Naughton, one of the world's foremost experts on the Chinese economy. This volume offers a crucial window onto the intellectual foundations of China's ongoing economic transformation.”
—Edward Steinfeld, Professor of Political Economy, MIT, and co-director of the China Energy Group in the MIT Industrial Performance Center
“Naughton’s focus on Wu Jinglian, whom he rightly identifies as a key contributor to the lengthy gestation of China’s reform and marketization, is both attractive and timely. Naughton gives the reader a sense of the entire milieu in which debate and, eventually, Chinese reform occurred, as well as highlighting the issues and some of the personalities involved.”
—Thomas G. Rawski, Professor of Economics and History, University of Pittsburgh