China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The history of China's transition from a planned economy to a market economy, as commemorated recently in the fortieth anniversary of reform and opening-up, often focuses on central and top-down policy. This panel explores the bottom-up experience of the reform-era transition by focusing on a variety of actors in South China and Hong Kong: officials and ordinary people and the use of ration coupons in Guangzhou, the architects and financers of iconic buildings in Shenzhen, the overseas investors who built factories in Dongguan, and the Hong Kong author Leung Fung-Yee and her mainland readers. Together the papers show how individuals took advantage of past and present systems, created new urban environments, initiated the practices of the market economy, and understood their role in the reform era.
Examining the markets of Guangzhou, Michelle Chang demonstrates how planners introduced incentives in agriculture and industry, and how residents and entrepreneurs took advantage of a mixed economy, together creating instability and opportunity. Andrew Liu traces the investment of overseas Chinese from Hong Kong through Shenzhen to cities like Dongguan, highlighting the role of family networks in early reform-era manufacturing. Cole Roskam takes the analysis of the Special Economic Zone to the level of the building, examining Shenzhen's first reform-era buildings to illuminate the role of Hong Kong in building and finance. Finally, to understand how entrepreneurial subjectivity was created in the post-Mao era, Zhang Yu studies the production, reception, and readership of Leung Fung-Yee's "finance novels" from Hong Kong to mainland China.