Critical Issues Confronting China Series, Spring 2024 Semester: Economy, Identity, Policy, and More

In the Spring 2024 semester, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies’ Critical Issues Confronting China series hosted a slate of eight leading scholars and journalists. 

The series probed at a wide range of political, economic, and sociocultural subjects: China’s extensive domestic surveillance system; the military threat to Taiwan; the concept of ‘becoming Chinese’ as traced from Imperial China to the present; how regulatory reform could remedy the economic slowdown; how the industrial sector is surging despite the slowdown; China’s financial status in the context of the global financial system; the perils faced by Chinese multinational corporations operating within the U.S.; and the politics behind President Xi Jinping’s three-child policy. Where available, videos have been embedded below.


February 7: Ji Li, John & Marilyn Long Professor of U.S.-China Business and Law, University of California – Irvine, gave a lecture about Chinese multinational corporations and rising U.S.-China geopolitical tensions, followed by a moderated conversation with William C. Kirby, Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, and Mark Wu, Fairbank Center Director and Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.

February 14: Meg Rithmire, F. Warren McFarlan Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, gave a lecture on the challenges facing China’s financial system, followed by a discussion moderated by Daniel Koss, Associate Senior Lecturer on East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University.

February 28: Minxin Pei, Tom and Margot Pritzker ’72 Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow, Claremont McKenna College, discussed China’s sophisticated surveillance system, with a conversation moderated by Mark Wu, Fairbank Center Director and Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law, Harvard Law School. 


March 6: Wang Hui, Changjiang Scholar Professor, Department of Chinese Literature and the Department of History, Tsinghua University, shared insights on China’s transformation from empire to nation-state, followed by a conversation moderated by Peter K. Bol, Charles H Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University. 

March 21: Thomas J. Christensen, James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, discussed the importance of credible assurances alongside credible threats in deterring a PRC military attack on Taiwan during a “Chatham House Rule” talk that looked at differentiating unconditional restrictions on military technology transfer and conditional threats of economic punishment in the U.S.’s China-Taiwan policy.

March 27: Susan Greenhalgh, John King and Wilma Cannon Fairbank Professor of Chinese Society, Emerita, Harvard University, delivered a lecture on the social and political agenda behind China’s Three-Child Policy. The talk was not recorded.


April 3: Angela Huyue Zhang, Associate Professor of Law, University of Hong Kong, addressed China’s economic downturn, the logic and patterns behind China’s regulatory policymaking, and paths toward revival. Professor Zhang was joined by Ya-Wen Lei, Professor of Sociology, Harvard University, in a moderated discussion on regulation and China’s sagging economy.

April 10: Keith Bradsher, Beijing Bureau Chief, The New York Times, capped a semester of talks delivering timely analyses of China’s contemporary moment with a conversation on the strength of China’s industrial sector amid the economic slowdown. The talk was off the record.