SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

China’s future: The Politics of Economic Growth and Innovation

The Chinese Economy
Professor Stephen Morgan (Nottingham University Business School)

Date: 16 May 2022Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 16 May 2022Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Senate House Alumni Lecture Theatre (SALT)

Type of Event: Seminar



Party General Secretary and President of China, Xi Jinping, has a dream to “rejuvenate” (fuxing) China, to make China a strong and wealthy country (fuqiang guo) by 2049, the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Is that an achievable goal? Drawing on his recent book The Chinese Economy (Agenda Publishing/Columbia UP, 2021), Professor Stephen Morgan argues China will fall well short of this dream. The book can be read as an economic history of the reform period, 1979-2018, but locating the analysis in the long arc of China’s economic history from the late Ming Dynasty through the present to imagine the future. The primary focus of the seminar will be on a major theme of the book, China’s quest to develop an innovative economy, which is essential to sustain growth in the next few decades. Without innovation that can allow China to close the gap with the “frontier” advanced economies, growth in productivity will falter and with that the capacity of the economy to increase living standards and address the big challenges of an ageing population and shrinking workforce, reducing energy consumption, and achieving sustainable growth. In short, it will fail to become an advanced economy. Although China of the eastern seaboard can strike many visitors as an advanced economy, with sophisticated urban economies linked by highspeed trains and excellent expressways, large parts of the country resemble lower-middle or low-income economies. China has a long way to go still to catch up, which is not so much an economic problem as a political one.

About the speaker

Stephen Morgan is Professor of Chinese Economic History in the Nottingham University Business School. He joined the University of Nottingham in 2007, originally in the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, after 14 years at the University of Melbourne where he was Senior Lecturer in Asian Economic History in the Department of Management, the Faculty of Economics and Commerce. Between 2013 and 2020, he was seconded to the Nottingham’s China campus at Ningbo where he was Dean of Social Sciences (2013-16), Associate Provost for Planning (2016-18) and the Executive Director of the Nottingham China Health Institute (2018-20). Prof Morgan’s research is focused on China’s economy from the eighteenth century to the present. He has published in economic and business history, international business and strategy, health and human welfare, and media, politics and society, with articles in the Australian Economic History Review, Business History, the China Journal, The China Quarterly, Economics and Human Biology, Explorations in Economic History, and the World Economy, among others. In an earlier career, he was a journalist and editor for newspapers and news magazine in Australia and Asia, and first visited China first as a reporter in January 1981. He was educated at Monash University, the Beijing Languages Institute, Nanjing University, the University of Hong Kong and the Australian National University.


This event is open to the public and free to attend, however registration is required. Click here to register

Please note that this seminar is taking place on campus and will not be recorded or live-streamed.

Chair: Professor Steve Tsang (Director, SOAS China Institute)

Contact email: