No. 16 Brownbag: Prosperity in Chaos
Published:2018-09-27 Visits:

No. 16 Brownbag


Topic:  Prosperity in Chaos : Chamber of Commerce, Institution and “Capitalism” in Republican China (1912-1937)

Speaker:  Zhai Runzhuo , PhD student in economic history at Keble College, Oxford University

Host:  Yexin Zhou , Associate Professor of the School of Economics and Resource Management, BNU

Time:  12:00-13:30pm, September. 18th, 2018

Venue:  Rm 1726, Hou-Zhu-Lou, Beijing Normal University


Introduction of speaker

Zhai Runzhuo, a PhD student in economic history at Keble College, Oxford University. He is now studying under Professor Stephen Broadberry, the current president of the Economic History Society. His main research areas cover Cliometrics, China's long-term economic performance and vicissitude, and the accounting of historical living standards. He has participated in the “International Annual Conference on Quantitative History" and has served as the paper review guest of the 5th International Annual Conference on Quantitative History. Now, he is also a visiting researcher at the Center of Chinese Entrepreneur studies, Tsinghua University.



Republican China is an era with frequent wars, political anarchy and natural disasters. However, it is also an age with moderate economic growth and gradual modernization, which seems inconsistent with the traditional economic theory and wisdoms. Why could the economy obtain stable development during this chaotic period, especially the so-called “capitalism” sectors (industry and finance)? To solve the puzzle, this paper evaluates the mainstream explanations. It finds that in addition to the traditional views (trade or railway), channel from the perspective of institutions is quite crucial, and the birth of the Chamber of Commerce and the rise of commercial class played an important role in the growth of “capitalism”. The Chamber as an organization of the commercial class, developed into a quasi-autonomy political group during the chaotic era, offsetting the loss of formal institution. Apart from the historical analysis, this paper also makes the tests with quantitative methods based on uniquely constructed datasets in Republican China.


How to sign up?

The CIID Lunch Seminar provides lunch for all signed up participants. Regulations are as follows:

1.  To sign up, scan the QR code below and follow the CIID official account. Leave a message as “No.20 LS-(Name)-(Department)” in our public platform. You will receive a Chinese reply “报名成功”if you are successfully signed up.


2. If you’ve already signed up but could NOT attend, please leave a massage as “Cancel-(Name)-(Department)” to avoid food waste.

3.  The deadline for sign-up and cancelation is 3 hours before the seminar (9:00 a.m.).

4.  Lunch will start 15 minutes before the seminar and will be provided according to the sign-up list.


China Institute of Innovation and Development, BNU

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