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Inviting Europe to Reform China?

Friday 13 December 2013, Cambridge University
Keynote Speaker: Professor Arne Westad; Dinner Speaker: Sir Christopher Hum

Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power in 1978 has often been celebrated as the advent of China’s economic and political rise. While Mao Zedong had started to initiate contacts with the West (most famously with Nixon in 1972), it was Deng who pursued a systemic plan to bring China out of the hermetic decline that resulted from years of economic and political stagnation brought about by the Cultural Revolution. While much scholarly attention has been dedicated to China’s interaction with the United States and Asian countries in the 1970s and 1980s, no authoritative study exists on Beijing’s interaction with European states. This seems to be a curious anamoly since Beijing also engaged with European states on either side of the Iron Curtain in the Reform and Opening era. But what were the mutual motivations in seeking a speedy post-Mao rapprochement?

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Preliminary Programme

8.30 Registration

9.00      Opening Remarks

9.15-10.30: Keynote address: Odd Arne Westad (LSE): Mirrors of Socialism: China, Eastern Europe and the Struggle for Reform

10.30-10.45: Coffee break

10.45-12.15: Panel 1: Sino-European relations in a global perspective; Chair: David Reynolds (Cambridge)

  • Bernd Schaefer (Cold War International History Project), GDR, FRG and China between 1968 and the early 1980s
  • Vladislav Zubok (LSE): The USSR and China during the 1980s  

12.15-13.00 Lunch

13.00-14.45: Panel 2: Western Europe and Chinese reforms; Chair: Anne Deighton (Oxford)

  • Martin Albers (Cambridge): A Comparison of French and German Policies towards the PRC, 1978-1982
  • Chi-Kwan Mark (Royal Holloway, London): To ‘Educate’ Deng Xiaoping in Capitalism: Thatcher’s Visit to China and the Future of Hong Kong in 1982
  • Enrico Fardella; (Peking University): Sino-Italian Relations during the Final Stages of the Cold War  

14.45 - 16.25 Panel 3: Reaffirming socialist solidarity? Eastern Europe and the Chinese reforms; Chair: Kristina Spohr (LSE)

  • Malgorzata Gnoinska (Troy University): Domestic Changes in China and Turmoil in Poland: the Effects on Sino-Polish Relations, 1976-1983
  • Zhong Zhong Chen (LSE): The crisis of 1989 in Beijing and Berlin  
  • Peter Vamos (Hungarian Academy of Sciences): Adopting the Hungarian Model for China?

16.25-16.40: Coffee break

16.40-18.00: Panel 4: The Chinese perspective; Chair: Hans van de Ven (Cambridge)

  • Niu Jun (Peking University): From 'Fox' to friend - China's relations with five Eastern European 'fraternal states' during the 1980s
  • Chen Jian (Cornell University): After Czechoslovakia: China's Changing Policies toward East Europe in the 'Long 1970s'

18.00-18.15: Closing remarks

19.30: Conference Dinner at Trinity Hall College