Yifu Lin: the mystery of Joseph Needham and the rejuvenation of China

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original title: Yifu Lin: the riddle of Joseph Needham and China's revival

, based on Professor Yifu Lin's speech at the second annual Joseph Needham Memorial Lecture in October 27, 2017 in Cambridge, Joseph Needham, the theme of this speech is "the mystery of Joseph Needham and the revival of China". This article is first translated by Wang Piaoyi and first started in "Cai Xin".

below is the full text of the speech:


I am very pleased to be the speaker of the second lecture of Joseph Needham's annual commemorative lecture. Joseph Needham is my admiration for the scholars to make a speech in his later work, and in his name and Research Institute, discussed an important topic of his career in: "Joseph Needham mystery: why in modern society China science and technology and economic development achievements in the leading position in modern society is so backward" this is a great honor to me. This riddle was raised by him and the focus of his life research. The main purpose of his riddle is to explore the possibility of rejuvenation in China. This riddle has been haunting from my heart since the young age, and this afternoon took advantage of this opportunity to introduce my research to all of you. I will analyze and answer this puzzle from the third edition of development economics, the theoretical framework and perspective of new structural economics, when I was the chief economist of World Bank in 2009.

, according to Joseph Needham's detailed literature, is one of the most advanced countries in the world before modern times. But in the second half of the eighteenth Century, after the industrial revolution broke out in Britain, China was rapidly lagging behind the western countries.

The economic base of

is an important index to measure the strength of the country. According to the research, the economic historian Madison in 1820s, the total economic China still accounted for 1/3 of the total world economy at that time, however, after the rapid decline. When the socialist construction was carried out in 1949, the total economic share accounted for only 4.2% of the world. By 1978, when China began to transform from the planned economy to the market economy, its economic scale rose to only 4.9%.

according to Max Webb's study, China was on the brink of the industrial revolution in 13 and fourteenth Century. Some scholars have found that the development level of science and technology and textile industry in the Song Dynasty is different from the level before the outbreak of the industrial revolution in Britain in eighteenth Century. However, China did not happen in the modern industrial revolution, and the competition A rout is like a landslide. For this reason, Joseph Needham raised a very challenging question: why can China lead the other civilizations ahead of modern times, but cannot maintain its leading position in modern times? The answers to these two questions relate to our judgment of the future of China's future development.

was first raised by Joseph Needham in 1950s. At that time, he could not have foreseen that in the 40 years after the end of 70s, China will shine a new atmosphere. Since the transition to the market economy in 1978, China has become the most rapidly developing country in the world. By last year, China's economy has recovered from 4.9% of the world's GDP to 18.6%, according to the purchasing power parity. It is not a miracle in the history of human economy to continue to grow at such a high speed for such a long time. The nineteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China has just ended. General Secretary Xi Jinping said that now China is closer to achieving the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation than any other period in history.

in this speech, I want to analyze the following questions. 1, why does the industrial revolution have not originated in China? Because it is the starting point of China's defeat in the competition with the West. 2, why can China develop so vigorously after 1978? 3, why do not have the same level of economic performance before 1978? 4, in this period of time, other socialist and non socialist countries have also tried to transform the planned economy from the government to the market economy. Their economy has been collapsing, stagnant and crisis, and China has maintained steady and strong growth. Why do the economic performance of different countries have such a big difference from the planned economy to the market economy? 5, as every coin has two sides, each thing has two sides. What is the price of China for rapid economic growth? 6, is it possible for China to maintain a rapid growth in China in the future to achieve the common concern of Chinese intellectuals and Joseph Needham? The last question is also crucial for the world economy. After the 2008 world economic crisis, China's contribution to world economic growth has reached 1/3 annually. At present, the world economy has not yet fully recovered from the 2008 crisis. It is a good thing for the world to maintain a strong growth in China's economy. If China's economic growth slows down, the world economy will lose the power engine of growth. This will not only be a challenge for China, but also for the whole world. Finally, I will make a brief summary of the lecture.

why didn't the industrial revolution happen in China?

first, we have to know what the "industrial revolution" is. For many people, the industrial revolution means the application of the steam engine, the mechanization of the textile industry and the universality of the use of steel. But, I am

From: 林毅夫:李约瑟之谜和中国的复兴
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