The evolution of reform-era Chinese industrial policy debates (1979 - 2023)

30  April 2024    2:00 pm CEST

Delve into the evolution of China's industrial policy discourse from 1979 to 2023 in a seminar led by Lucas Erlbacher.


wiiw Library 2nd floor, Rahlgasse 3, 1060 Vienna, Austria


Since the mid-2000s the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has undergone a rapid expansion of its industrial policy toolkit (Heilmann & Shih, 2013; Naughton, 2021). With that industrial policy has not only moved to the center of the PRC’s economic governance but also become the main focal point of economic discussions in China. Similarly, the increasing awareness vis-à-vis the strengthening of the PRC’s industrial policy effort as well as more general competitive pressure by Chinese industrial groups have participated in the ‘return’ or ‘rebirth’ of industrial policy within developing countries (Aiginger & Rodrik, 2020; Eder & Schneider, 2020). While major industrial policy strategies, such as the Medium- and Long-Term Program of Science and Technology (2006), the Strategic Emerging Industries Program (2010) and Made in China 2025 (2015), have widely received attention outside of the PRC, the underlying discussions between Chinese economists and economic policy brokers have largely been overlooked. This is in particular the case for post-GFC domestic discussion on the reform of the country’s industrial policy approach. This seminar will present preliminary research findings on the Chinese economic discussions surrounding industrial policy during the country’s reform-era (1978 - now). In particular, recent debates on the reevaluation of the country’s industrial policy approach and different calls for reform will be discussed. In particular, the mid-2010s have seen the establishment of an influential reform coalition structured around the consensus for a shift towards a more functional-/horizontal industrial policy approach.



Lucas Erlbacher is a PhD candidate in Economics at the School of Business and Economics of the Freie Universität Berlin and the Graduate School of East Asian Studies (GEAS). His doctoral research focuses on reform-era Chinese economic thought (1978 - now). For this he has been awarded the Elsa-Neumann Scholarship for doctoral researchers by the Berlin State. In addition, he has previously received a pre-doc grant from the DFG-funded project ‘SFB 294 Strukturwandel des Eigentums’ for which he is currently a research fellow. Lastly, he holds a BA in Business, Economics and Social Sciences (Major: Economics) from the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien and a MA in Economics from FU Berlin.

Beyond this, Lucas Erlbacher has since 2020 been an associate fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES) for which he has undertaken several research projects on Austria-China relations. In this capacity, he is representing Austria in the European Think-Tank Network on China (ETNC), which brings together China researchers from leading European institutes. In addition, since 2023 he has worked as an analyst for China Macro Group (CMG) on EU-China related projects.


Zuzana Zavarská is an Economist at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw).

The presentation will be in English.
Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.