China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: Since the 1980s, China has envisioned science as a driver of economic growth, panacea of social problems, and source of state legitimacy. While entrepreneurs, scientists, and party officials strive to build a prosperous, stable, and independent China by harnessing science and technology and linking it to the market in ever-tighter configurations, this endeavor is perpetually fraught with tensions, resistances, and unintended consequences. This panel probes the evolution of the science-market-state nexus from the early market reforms to today. Jiang opens by demonstrating how pressures to marketize science in the 1980s transformed goldfish breeding from a traditional craft to a biotech-driven, export-oriented industry, and how these transitions were contested. Next, Zeng leverages new archives from Beijing Jeep and Tsingtao Brewery to illustrate how businesspeople’s pursuit of scientific knowledge, technological competitiveness, and capital beyond China’s borders shaped the future of US-China relations and the global economic order. Moving to the contemporary era, Greenhalgh uncovers the interlocking ties among the Chinese party-state, industry, and global scientific nonprofits, exposing the clandestine involvement of multinational corporations in China’s “scientific policy-making,” and the hidden dangers to China’s people. Finally, Coplin reveals how techno-nationalism in China’s biotechnology industries fosters symbiotic firm-local government alliances, strengthening companies’ technological development and the state’s governance capacity, but hindering firms’ international expansion and endangering the legitimacy of state and industry alike. Collectively, we expose how the entanglement of science and market in China has rearranged the connections among science, society, industry, and the state, and reconfigured the boundaries between national and global.
Paper Presenter: Abigail Coplin – Vassar College
Paper Presenter: Susan Greenhalgh – Harvard University
Paper Presenter: Zhaojin Zeng – Duke Kunshan University
Paper Presenter: Lijing Jiang – Colby College