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Sinology in Würzburg

International Conference: Rural China under New Leadership

11th European Conference on Agricultural and Rural Development in China (ECARDC XI): "Rural China under New Leadership"

April 11 through 13, 2013
University of Würzburg, Germany

Some ten years ago important leadership changes at the top of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and state paved the way for far-reaching shifts in policy priorities with regard to rural development. Gradually, significant individual policy initiatives coalesced into a major programme called “Building a New Socialist Countryside”. This policy shift has had enormous impact on diverse fields ranging from governance and public finance through all fields of economic activity to social policy. Under the decade-long administration led by Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao major progress has been achieved in a number of these areas leading to the transformation of rural China. Yet, the consequences of this modernization programme have not all been benign. For instance, rapid urbanization necessitated the conversion of huge swathes of arable land and led to other social and environmental concerns. Significantly, in early 2011 the National Statistical Bureau of China announced that for the first time the share of China’s urban population surpassed that of the rural. Thus, the recent change in top political leadership, in late 2012 and early 2013, provides an excellent opportunity to take stock of these recent developments and analyse them in larger contexts.

Against this backdrop, over sixty experts on rural China from a range of disciplines and many countries convened in Würzburg to attend the 11th European Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development in China (ECARDC XI). Participants hailed from all over Europe, Mainland China, Hong Kong, the United States and Australia. Highlights of the conference included two keynote speeches by renowned specialists:

  • Scott Rozelle, Helen F. Farnsworth Senior Fellow and co-director of the Rural Education Action Programm in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, presented his research in the keynote address “Rural Education, Nutrition and Health in Western China: Sowing the Seeds for China's Future Income Inequality and Instability”.
  • Kevin O'Brien, Alann P. Bedford Professor of Asian Studies & Professor of Political Science, University of Berkley, discussed his long-standing research in his talk on “Rightful Resistance Revisited”.

Panels covered a wide range of topics over three days including the following:

  • Rural Education
  • Property Rights and Sustainability
  • Agents of Change: Strategic Agency in China’s Local State
  • Organizational Change
  • Participation and Inequality
  • Ecology and Environment
  • Markets and Trade
  • Urban-rural Integration
  • Changing Fiscal Arrangements and Intergovernmental Relations Below the Provincial Level
  • Public Goods Provision

The full program can be downloaded here.

Conference report: Uwe Hoering, "Urbanisation with 'Chinese characteristics': Rural-urban integration and the land question" (July 2013)


ECARDC was established in 1989 by concerned European scholars and development practitioners to create a forum for exchanging research findings on agriculture and rural development in China, which was by then rapidly changing on a scale unprecedented in history. With currently over 250 members from China, other Asian countries, the various European Union member states, the USA, Australia and other developed and developing countries, ECARDC can rightfully be termed an influential world scholarly event as well as a major academic community and network focusing on China's development in general, and agricultural and rural development in particular. The next and XIIth ECARDC will be held either in Mainland China or Hong Kong in 2015. For further information please refer to