Professor Justin Yifu Lin is the first Chinese of his generation who received a Ph.D in economics from the University of Chicago and chose to work and teach in China in 1987. The year of 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of Professor Justin Yifu Lin’s returning and teaching in the Chinese mainland.
On May 12-13, 2017, a ceremonious commemorative symposium was held at Peking University in his honor. Over 400 representatives from the academia, governments, policy research institutes and industries convened to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the legendary professor and economist, who has been riding the tide of history and earned a multitude of honors under his belt, including the first person from a developing country to serve as the Chief Economist of the World Bank.
Professor Justin Yifu Lin
The two-day symposium, jointly organized by the National School of Development and Center for New Structural Economics, featured keynote speeches, panel discussions and 33 academic paper presentations on Professor Lin’s contributions to economic research and education, policy advisory, and most importantly, his independent theoretical innovation—New Structural Economics.
Professor Hao Ping, Secretary of the Peking University Party Committee; Professor Yao Yang, Dean of the National School of Development of Peking University; Chen Xiwen, Vice Chairman of the Committee of Economic Affairs, CPPCC National Committee; Professor Cai Fang, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; and Professor Leonard K Cheng, President of Lingnan University, addressed the opening ceremony, hosted by Professor Hu Dayuan, Secretary of the National School of Development Party Committee.
Professor Hao Ping, Secretary of the Peking University Party Committee
Professor Hao Ping pointed out that Lin had made critical contributions to the localization, standardization, and internationalization of the economic research in China by founding the China Center for Economic Research in 1994, which later became the National School of Development of Peking University.
“Professor Lin is rightly aware that mainstream Western economic theories have failed to fully explain China’s economic and social phenomena,” he remarked. “Therefore, he proposed and advocated New Structural Economics based on the development experience of China and substantially enhanced the international influence of Chinese scholars.”
Professor Cai Fang, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Chen Xiwen, Vice Chairman of the Committee of Economic Affairs, CPPCC National Committee
Professor Yao Yang, Dean of the National School of Development of Peking University
Professor Leonard K Cheng, President of Lingnan University
Professor Justin Yifu Lin delivered a keynote speech on the development and innovation of economic theories in China. He emphasized the three sources of the theoretical innovations in the discipline of economics: the phenomena and experience from China, the fundamental principles of Marxist historical materialism of the economic base determining the superstructure and the superstructure shaping the economic base, and the methodologies and approaches of modern economics.
Lin highlighted the motto of the Center for New Structural Economics, which he founded in December 2015—knowing and achieving being one. He pointed out that social scientists should uphold the belief that “only the knowledge that helps people achieve its commitment is truly useful knowledge”.
“As the fastest developing economy, China is well positioned to provide the world with a set of innovative theories by tapping into the development experience of China and other developing countries, in an effort to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, as well as help other developing countries realize industrialization and modernization”, he added.
Professor Zhou Qiren
Professor Zhou Qiren, former Dean of the National School of Development of Peking University and Lin’s 35-year acquaintance commented: “Professor Lin believes that there lies a spark of seriousness in any least serious person; as long as you are resolute and persistent to kindle it, the spark will become a prairie fire and spread to the entire world”.
Zhou’s comments resonate with the well-known quotation from The Analects by Confucius, which has been one of the most widely read and studied books in China for the past 2,000 years and nurtured Lin since his childhood: To be called a scholar, you must be open-minded as well as resolute, since your burden is heavy and your course is long.