skip to primary navigationskip to content

Inviting Europe

13 December 2013 at the Alison Richard Building, University of Cambridge

Inviting Europe to reform China? – Socialism, Capitalism and Sino-European Relations in the Deng Xiaoping Era, 1978-1992

 Inviting Europe banner


Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power in 1978 has often been celebrated as the advent of China’s economic and political rise. While Mao Zedong had started to initiate contacts with the West (most famously with Nixon in 1972), it was Deng who pursued a systemic plan to bring China out of the hermetic decline that resulted from years of economic and political stagnation brought about by the Cultural Revolution. Though much scholarly attention has been dedicated to China’s interaction with the United States and Asian countries in the 1970s and 1980s, no authoritative study exists on Beijing’s interaction with European states. This seems to be a curious anomaly since Beijing also engaged with European states on either side of the Iron Curtain in the Reform and Opening era. This conference was intended to help us to better understand a crucial chapter in international history as well as the basis for current Sino-European relations in the areas of politics, trade, and culture.

Preliminary Programme

 8.30      Registration

9.00      Opening Remarks

9.15-10.30: Keynote address: Odd Arne Westad (LSE): Mirrors of Socialism: China, Eastern Europe and the Struggle for Reform

10.30-10.45: Coffee break

10.45-12.15: Panel 1: Sino-European relations in a global perspective; Chair: David Reynolds (Cambridge)

  • Bernd Schaefer (Cold War International History Project), Divided Nations, Global Politics: the two Germanys and China during the 1970s
  • Vladislav Zubok (LSE): The USSR and China during the 1980s  

 12.15-13.00 Lunch

13.00-14.45: Panel 2: Western Europe and Chinese reforms; Chair: Anne Deighton (Oxford)

  • Martin Albers (Cambridge): A Comparison of French and German Policies towards the PRC, 1978-1982
  • Chi-Kwan Mark (Royal Holloway, London): Britain, Hong Kong and China in the long 1970s  
  • Enrico Fardella; (Peking University): Sino-Italian Relations during the Final Stages of the Cold War  

14.45 - 16.25 Panel 3: Reaffirming socialist solidarity? Eastern Europe and the Chinese reforms; Chair: Kristina Spohr (LSE)

  • Margarita Gnoinska (Troy University): Sino-Polish Relations and Attempts to Reform Communism
  • Zhong Zhong Chen (LSE): The crisis of 1989 in Beijing and Berlin  
  • Peter Vamos (Hungarian Academy of Sciences): Adopting the Hungarian Model for China?

16.25-16.40: Coffee break

16.40-18.00: Panel 4: The Chinese perspective; Chair: Hans van de Ven (Cambridge)

  • Niu Jun (Peking University): Beijing's view on Europe as a partner during the reforms 
  • Chen Jian (Cornell University): After Czechoslovakia: China's Changing Policies toward East Europe in the 'Long 1970s'

18.00-18.15: Closing remarks

19.30              Conference Dinner at Trinity Hall College


For further information, please contact

Martin Albers,

or Zhong Zhong Chen