Throughout the months of March and April, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) hosted its 18th KAIST Humanities Lectures for Citizens, “China, Dreaming of its Draconian Rise?” at the School of Humanities and Social Science Building (N4) every Wednesday from March 8 to April 12. The succession of six lectures offered a multifaceted analysis of China’s long pending issues, split into domestic and international sections.
The first three lectures traversed three of most pressing intranational issues. Professor Gab Yong Yang from Sungkyun Institute of China Studies extrapolated the impact of the Communist era in China on the nation’s modern systems in his talk, “No Communism, No Contemporary China”. “Governing, Laws, and Democracy of China” given by Professor Hyungjin Cho from Incheon University’s Academy of Chinese Studies explored the administrative side of the tumultuous government. The third lecture, “Constitutional Economics Reform in China” explained by Moon-Hyung Lee, PhD who previously served as the Director of the Beijing Office under Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, captured the key points of current and speculative legislative reforms to improve the slowing economy.
Sang Hun Lee, PhD, an Associate Research Fellow from the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, presented “China’s Economic Soft-Landing and Direction” to tackle the recent interest in whether China’s once booming economy has worn off its initial rush. He addressed the concerns about the increasingly stagnant growth rate of China’s economy — while it has hit a new low in terms of pure percentage, the growth is smoothing to a plateau through a “soft- landing” with a promising support from ever-high consumption and development of service industry. Furthermore, the unwavering urbanization broadened the market internationally; China is an unstoppable leviathan in the international market, and its plans to extend further in the technological fields are evident.
In continuation with the topic of China’s urbanization process, Professor Chul-Hyun Park from the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on China at Kookmin University scrutinized the more worrying trend of “Decrease in Demographic Bonus and Aging of China”. More than any other developed country in the world, China is racing towards a graying society. The problems exacerbate in the countryside, which currently houses mostly female elderly left behind in the sway of younger generations moving towards cities for a higher quality of life. In reaction to declining birth rate, the government has lifted its infamous “One-child policy”, yet it failed to boost the population in the trying economic times. In response to the regional population discrepancies, lack of established social welfare, and raging urbanization, Professor Park stated that China must focus on regulation of regional governments and stabilization of employment and social welfare.
Though anyone — students, staff, and visitors — had access to the lectures, SHSS opened a limited number of spaces for those who wished to obtain a certificate of completion for participating in four of the six lectures given. The top-notch seminars provided by the most knowledgeable specialists continued to garner a significant audience, who filled most of the 50 seats allowed per presentation. The lectures ended with a careful gaze into the uncertain future of both China and East Asia, a subject manifested in the minds of many as they warily wait to see where the “Goliath of the East” may head next.