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Distinguished Lecture Series | Li Bozhong: Innovation and Backwardness - The 'Early Maturity Yet Immaturity' of Ancient Chinese Currency Development."
Release time:2023-06-20Views:1558


Shenzhen Finance Institute  

School of Management and Economics, CUHK-Shenzhen  

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Li Bozhong

Chair Professor of Humanities at Peking University

Li Bozhong is a Chair Professor of Humanities at Peking University. He was the first doctoral degree holder in ancient Chinese history after establishing the Chinese degree system. He has worked at the Zhejiang Academy of Social Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard University, the University of Michigan, the University of California, Los Angeles, the California Institute of Technology, the London School of Economics and Political Science, the French National Center for Scientific Research, and Keio University in Japan. His main works include "Early Industrialization in the Yangzi Delta, 1550-1850", "Economic History of the Yangzi Delta in Multiple Perspectives", "Theories, Methods and Trends of Disciplinary Development: A New Approach to Chinese Economic History", "China's Early Modern Economy: A Study of GDP of the Huating-Lou Area in the 1820s", "Firearms and Account Books: China and East Asia in the Early Economic Globalization", "Agricultural Development in the Yangzi Delta, 1620-1850", "An Early Modern Economy in China, the Yangzi Delta in the 1820s", among others.

Lecture Topic

Innovation and Backwardness - The 'Early Maturity Yet Immaturity' of Ancient Chinese Currency Development."

In the past, there was a prevailing view in the academic community that the forms of currency in Chinese history were backward and lacked diversity, which was considered a major obstacle to modernization in China. This lecture will discuss whether this view is correct.

This lecture discusses the continuous evolution of currency forms throughout Chinese history, including two significant inventions that have greatly impacted the world's monetary history. The first is the invention and widespread use of copper coins, and the second is the invention and use of paper money. This year marks the millennium of the first paper currency in the world, known as Jiaozi. The invention of paper money is one of the greatest inventions in human history, and its importance is comparable to that of the four great inventions that we take pride in. After these two great inventions, China adopted silver as an internationally recognized currency during the early stages of economic globalization, which allowed the Chinese economy to integrate into the global economy. This lecture will also discuss the role played by China in the evolution of its currency throughout history.

In summary, the development of ancient Chinese currency exhibits both innovation and backwardness, presenting a characteristic of being "premature yet immature". This is closely related to The Needham Question and The Max Weber Theory that we have long discussed in the past. Therefore, by examining the changes in Chinese monetary history, we can link it to other aspects and gain a more comprehensive and better understanding of ancient Chinese history.