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China’s Great Western Development

Evaluations and Perspectives on China's Most Sweeping Developmental Initiative: The Great Western Development Project

October 5, 2007 9:00am to 5:00pm


A Conference funded by the USC U.S. - China Institute and co-sponsored by the USC East Asian Studies Center

The US media and business world are obsessed with China’s phenomenal economic growth, but that growth is largely occurring in China’s Eastern coastal provinces. The majority of people living in China’s Western provinces are still mired in poverty. Moreover, China’s “West” accounts for over 50% of China’s territory and is the home to the vast majority of China’s ethnic minorities, including the politically sensitive Tibetans and Uighurs. The Chinese government is acutely aware that the Western Region represents a crucial economic and political challenge that must be addressed, and in 1999 announced its Great Western Development (Xibu Da Kaifa) initiative, a multi-billion dollar plan to promote development in the region. Experts from Chinese and US universities present research on the challenges of developing China’s northwest, the policies developed, and their impact thus far.

Conference Schedule

Framing "Western Development"      9 – 10:15 am

“China’s “Western Development” in Historical Perspective”

James A.  Cook (Central Washington University, History)
Joshua Goldstein (USC, History)

“State and Society in the Making of Economic Regions"

Carolyn Cartier (USC, Geography)

Managing Ethnicity      10:30 am - Noon

"Muslim China: Islam as Impediment to the Great West Development Program?"

Dru Gladney (Pomona College and Pacific Basin Institute)

"Ethnic governance and Lhasa's economy of appearances"

Emily Ting Yeh (Univeristy of Colorado, Geography)

Lunch Noon - 1 pm

Policy Analysis and Implementation    1 pm - 2:30 pm        

“China’s Western Development and Advances in Understanding Development”

Bai Yongxiu (Xibei University, Economics and Management)

“Placating Credible Rebels: Chinese Transfer Payments to Religious and Non-Religious Minorities”

Victor Shih (Northwestern University, Political Science)

The View from the Rural Grassroots    2:45 -4:15 pm

“The Great Western Divide: Central Leadership Attempts to Reduce the Rural and Urban Economic and Education Gap in Western China”

Shi Yaojiang (Xibei University, Economics and Management)
John Kennedy (University of Kansas, Political Science)

Wrap up Discussion 4:15 - 5 pm


Please RSVP to to ensure that free parking and lunch are provided.

Click here to view a map of the USC campus. Enter campus through Gate 3 on Figueroa at 35th St and park in Parking Structure X. Parking on campus is $8.

To find out more about the conference, contact Joshua Goldstein at