Center introduction

China Center for Special Economic Zone Research , Shenzhen University

     China Center for Special Economic Zone Research, Shenzhen University (CCSEZR), approved by the Ministry of Education of China in 2001 as a key research base for humanities and social sciences at provincial-level universities, is the only academic institute focusing on the study of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) among all key research bases for humanities and social sciences of the Ministry of Education and the only academic think tank in China that specializes in the study of SEZ issues. It boasts the only Doctor of Arts program of Shenzhen University (SZU)—the doctoral program for first-level theoretical economics and the only postdoctoral workstation for the College of Liberal Arts in SZU—post-doctoral workstation for first-level theoretical economics, and national innovation team for theoretical economics. CCSEZR is not only SZU’s theoretical economics base camp, but also an open academic platform underpinning the development of SZU’s philosophy of the social sciences and humanities disciplines. By now, two out-of-category second-level disciplines, namely, management science & economic decision-making and creative economy & cultural industries, have been developed on the basis of the first-level discipline of theoretical economics. The post-doctoral workstation for first-level theoretical economics provides a platform for scholars in management, law, literature, psychology, life science, and civil engineering to conduct interdisciplinary research.

     The history of CCSEZR can be dated back to 1983 when CCSEZR’s predecessor Economic Studies Institute, Shenzhen University, the first academic institute specializing in SEZ research in China, was established at the charming Shenzhen Bay right after SZU was founded. As a key research base for humanities and social science under the Ministry of Education of China, CCSEZR was initially headed by Prof. Liang Wensen and later chaired by Prof. Fang Sheng, the then SZU vice president and a distinguished economist, and the then SZU vice president Prof. Zheng Tianlun, under whose guidance the SEZ research bore fruits with a considerable amount of influence in China, laying a significant and solid foundation for the development of the institute.

     At the end of 1993, the noted economist Prof. Su Dongbin was transferred to SZU to lead the Economic Studies Institute. At the same time, Economic Studies Institute, Shenzhen University was renamed as the Research Institute of China’s Special Economic Zones, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, since when the research institute has ushered in a brand-new development stage of historic significance. Under Prof. Su Dongbin’s leadership, solid expansion and vigorous advancement were achieved in sectors including academic research, disciplinary construction, research team building, and international academic exchanges. In 1996, SZU took a lead in obtaining the authority to grant a master's degree, a historic breakthrough for the university. In 2000, the Research Institute of China’s Special Economic Zones, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao was renamed as CCSEZR. By virtue of its distinctive accumulation of academic knowledge and great influence in the field of international SEZ research, CCSEZR was approved as a key research base for humanities and social sciences at provincial-level universities under the Ministry of Education in 2001. Currently there are 14 full-time research fellows (including 5 professors, 5 associate professors, and 4 fellows with mid-level rank), 11 doctors, 5 doctoralsupervisors, 9 postgraduate supervisors, 3 special allowance experts, and 3 young Chinese talents who return to China from overseas. Under the operation mechanism of “Small team, big platform” and “Subject combination with in-center studies”, CCSEZR now has 20 part-time research fellows all with professor titles and 6 special visiting professors, including one professor from the “Thousand Talents Program”, one Changjiang scholar, one social celebrity, and one high-caliber overseas talent. Guided by its philosophy of “Promoting the internationalization of academic research”, CCSEZR formed in 1987 a long-term two-way academic visit system with Kumamoto Gakuen University in Japan that has been lasting for 30 years. Meanwhile, CCSEZR has been working with international organizations including the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC), Asian Development Bank (ADB), African Development Bank, and GIZ in Germany on project studies, international forums, and training for senior government officials. It also established long-term partnerships with academic institutes and governmental decision-making departments in countries and regions with emerging market economies, such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Russian Far East, and Africa to provide them with advice in policies and SEZ planning, making unique contributions to the propagation of China’s path and the sharing of successful experience in China’s SEZs which is typified by Shenzhen.

     CCSEZR, Shenzhen University has witnessed an over 30 years of arduous but wonderful development. She explores with perseverance and moves ahead by innovation. “The cross will always come before the crown”, today, CCSEZR not only becomes an academic institution with considerable influence on domestic and foreign SEZ research, but also forms 7 academic brands sharpened over time:

1. China’s Special Economic Zone Forum: Founded by CCSEZR, the academic forum brand-China’s Special Economic Zone Forum has already been held for 16 sessions since 2001. It has gradually become a global academic forum with considerable influence that attracts wide attention from and active participation by domestic and foreign scholars. In 2012, in order to promote the philosophy of “Promoting the internationalization of academic research”, attract more scholars and officials from emerging market economies to join the discussion on SEZ building and the path to realize modernization of catching-up countries and to more widely deepen the mutual understanding and experience sharing between countries, CCSEZR creates the “World Special Economic Zone Forum”, based on the “China’s Special Economic Zone Forum”. The first session of “World Special Economic Zone Forum” is held in Quang Ninh Province in Vietnam and the second session in Hulin in Russian Far East.

2. Joint Conference on China’s Special Economic Zone Research Work : This is a regular work conference which is attended mainly by scholars who study on SEZ problems and officials from SEZs. Since 2003, 8 sessions has been held in 5+2 traditional SEZs and emerging SEZs like Kashgar, and it has been an important regional cooperation platform for China’s SEZs (Free Trade Areas) to communicate.

3. Annual Report on the Development of China's Special Economic Zones (Blue Book):The book was first published in 2006, and has been published continuously during the last decade. Currently, it is the only authoritative annual report on analyzing the SEZ development situation and trend. Recent years, the Blue Book has included introductions of the dynamics of the world SEZs. From 2016 onward, the Blue Book will be published and distributed overseas by SpringerLink Publishing House in Germany.

4. Studies on China's Special Economic Zones (Journal): Founded in 2008, this journal has been published in 9 consecutive years, in both Chinese and English. It is the only academic journal in and outside of China specializing in the research of China’s and world SEZs. Since 2014, the Journal has been published and distributed overseas by SpringerLink Publishing House in Germany.

5. Literature Index on Special Economic Zone Research: These are fundamental literature on the historical materials collection, research and collation of China’s and overseas SEZs, and four series have been published so far, covering research literature on China’s and overseas SEZs since 1978.

6. The Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Chronicle: This is a historical book about Shenzhen SEZ. Since the first edition came out in 2008, two more editions has been revised and published successively, which record all the major events of Shenzhen SEZ in 38 years (from 1978 to 2015).

7. Suggestions Leaflets: Founded by the late well-known economist Prof. Su Dongbin in 1996, this is a unique internal publication that integrates consultation and academic contents and includes a total of 20 volumes 182 issues currently. The characteristics of this publication can be summarized into "an academic works of an independent thought that encourages diverse thinking". It plays an important and far-reaching role in providingadvice and suggestions to local economy.

     CCSEZR has made remarkable achievements in terms of academic research, disciplinary development and talent team building. It not only has an extensive academic influence on domestic and foreign SEZ comparison and SEZ-related problem research, but also has conducted an innovative pioneering exploration in studies of modern Chinese history which is represented by the development history of China's SEZs and the thought history of China's reform and opening-up. It is always the academic responsibility and mission of the CCSEZR to adhere to the study of fundamental economic theories, SEZ issues, and the cutting-edge issues in China’s Reform and Opening-up, and uphold the philosophies of combining real-world problem research with historical research, and combining theoretical research with consultation service. We will continue to uphold the philosophy of “promoting the internationalization of academic research ", and to blaze a new trail in improving socialist market economic theory system, exploring China's political economy, summarizing and promoting the success experience of China's SEZs, and explaining and propagating the essence and connotation of China's path. A nation will not be destroyed because of lack of miracles, but it will wither because of lack of the thought to create a miracle.