Cui Zhiyuan

Cui Zhi Yuan

Professor, School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing.

Cui Zhiyuan (崔之元 b. 1963) is a leading member of the Chinese New Left and a key figure in debates concerning the development of alternative models to neo-liberal capitalism. He studied mathematics at the National University of Defense Technology in Changsha, before earning an MA and PhD in Political Science at the University of Chicago. During this time, Cui gained notoriety when he published the article 'Institutional Innovation and the Second Thought Liberation'; imploring the Chinese people to “liberate” themselves from neo-liberal capitalist thought.

Since this time, Cui has been at the forefront of debates concerning the political and economic legacies of Mao-era China, in particular advocating for the retention of the planned economy, people’s communes and, most famously, for the so-called “Chongqing model” of Bo Xilai; which advocates for increased state control and the implementation of neo-leftist policies aimed at alleviating China’s dependency on foreign imports.

Cui was also one of the first advocates of game theory within China and, in particular, for the adoption of elements of liberal socialism. This position was most clearly articulated in his famous article "'Xiaokang Socialism': A Petty-Bourgeois Manifesto" which begins with the paragraph: “A specter is haunting China and the World – the specter of petty-bourgeois socialism”. 

More recently, Cui presented the paper “In Search of Dynamic Republicanism for the 21st Century” as part of the documenta 11 platform “Democracy Unrealized” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin and initiated, alongside Charles Sabel of Columbia University Law School, the research project “Experimental Governance: Its Promise and Limits in China”. He is currently a Professor at the School of Public Policy and Management in Tsinghua University, Beijing, as well as a regular Visiting Professor at Cornell University. Together with current and former students, Cui runs a free weekly Wechat (a Chinese social media platform) publication titled “Experimental Governance” that has so far published almost 100 issues and boasts over 2000 subscribers from across academia and policy-research think tanks.


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