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Chen Daisun Theoretical Economics Lecture (No. 100) and Seminar to Commemorate the120th Anniversary of the Birth of Mr. Chen Daisun

To commemorate the120th anniversary of the birth of Mr. Chen Daisun, a famous economist and educator, the Institute of Economics of Tsinghua University held the “Chen Daisun Theoretical Economics Lecture (No. 100) and Seminar to Commemorate the120th Anniversary of the Birth of Mr. Chen Daisun” on the afternoon of November 5,2020 at Yejiaxuan Conference Room. Nearly 70 teachers and students from Institute of Economics, School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University participated in the seminar.
At the beginning of the seminar, Professor Tang Ke, Head of the Institute of Economics, as the moderator, delivered a speech on behalf of Professor Peng Kaiping, Dean of the School of Social Sciences. In his speech, Dean Peng wrote that Mr. Chen Daisun studied in an old-style private school when he was very young, and was profoundly learned; and became the backbone of teachers and students of Tsinghua University from the youth period; and supported Southwest Associated University to survive in crisis during his prime of life. His contributions to the reconstruction of Tsinghua University after the victory of the anti-Japanese war were immeasurable. He was ordered to set up Central Institute of Finance and Economics (currently Central University of Finance and Economics) when he just turned 50, and then was in charge of the Department of Economics of Peking University for a long time. His life was brilliant. He made great contributions and left behind a lot of valuable spiritual and knowledge wealth for us!  
Subsequently, Professor Tang Ke briefly reviewed Mr. Chen Daisun’s teaching and educating experience in Tsinghua and Peking University, and pointed out that the Institute of Economics, as the earliest economics group of Tsinghua University, was developed from the Department of Economics in which Mr. Chen Daisun acted as its Director for 30 years since 1928. He also said that in the future, the Institute of Economics would further strengthen cooperation with Peking University and the Central University of Finance and Economics to jointly carry out the commemorative activities for Mr. Chen Daisun and inherit Mr. Chen Daisun’s spirits of school of economics of Tsinghua University that being committed to learning, writing, teaching and educating and moral integrity.
Then, Professor Cai Jiming of Institute of Economics, Director of Center for Political Economy of Tsinghua University, deputy to the NPC and member of Central Finance and Economics Committee, made an academic report on the issue of logical consistency in traditional political economy research.
Professor Cai Jiming first reviewed two works by Mr. Chen Daisun that he had read in the university and was inspired by them. Then, he revealed the logical consistency problems in traditional political economy research from nine aspects and summarized the ways to adhere to the principle of logical consistency. He said that if to keep the theory complete, the logical consistency principle must be followed, which is the most methodological principle that academic research institutes must adhere to. The so-called logical consistency principle means that no logical contradiction exists in the same thinking process, that is, no contradiction or coordination. No logical contradictions are allowed for the thinking and logical consistency should be maintained in the thinking process, otherwise it is incorrect thinking. Among various problems that may arise in human thinking activities, the most taboo is the logical contradiction. The thinking that contains logical contradictions must be incorrect, and logical inconsistency is never allowed by all correct thinking. The studies on modern political economy should be contentious, inclusive and all-embracing. We should study Marxist political economy with a scientific attitude, and distinguish the basic principles of Marxism from individual conclusions. When there is a contradiction between the basic principle and methodology, the basic principle should be modified and perfected with its methodology. We should insist that practice is the only standard to test truth, and constantly revise, improve, innovate and develop the original theory according to new practice.
Next, Professor Long Denggao of Tsinghua University, Director of Center for Chinese Entrepreneur Studies and winner of Sun Yefang Economic Science Award, gave an academic report entitled “On Grassroots Self-governance and National Capacity: Traditional Institutions and Their Theoretical Implications”.
In his report, Professor Long Denggao described the grassroots self-governance modes in traditional China. In traditional China, various civil organizations were responsible for providing public goods and established ties with the government. Civil organizations, led by gentry, were widely involved in the construction of multi-level infrastructures such as bridges, covered bridges and education, and had corporation property rights, encouraged and supported by the government.  The government also widely entrusted brokers, Xiejia and other civil subjects to complete tax collection and public management affairs, so as to realize the indirect management of grassroots community. The institutional foundation of grassroots self-governance lied in private property right and corporate property right systems. Under the natural and technical constraints of the traditional society, the imperial court could reduce the principal-agent links by means of a smaller government to overcome the incentive incompatibility of the bureaucratic system and reduce the management cost of the unified regime to a certain extent. It could also disperse risks and check and balance the bureaucratic system in some degree, which has long contributed to the formation of national capacity. Since the modern times, grassroots self-governance has been declining under the increasingly strengthened government control, and its institutional heritage is worth studying.
Finally, Professor Li Daokui of Institute of Economics, Dean of Institute for Chinese Economic Practice and Thinking, Tsinghua University, Member of Standing Committee of The National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and Member of National Economic Council, made a report on “Inheritance and Innovation of Economics of Tsinghua University”.
Professor Li Daokui first reviewed Mr. Chen Daisun’s life experiences and said that no matter how turbulent the situation was, Mr. Chen Daisun always firmly stood in the right direction of historical development. This spiritual character is particularly important in the current environment. In addition, Mr. Chen has three admirable characters. Firstly, he presented his incredible talent in the study period. After graduating from Tsinghua University, he graduated from University of Wisconsin in two years and won the Gold Key Award, and then obtained the Doctor Degree of Harvard University in four years. Secondly, he devoted himself to teaching and educating people. He revised his lecture notes repeatedly and finally edited them into books, which became a classic. Moreover, he made irreplaceable contributions to the discipline construction. Thirdly, he was a man of noble character, and people familiar with him called him “modest gentleman”. While providing advice and suggestions for national construction, he could handle the school affairs. He was noble and pure, and was always praised by people.
Professor Li Daokui pointed out that to inherit the valuable spiritual wealth left by Mr. Chen Daisun, the first important thing we should do is to be engaged in teaching conscientiously. The greatest contribution of teachers is to influence the next generation and pass knowledge and spirit to the later generations. In terms of research, Professor Li Daokui proposed four paths of Tsinghua economic innovation. Firstly, insisting on the innovation of political economy. The success of reform and opening up has added practical cases to political economy. The development of political economy must be closely linked with reality and the institutional arrangements behind Chinese economy should be explained from the perspective of logical philosophy. Secondly, further developing Chinese economic history. Globally, Economic History itself is a rapidly developing discipline. China has a long history, remarkable economic achievements and more historical records, providing unique advantages for the development of economic history. Thirdly, studying digital economy deeply closely based on the reality. The degree of development of China's digital economy has been comparable to that of the United States. We are the closest scholars to observe the development of digital economy. At the same time, combined with the Tsinghua’s strong advantages in computer discipline, our research on digital economy will certainly get rich results. Fourthly, developing government and market economics. In the 70 years of development history of New China, the government has played an important role in the economic development. Reviewing the successful experience of reform and opening up, we should re-recognize the relationship between government and market. We should internalize government behavior into the process of economic activities. For instance, the fiscal and taxation system determines the government behavior. What kind of economic performance will be caused by government behavior? Professor Li Daokui concluded that we should inherit Mr. Chen Daisun’s valuable spiritual wealth, firmly grasp the pain points and obstructions of China’s economic development, follow the rhythm of the development of the times and be bold in innovation to create a new pattern for the development of Economics of Tsinghua University.
At the end of the meeting, Professor Tang Ke made a summary for this event and encouraged teachers and students in the Institute of Economics to learn from Mr. Chen Daisun through this commemorative event and to learn from his tireless scholarship spirit and noble morality of imparting knowledge and cultivating people.
                                  Contributed by Zeng Jiaqing, Liu Yuan, Chen Yueyuan, Mao Wenfang