Zhang Weiying

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Zhang Weiying (born 1959) is a prominent Chinese economist and was head of the Guanghua School of Management at Beijing University. He is known for his advocacy of free markets and his ideas have been influenced by the Austrian School.

Zhang Weiying graduated with a bachelor degree in 1982, and a master degree in 1984, from Northwest University (China). He received his M. Phil. in economics in 1992 and D. Phil. in economics from Oxford University. His D. Phil. supervisors were James Mirrlees (1996 Nobel Laureate) and Donald Hay. Between 1984 and 1990, he was a research fellow of the Economic System Reform Institute of China under the State Commission of Restructuring Economic System. During this period, he was heavily involved in economic reform policy making in China. He was the first Chinese economist who proposed the “dual-track price system reform” (in 1984). He was also known for his contributions to macro-control policy debating, ownership reform debating, and entrepreneurship studies. After he graduated from Oxford, he co-founded China Center for Economic Research (CCER), Peking University in 1994, and worked with the Center first as an associate professor and then as a professor until August, 1997.

He then moved to Guanghua School of Management in September, 1997. He was removed as Dean from the Guanghua School of Management in 2010; the removal was attributed to his radical views, which distracted him from the responsibilities of being a dean, according to one teacher at the school.

Zhang’s economic view is heavily influenced by the theories of the Austrian School (in particular von Hayek), which puts a strong emphasis on individualism. In 1990, Zhang left China to study at Oxford under James Mirrlees (the 1996 Nobel laureate) receiving his doctorate in 1994. In his PhD thesis, Zhang elaborated on the relationship between entrepreneurship and private property. He argued that capitalism is the only system in which real entrepreneurs can be distinguished. Entrepreneurship, according to Zhang, is central to the sustainable operation of any form of economy.

Zhang Weiying is the Sinar Mas Chair Professor of Economics at National School of Development.

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