Julian Gewirtz


Unlikely Partners:
Chinese Reformers, Western Economists, and the Making of Global China



February 3, 2017
4:00 PM


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Update: This event has been rescheduled to March 10th at 3pm. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Harvard Book Store welcomes Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar JULIAN GEWIRTZ for a discussion of his book, Unlikely Partners: Chinese Reformers, Western Economists, and the Making of Global China.

About Unlikely Partners

Unlikely Partners recounts the story of how Chinese politicians and intellectuals looked beyond their country’s borders for economic guidance at a key crossroads in the nation’s tumultuous twentieth century. Julian Gewirtz offers a dramatic tale of competition for influence between reformers and hardline conservatives during the Deng Xiaoping era, bringing to light China’s productive exchanges with the West.

When Mao Zedong died in 1976, his successors seized the opportunity to reassess the wisdom of China’s rigid commitment to Marxist doctrine. With Deng Xiaoping’s blessing, China’s economic gurus scoured the globe for fresh ideas that would put China on the path to domestic prosperity and ultimately global economic power. Leading foreign economists accepted invitations to visit China to share their expertise, while Chinese delegations traveled to the United States, Hungary, Great Britain, West Germany, Brazil, and other countries to examine new ideas. Chinese economists partnered with an array of brilliant thinkers, including Nobel Prize winners, World Bank officials, battle-scarred veterans of Eastern Europe’s economic struggles, and blunt-speaking free-market fundamentalists.

Nevertheless, the push from China’s senior leadership to implement economic reforms did not go unchallenged, nor has the Chinese government been eager to publicize its engagement with Western-style innovations. Even today, Chinese Communists decry dangerous Western influences and officially maintain that China’s economic reinvention was the Party’s achievement alone. Unlikely Partners sets forth the truer story, which has continuing relevance for China’s complex and far-reaching relationship with the West.


"A great book and a delight to read. It roars along at an exuberant, enthusiastic pace; each time I put it down I was eager to pick it up again. Gewirtz tells an important and bold story, making a substantial contribution to understanding China's economic transformation." —Barry Naughton, author of The Chinese Economy

"Gewirtz has added a brilliant new chapter to the story of China’s economic revival. This intelligent, thoroughly well-informed study reveals the essential role played by Western advisors who sought not to change China, but, rather, to be partners in its success. A powerful case for openness." —Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China

"China’s reforms have been written about from many different angles, but no one until now has delved into the intellectual interchanges that transformed the thinking of a generation of economists who are still influencing China today. It is a great story, and Gewirtz tells it with great verve." —Joseph Fewsmith, author of China since Tiananmen

Julian Gewirtz
Julian Gewirtz

Julian Gewirtz

Julian Gewirtz, a 2013 graduate of Harvard College, is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Oxford and a Rhodes Scholar.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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