Remarks by the Chairman

The Sun Yefang Economic Science Foundation is in its 30th year. Over the last three decades, thanks to kind support and interest from across society, the foundation has come a long way and grown in tandem with China’s reform and opening up. It has witnessed huge economic and social progress and the emancipation of both minds and theories.


The recently concluded third plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee fired the starting pistol on a new round of comprehensive and deepening reforms that mark the next stage of China’s economic progress. The experience of the last 35 years has shown that reform and opening up is a critical process in determining the future fate and prosperity of the Chinese nation. There is no finishing line for the reform and opening up process, as there is no ending to economic development or the emancipation of minds and academic research.

The name Sun Yefang has traditionally been associated with the emancipation of minds and the reform of economic systems. Thirty years ago, soon after Mr. Sun passed away, the state leaders of the time highly praised the admirable yet uneasy life of Mr. Sun and gave full recognition to his commitment to academic research and his contribution to the theories of economics. On the initiative of some state leaders and renowned economists, the Sun Yefang Economic Science Award Foundation Committee was founded. Many founding members contributed money out of their meager savings and salaries in order to get it off the ground. The name of the foundation was changed to the Sun Yefang Economic Science Foundation in 1995.


Sun Yefang is the most preeminent economist of contemporary China. His stature comes not only from his multi-faceted role as the leading thinker, mentor and chief commander in economic circles for a generation, but more importantly from the perseverance and tenacity he displayed in his personal character during those tough years. As society progresses, perhaps Sun’s legacy is seen not so much in his writing or opinions, but in his relentless academic pursuit and his audacity of thought, for which he remains a timeless role model and a benchmark not only for the Chinese economic circles of today but also for the whole of academia. The younger generation may not know much about Mr. Sun’s life or works, but his name, like those of other economists from a previous-generation, such as Chen Hansheng, Xue Muqiao and Yu Guangyuan, will continue to resonate strongly within Chinese economic circles.


Visionaries of a previous-generation such as Xue Muqiao and Sun Yefang put forward their economic theories and reform proposals during a time of tremendous political pressure. They cared little about personal gain or honor. They made arduous and enduring efforts to develop economic theories tailored to Chinese reality. Many of the theories and arguments of these economists of a previous generation, such as Xue and Sun, were critical, self-reflective, pioneering and forward-looking despite their political and economic contexts. They wrote a glorious chapter in the history of China’s economic thinking.


The mission of the foundation is to pass down and carry forward the spirit of these economists of the last generation, Sun being a prime example, to respect the law of economics and to guard the truth. In the new era, the foundation’s mission has evolved to focus on the economic and social transformations in China, to encourage innovation in economic theories, promote the flourishing of economic science, give awards to exceptional young economists for their commitment to academic excellence, reward and incentivize organizations and individuals who contribute to economic science, and sponsor economics students in need.


Since its inception in 1984, the foundation has been organizing the Sun Yefang Economic Science Award on a biennial basis. Fifteen awards have been handed out so far. Forty-nine works and 168 papers have been selected. The winning works contain the latest findings on economic science in China and embody the highest academic caliber for economic research in various disciplines. At the same time, the Sun Yefang Economic Science Award has identified one crop of economic elites after another. Many recipients of the award have become academic champions and are already serving in important leadership positions of the country.


The selection process for the Sun Yefang Economic Science Award has been transparent and fair. Entry can come by application of the author or nomination by experts, on which basis a preliminary review panel consisting of economics professors assigned by leading universities in China will conduct an independent review to screen the shortlisted works and papers. Then the award committee of the foundation will organize an open debate and anonymous voting by its members. The winners are determined through a simple majority subject to a final approval by the board of trustees of the foundation. The uncompromising integrity of the selection process and principles has given the award strong credibility and a reputation as the highest distinction one can receive in China in the economic sphere.


Starting with the 14th award, we have gone beyond the established practice of selecting only works published in credible Chinese publications and started to pay attention to great works and papers on the Chinese economy published in well-known international publications, including those written in foreign languages and by foreign authors. This has greatly enlarged the scope of selection and increased the international influence of the foundation. This helps encourage and urge young scholars to comply with international academic norms, participate actively in international academic debate and make Chinese voices heard in international academia. This also helps to push Chinese economic studies out to the world and improve the academic rigor of the Chinese economic community as a whole.


On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, the foundation has decided to create another award category for financial innovation to encourage economis to explore and develop theories in the financial domain.


We deeply understand the foundation must keep abreast of the times. We need to identify underlying trends, promote economic system reform more proactively, encourage greater openness and enterprising research, attract fresh talent across China to maintain academic excellence and strong innovation, and to continue to expand the influence of the foundation in society, especially among young economists.


To realize these goals, relying only on the foundation’s own manpower and resources would be far from enough. We need the support and partnership of different elements of society. The Sun Yefang Foundation is a non-profit public welfare organization. For a long time, the foundation’s staff has done its part selflessly and silently as volunteers. We look forward to having more like- minded people to join us and contribute their own efforts to the prosperity of China’s economic science. 



LI Jiange

December 2013

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