China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The concepts of price and value were the subject of one of the central debates in Chinese economics in the post-war period. While the idea of a planned economy was broadly accepted, Chinese economists and politicians debated whether Marx’s Law of Value should apply under socialism, providing an empirical basis for the work of economic planners, or whether a socialist economy was characterised by the fact that the law of value no longer applied, allowing planners to set prices based purely on political priorities. To be on the wrong side of this argument was dangerous, as economists like Sun Yefang discovered to their cost. And yet, Sun and other economists like Lin Jiken, Gu Zhun were willing to argue for the existence of economic laws under socialism, often at great cost to their careers. Their arguments were frequently based on their academic training, which they had often received before or during the Second Sino-Japanese War. While it this intellectual continuity was important, their intellectual stand for the existence of economic laws was also the result of studying the economic development of the PRC and other recent socialist economies, and of the flourishing of economics as an academic field in the early PRC.