The Paul and Marcia Wythes Center on Contemporary China has significantly widened its activities to encompass economics, financial technology, regulation, and engineering, on top of demography and sociology, while maintaining its sharp focus on data-driven social science. Thus, the Center has created the Program on China’s Economy and Society that will be jointly directed by Professor Jianqing Fan in Operation Research and Financial Engineering and Professor Xiong Wei in Economics.  Professors Xiong and Fan will launch expanded research projects with the additional funding. Longer term, Professor Yu Xie, the Wythes Center director, is keen on eventually establishing a major data archive to enable an international network of scholars to engage in even more big data research on China.


More specifically, co-Director Xiong plans to use the CCC support to fully develop his research agenda on understanding Chinese economy and financial system. Specifically, he intends to explore the following directions:

  1. developing more reliable measures of China’s national and regional economies
  2. understanding economic mechanisms and consequences of China’s real estate boom
  3. understanding risks in China’s financial system
  4. the ultimate goal is to develop an integrated framework for analyzing economic and financial risks in China

Co-Director Fan plans to develop and apply cutting-edge statistical machine learning, AI and big data technologies to study various societal problems in China. These include measuring and understanding systemic risks of financial and economic systems, developing financial technologies and their associated regulations, developing credit rating and modeling in macro finance, optimizing energy distributions and usages, studying health costs and biological processes and measurements. Some related issues in the US will also be investigated and compared.  Professor Xie will use a small portion of the funds to facilitate research in demographic changes in Chinese society.

Joint Postdoctoral Programs

As a core of this new program, Jianqing and Xiong would like to establish new joint postdoctoral programs with Fudan University in Shanghai (per Jianqing’s initiative) and Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shenzhen (per Wei’s initiative). The two new postdoctoral programs, FPPP and CPPP respectively, housed in CCC at Princeton, would leverage Jianqing’s current institutional ties with Fudan and Xiong’s institutional ties with CUHK-Shenzhen. The FPPP is open applicants from any of the data sciences-relevant disciplines and assist Professor Fan his research agenda. The CPPP Postdoctoral Fellow will assist Professor Xiong in developing his research agenda as outlined above.

Research Assistantships

Professor Fan will have a dedicated research assistantship to apply deep learning technologies to study the inefficiency issues in high-frequency finance and to study the effect on the limit of tradings on the system. Policy and mechanism design can be a part of the research. In future years, Professor Xiong will hire an RA to assist with his work on China’s financial markets and China’s evolving economy.

Visiting Scholars

Professor Fan would like to invite visitors to assist with prediction of energy usage and how to use such predictions to forecast local GDP and housing usage. Visitors in other years will assist Professor Xiong with some of his research endeavors, including analyzing housing market movements, China’s financial system, and developing the integrated framework for analyzing economic and financial risks in China.

Annual Program Lecture

As part of the Program, an annual speaker will be invited to speak.  This year’s speaker has already been selected, Professor Xiaobo Zhang of the National School of Development at Peking University. His lecture entitled “Community Networks and the Evolution of Private Enterprises in China” will investigate the role of hometown connections in the growth of private industrial entrepreneurship in China since 1990, using a unique administrative dataset containing origins of entrepreneurs in all registered firms.

Conference and Travel Funding

For this fiscal year, conference funding has been designated to sponsorship of the "2018 International Conference on Financial Engineering and Risk Management (FERM2018)" to be held in Fudan University and will cover honorarium, travel, and other conference expenses. This year, two keynote speakers, Chris Sims and Yacine Ait-Sahalia, are from Princeton University. In future years, such funding will go toward similarly-themed conferences. Some funding has been designated for the directors’ and Professor Xie’s travel to and from China to meet with research collaborators, collect data, etc.