Mark Frazier

Tag: Mark Frazier

Impending Change in Chinese Leadership Focus of Lawrence University International Lecture Series

Chinese scholar Mark Frazier examines China’s upcoming change in leadership and how politics is conducted in the world’s most populous country in the second installment of Lawrence University’s 2012 Povolny Lecture Series in International Studies.

Chinese scholar Mark Frazier

Frazier, co-director of the India China Institute at The New School in New York City, presents “Who is Xi? Knowns and Unknowns in China’s Political Future,” Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Xi Jinping is expected to be named new party chief Nov. 8 at China’s 18th Party Congress. Much uncertainty, however, says Frazier, lies below the surface of this impending transition. He will discuss how the lack of information about Xi is symptomatic of larger problems on the horizon for how politics are conducted in China as well as for how China is perceived in the world.

Frazier spent six years as a member of the Lawrence government department before joining the University of Oklahoma in 2007 as the ConocoPhillips Professor of Chinese Politics and Associate Professor of International and Area Studies. Earlier this year, he was appointed to an endowed position in Chinese politics at The New School, where he also co-directs the India China Institute.

A scholar on the politics of labor and social policies in China, Frazier is the author of the books “Socialist Insecurity: Pensions and the Politics of Uneven Development in China” and “The Making of the Chinese Industrial Workplace.

The Povolny Lecture Series, named in honor of long-time Lawrence government professor Mojmir Povolny, who passed away in August, promotes interest and discussion on issues of moral significance and ethical dimensions.

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Lawrence University Political Scientist Selected for Special Policy Program on China

Mark Frazier, Luce assistant professor of East Asian political economy and assistant professor of government at Lawrence University, has been named to the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ 2005-07 Public Intellectuals Program. He was one of 20 young (under age 45) national China scholars selected for the program.

Designed to nurture a new generation of China specialists who have the interest and potential to play significant roles as public intellectuals, the program looks to upgrade the quality of American public understanding of China by strengthening links among U.S. academics, policymakers and opinion leaders.

As a member of the program, Frazier will participate in a variety of activities over the course of the next two and one-half years, beginning with a five-day workshop Sept. 22-27 in Washington, D.C., in which he will meet with relevant U.S. government agencies and think tanks.

Frazier will have access to senior policymakers and experts in both the United States and China as well as emerging business and nonprofit sectors in China. During the course of the program, he will participate in a 10-day trip to China, help organize and participate in a one-day regional public event on China, develop at least one local public education program and either participate in a National Committee sponsored conference or serve as scholar-escort for a National Committee delegation in the United States or China.

“It’s a tremendous honor to have been selected for this program,” said Frazier, who earned his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. “The younger generation of China scholars in the United States, myself included, needs to be more engaged in the national debate over the emergence of China as a global power. I look forward to bringing my own views to that discussion and to organizing events here in the Fox Valley that will further our understanding of contemporary China.”

Frazier, who joined the Lawrence faculty in 2001, is the author of the book “The Making of the Chinese Industrial Workplace: State, Revolution, and Labor Management” (Cambridge University Press, 2002), which explores labor practices in state-owned enterprises before and after the 1949 Chinese revolution. He spent six months during the 2004-05 academic year in Beijing and Shanghai as a Fulbright Research Fellow, conducting social surveys and interviews on how citizens and officials have responded to Chinese pension reforms.

A one-time staff writer for Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., newspaper that covers Capitol Hill, where he reported on lobbying and labor practices in Congress, Frazier serves as a senior advisor to the National Bureau of Asian Research.

Based in New York City, the National Committee on United States-China Relations promotes understanding and cooperation between the United States and greater China in the belief that sound and productive Sino-American relations serve vital American and world interests.

Lawrence University Political Scientist Awarded Fulbright Grant to Study Pension Reforms in China

Lawrence University political scientist Mark Frazier has been awarded a $59,500 grant by the Fulbright Scholar Program to conduct research on pension reform initiatives in China.

Beginning in October, Frazier will spend six months in China investigating different strategies that local government officials are implementing to deal with the financial and political obstacles created by recently enacted pension reforms.

First established in 1951 under Mao Tse-Tung and covering a mere 20,000 retirees who met all the necessary requirements at the time, China’s pension program underwent its first major overhaul in 40 years in the early 1990s. The long-standing practice of retired state workers receiving pensions from their place of employment was reformed into a program where the costs of retirement benefits was shifted from the government to individual employers and workers.

“Chinese officials are finding themselves caught between competing forces,” said Frazier, assistant professor of government and the Luce Assistant Professor of East Asian Political Economy at Lawrence. “They are attempting to establish the country’s first viable social safety net, while at the same time, they face pressure from international organizations like the World Bank to reduce the government’s provision of pension benefits by encouraging people to save for their own retirements.”

Local governments are now facing the financial realities of collecting less in payroll taxes than is necessary to cover the payments to current pension recipients, much less future retirees. In less than 15 years, the number of Chinese retirees eligible for pension benefits has quadrupled, growing from 10 million in 1990 to 40 million today. The problem is further compounded by the fact there are no pension laws in China, only a series of regulations which create considerable latitude among provincial and municipal authorities in how pensions are administered.

Working with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Frazier will focus his research on four provincial capitals, including Beijing. Through interviews with officials from the social insurance and pension departments of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, enterprise managers and individual pensioners, as well as published government documents, Frazier will study the different strategies administrators are using to manage pension regulations and whether pension recipients are in fact receiving their legally entitled benefits.

“When any government makes changes to what it once promised as benefits to retirees, it is a very risky political move. This is why social security reform here is considered the proverbial ‘third rail of American politics,'” said Frazier. “In China, it’s true that the leadership doesn’t have to worry about a voter backlash, but the stakes in pension reform are arguably higher. How the government handles the financial tasks of supporting a rapidly growing elderly population will heavily influence what the Chinese economy looks like in the future, and even what Chinese people demand of their government.

“This is an exceptional and exciting opportunity to conduct research at a crucial stage in China’s economic reforms,” Frazier added. “I owe a great deal of thanks to many colleagues at Lawrence who supported my grant application and who have made it possible for me carry out the research. I’m looking forward to sharing the results with my classes and encouraging students to pursue their own research abroad.”

Frazier, who speaks and reads Mandarin Chinese, joined the Lawrence government department in 2001 in a new faculty position created under a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. He is the author of the 2002 book, “The Making of the Chinese Industrial Workplace: State, Revolution and Labor Management,” which traces the origins of the “iron rice bowl” of comprehensive cradle-to-grave benefits and lifetime employment in Chinese factories.

A visitor to China a dozen times in the past 10 years, Frazier serves as a senior advisor for the Seattle-based National Bureau of Asian Research. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California-Berkeley.