‘Trust, Global Traders, and Commodities in a Chinese International city’

Project: Research

Project Details


The entire project entitled above is funded by ERC and led by Professor Magnus Marsden of Sussex University with a research team formed by scholars from Royal Holloway, Sussex, Cambridge, and Copenhagen Universities. I am the first team member and mainly responsible for Research Cluster 3 as well as the communication with Yiwu municipal government, Zhejiang Provincial government and relevant ministries of people’s Republic of China.

TRODITIES’ central focus will be on Yiwu, a dynamic city of 2 million in China’s commercially vibrant Zhejiang province. Yiwu is known by traders from countries including Afghanistan and Syria, Ukraine and Mexico, and the UK and Russia as the world’s hub for the wholesale of ‘small commodities’. Professor Magnus Marsden and the project's team of researchers will explore the ways in which transnational trading activities are conducted in Yiwu, and document the city's connections to the wider world through networks and flows of people, commodities, and knowledge.

Empirically TRODITIES seeks to develop an integrated understanding of: (i) the social groups active in such trading practices and the types of sociality and trust-based relations they create and deploy; (ii) the specific effects that commodities have on such forms of trade and the contexts they are affecting; and (iii) the socio-economic dynamics of trading nodes and cities, and their relations (political, economic, and cultural) to one another and to the polities and nation-states within whose realms they exist. Theoretically, it is anticipated that the project's findings will yield new perspectives on the precise ways in which trade, while facilitating the exchange of commodities, does or does not simultaneously promote transfer of practices, ideas, and identities.

Research cluster 3 will be concerned with particular trading places and contexts. This cluster will assess the importance of policy, history, and socio-economic circumstance in affecting the nature of changing trading activities and the shifting forms of sociality characteristic of such settings. Within this cluster, my research will provide political economy analysis on the interactive development between policy and Yiwu's trade. The data will be collected for a better understanding of the following three aspects: Part 1 The historical evolution of Yiwu from a small town to an international hub of the global commodity trade center in low-grade goods. Part 2 Policy development and it's engagement with and impact on Yiwu's stakeholders. Part 3 Policy reform and it's implication to Yiwu's future. Chinese government policy across and beyond the realms of land using, labour laws, international and internal migration, taxation and customs, price, environmental and safety legislation, banking and finance, anti-dump and intellectual property right (IPR), and infrastructure (transportation, energy, telecommunication, education and health). These policies are of critical importance to the shifting fortunes of Yiwu and the host countries of Yiwu’s goods. Hence, this part of research will generate significant impact on the economy, society, public service, environment of not only Yiwu and China but also the destination (host countries) of the Chinese low-grade goods.
Effective start/end date1/01/16 → …