Yue Xiao, 2018-19 HOPE Center Fellow

The scholarly literature on the great nineteenth-century political economist John Stuart Mill is large indeed.

But Yue Xiao, a 2018-19 HOPE Center fellow, has noticed one aspect of Mill’s influence that has gone largely unexamined: his influence on China.

“Lots of studies have looked at Mill’s international influence, especially in India,” Yue says. “But scholars have not paid enough attention to the impact of Mill’s thought on China.”

In fact, Yue explains, Mill’s writings influenced China’s thinkers, reformers, and leaders of different parties during periods of great social, economic, and political transformations.

Her work at the Center will focus on the connection between Mill and China. She was led to the subject, as well as to the Center, by her PhD adviser at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Joseph Persky, a Mill scholar himself.

Here, at Duke, Yue can take advantage of the library, whose resources, she says, are second to none.

She is also benefiting tremendously from the intellectual environment of the Center. The Friday lunches and workshops in particular are giving her a much-needed opportunity to practice discoursing in English.

In addition to her study of Mill and China, Yue is researching the Hankou Concession and its relationship to the welfare of residents of inland China. Concessions are areas within China that are governed by foreigners.

“Hankou, being a port city—what kind of impact did it have on the trade of inland regions? I’m interested in the relationship between the two and the gains from trade in an open-trade regime,” Yue says.

She also hopes to investigate the influence of Friedrich Hayek on China. At least one Chinese student was directly under Hayek’s supervision at the London School of Economics. “I want to find more connections between Hayek and other Chinese scholars. I know that some scholars were influenced by Hayek’s thought during the Economic Reform and Open Up period that began in the late 1970s.”

Yue lived in Chicago for a year before coming to Duke and says she can appreciate being far away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. “Here, I can really concentrate. It’s an ideal place to do research.”

Yue, who is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in the School of Business Administration at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, will finish her fellowship at the Center this April.