Xiaojian Li: An academic leader in economic geography

Xiaojian Li, a professor of Henan University, doctoral supervisor, academician of Eurasian Academy of Sciences. Professor Li obtained his Ph.D. in Economics at Nankai University and Australian National University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Geography at Henan University. From 1994 to 2002, he served as the dean of the Department of Geography and the dean of the School of Environment and Planning of Henan University. In 2001, he was appointed vice president of Henan University, and from 2003 to 2015 the president of Henan University of Economics and Law. From 2004 to 2018, he served as the director of the Yellow River Civilization and Sustainable Development Research Center of Henan University, a key research base of humanities and social sciences of the Ministry of Education. Professor Li was a senior visiting scholar at Oxford University in 2005.12-2006.6, a visiting professor at Stanford University in 2012.1-2012.3, and a visiting professor at Newcastle University, UK in 2015.6-2015.8. He is currently the director of the Academic Committee of Henan University of Economics and Law, vice president of the National Economic Geography Research Association, deputy editor of Economic Geography sponsored by the Chinese Geographical Society, and the chief editor of Economic Survey.

In 1997, he was awarded a special allowance by the State Council. In 1998, professor Li was named a national young and middle-aged expert with outstanding contributions. In 2000, Professor Li was appointed Zijiang Professor by East China Normal University. In 2014, he was rated as the first outstanding professional and technical talent in Henan Province by the People's Government of Henan Province. In 2017, Professor Li was elected as an academician of the International Eurasian Academy of Sciences. In April 2018, he was rated as one of the top ten most influential educational figures in Henan in the 40 years of reform and opening up.

Xiaojian Li has achieved abundant research results since his engaging in economic geography research. These research results are derived from the love of geography academic career, but also from the bits and pieces of academic research. Although he has been engaged in university management for many years, his beloved geography academic career has always been a plot that cannot be let go. On weekends and holidays, he always has to enter this world, or revisit his old feelings (original research field), or meet new friends (learn new knowledge). He also arranges a lot of time to communicate with graduate students. On weekends, the lights in his office are always on till late. Through contact with scholars from different disciplines, Xiaojian Li integrates new ideas and new methods into economic geography and explores economic geography with Chinese characteristics during the switching of disciplines.

Main research achievements and contributions:

As a leading scholar in Economic Geography in China, Professor Xiaojian Li has been teaching and researching in economic geography and regional development for almost 40 years. He has been the principle investigator for 10 projects funded by the National Natural Science Foundation (including one National Major Project) and Social Science Foundation of China, and 22 projects funded by international organizations, the Ministry of Education of China. Professor Li has been for 6 times awarded first prize of outstanding research achievements from the Ministry of Education and Henan Province. Professor Li’s team has been the first one to have the qualification to run a PhD program in Regional Economics in Henan Province, and is awarded the only key research institute of Yellow River by the Ministry of Eeducation in China. Professor Li has thus far published 325 academic papersand 26 books. His publications have been cited over 15,000 times and ranked among the most cited economic geographersin China.

His main academic contributions include:

(1) Economic geography with Chinese characteristics. Professor Li explores the theoretical framework of economic geography with Chinese characteristics from the aspects of political system, geographical environment, social culture and disciplinary background, and this has been investigated in the books New Approaches to Economic Geography: A Chinese Perspective, and Economic Geography (first edition in 1999, second in 2006, third in 2018) The latter has been used as a text by the vast majority of Chinese colleges and universities, listed as an important reference book for postgraduate examination by many colleges and research institutions, and won the first prize of national college textbooks. The book has led the development of China's higher education in economic geography since the new century.

(2) The theoretical framework of Geography of Enterprise in China. Professor Li’s doctoral dissertation starts with the spatial decision-making of companies and explains why the Australian government failed to establish growthcenters in late 1980s. Supported by four projects from National Science Foundation since 1990, Professor Li investigated various enterprises, published 60 papers and a monograph named The Theory of Corporation Geography ( first edition in 1999, second in 2002). His work has led the development of “firm geography” as a new direction of economic geography in China.

(3) Geography of Rural Households. Professor Li was appointed by Asian Development Bank in 1995 to pioneer there search on the agricultural construction project in western Henan.This allowed a survey of 332 rural house holds in 10 counties, completing a successful report for operation of ADB aided construction projects. After that, from the perspective of the interaction between farmers and their geographical environment as the starting point, Professor Li continued to focus on the theoretical issues of rural development. Supported by a large project from the National Natural Science Foundation, Professor Li’s team interviewed 4992 rural households, publishing over 100 papers and 2 books.

(4) The small-scale research of economic geography. In the small-scale research of economic geography, Professor Li’s research is gradually refined from counties, towns, villages, land-plots to site-specified (the smallest analytical scale of remote sensing images). The research not only shows the differences in economic geography on a smaller scale, but also reveals the relationships at different levels from the nesting of the spatial scale.

(5) Changes in rural settlements. With the support of 6 National Natural Science Foundations, and based on the theory of man-land relationship, his research team selected different types of areas such as the eastern plains of Henan Province, the mountainous areas, the suburbs of large cities and fast industrialized area for study cases. Under the framework of new urbanization, the trends of the development of rural settlements in the region in the past 40 years are sorted out, and the in-depth mechanism of the spatial pattern evolution of rural settlements is quantitatively analyzed. Based on the idea of harmony between man and land, the principle of settlement evolution is proposed, and the future development pattern of rural settlements is inferred.

Main published books :

Xiaojian Li. Spatial Changes of Rural Settlements in China’s Less-developed Region. Science Press, 2019.

Xiaojian Li. New Approaches to Economic Geography: A Chinese Perspective. Science Press, 2016.

Xiaojian Li, et al.Geography of Rural Households. Science Press, 2009.

Xiaojian Li, et al.Economic Geography.Higher Education Press, 1999, 2006, 2018.

Xiaojian Li.The Theory of Corporation Geography. Science Press, 1999, 2002.

(From: School of Environment and Planning)

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