These days, the term “China model” is fraught with controversy. Most observers assume that the China model equates autocracy, and that learning from this model, therefore, means to embrace authoritarianism. Yuen Yuen Ang reveals that this is a fundamental misconception—it is not autocracy but rather the injection of democratic and adaptive qualities into a single-party system that drives China’s economic dynamism. Equally important, she stresses, learning is not copying. While other developing countries should learn from China’s rich development experiences, they should not copy Chinese practices, just as they should not blindly import Western practices. Professor Ang will reflect upon the misunderstandings surrounding the China model, why it’s important to rationalise this conversation, and the challenges of doing so in a “new cold war” era of polarisation and paranoia.
- YY Ang. “The Real China Model: It’s Not What You Think It is,” Foreign Affairs, June 29, 2018. | Link (paywall-free)
- “Needed for China’s Belt and Road: a Roadmap” Bloomberg, September 28, 2018 | Link
- United Nations—Cambodia, Website for public lecture by Ang, “The Real China Model: What Other Developing Countries Should Learn from China” | Link
About the Speaker
Yuen Yuen Ang is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, specialising in international development and China’s political economy. Her research examines strategies for enabling innovation and adaptive capacity in non-wealthy-democracies. In 2018, she was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow for “high-calibre scholarship that applies fresh perspectives to some of the most pressing issues of our times.” She is the author of a prize-winning book, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap, which won the Peter Katzenstein Prize in Political Economy, the Viviana Zelizer Prize in Economic Sociology, and was named “Best of Books 2017” by Foreign Affairs. Her research is supported by grants and awards from the Smith Richardson Foundation, Gates Foundation, IBM Centre for the Business of Government, and American Council of Learned Societies. She is an advisory board member of Cambridge University Press’ Elements Series on “The Politics of Growth.”
A frequently invited speaker, Professor Ang has delivered talks at over 100 academic, global development, foreign policy, and corporate venues around the world, including the United Nations, World Bank, China’s State Council, UK Department of International Development, Harvard Kennedy School, and Princeton’s Initiative on Complexity. Her op-eds appear in Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, The International Economy, World Bank Governance Blog, UNDP Transformation Series, among others. In greater China, her research is featured in major outlets like Xinhua, Pengpai, Jiemian, South China Morning Post. As a senior consultant to the United Nations, she advises on innovation, sustainable development, and Chinese investments in Cambodia. She also teaches courses on global communication to Chinese banks and companies venturing abroad. A core theme of Ang’s public engagement is dispelling misconceptions about the China model, both beyond and within China. Professor Ang is Singaporean and graduated from Colorado College and Stanford University.