China's Path from Poverty to the Gilded Age

Key information

5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Online via Zoom

About this event

Over the last four decades, China has undergone a great transformation - from impoverishment to a Gilded Age of rapid growth paired with corruption and inequality.  What lessons of development should the world learn from this mixed outcome?

Drawing from her books, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (2016) and China's Gilded Age (2020), Professor Yuen Yuen Ang underscores three lessons. (1) Learn from both China's successes and failures: In China, the past success of industrial capitalism under a collective leadership laid the seeds for its problems today, including corruption, inequality, and political fragmentation. (2) Don't learn the wrong lessons: China's success does not prove that autocracy is superior to democracy in performance; rather, it reminds us that autocracies must temper its worst tendencies in order to perform. (3) Adapt the right national lessons to different national contexts, rather than blindly emulating and copying. Professor Ang stresses that these lessons apply to China's rise as much as they apply to lessons we've drawn, correctly and incorrectly, from the rise of the West.   

About the speaker

Yuen Yuen Ang is the Alfred Chandler Chair of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of two award-winning books How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (2016) and China's Gilded Age (2020), both of which were featured in The Economist's reading lists.  In 2021 she is named by Apolitical among the world's 100 Most Influential Academics in Government for "research that resonates with policymakers." Foreign Affairs named her writing among the "Best of Books" and "Best of Print." She has been profiled in English and Chinese outlets, including CGTN's VisionariesFreakonomics RadioThe New York TimesDushuJiemianPengpai, among others. 


This online seminar will take place online via Zoom. Complete this form to register.

Recommended reading and listening

These articles written by Professor Ang provide a summary of her two books:

Foreign Affairs - China's Gilded Age

PDF document, 2.53MB

Foreign Affairs - Beijing's behind the scenes reforms

PDF document, 1.12MB

Noema magazine: The Clash Of Two Gilded Ages

Podcast interview: There’s Been a Revolution in How China Is Governed

Chair: Dr Huan Zou, School of Finance and Management, SOAS University of London.

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

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