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Lecture: Yuen Yuen Ang on how the west got China wrong

Lecture: Yuen Yuen Ang on how the west got China wrong

Update: 2018-11-082
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Dr Yuen Yuen Ang, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan delivers the Adrian Leftwich Memorial Lecture.

For decades, Western policymakers and observers assumed that as China’s economy prospers, it will eventually and inescapably democratize. Today, however, the West is alarmed that not only does China appear more authoritarian than before, the new leadership is perceived to harbor ambitions to compete with Western powers for world dominance. This turn of events has triggered fear around the world. Today, the so-called “China model” is seen as a fundamental threat to liberal-democratic values.

How did the West get China wrong? Yuen Yuen Ang argues that many observers have misunderstood the political foundation underlying China’s rise. Her research reveals that since market opening, China has in fact pursued significant political reforms, just not in the manner that Western observers expected. Instead of introducing multiparty elections, the reformist leadership realized some of the key benefits of democratization through bureaucratic reforms, thereby creating a unique political hybrid: autocracy with democratic characteristics. In other words, it is not autocracy but rather the injection of democratic, adaptive qualities into a single-party regime that drives China’s economic dynamism. But, Ang cautions, bureaucratic reforms cannot substitute for political reforms forever. Going forward, China must release and channel the immense creative potential of civil society, which would necessitate greater freedom of expression, more public participation, and less state intervention.
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Lecture: Yuen Yuen Ang on how the west got China wrong

Lecture: Yuen Yuen Ang on how the west got China wrong

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