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3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199

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The first lecture in the series Rising China: Past Reforms, Current Challenges, and New Directions
Presented by Yuen Yuen Ang, Alfred Chandler Chair of Political Economy, Johns Hopkins University

“Learning and Mislearning from China's Rise” 

China's rise makes the country "the biggest player in the history of the world," in the words of the late Singaporean statesman Lee Kuan Yew. Since opening markets in the 1980s, China has achieved "the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history," according to the World Bank. Developing countries have been eager to learn from China, while China—under Xi Jinping's leadership—has been just as keen to share development lessons with the world. The act of learning, however, suffers from a basic human flaw: people tend to fixate only on what the rich "did right," while ignoring problems and risks embedded in their success. When such problems blow up, awe is replaced by disillusionment. The world has undergone repeated cycles of emulation followed by rejection in our attempts to "learn" from the triumph of the West, the East Asian miracle, and China's rise today. Applying it to China, Ang proposes a different philosophy of learning, defined by three principles: (1) learn, but do not blindly emulate and copy; (2) know both the strengths and weaknesses of any given success; and (3) know what you should learn and not learn. This approach yields balanced, enduring lessons.

Yuen Yuen Ang is the Alfred Chandler Chair of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of two books, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap and China's Gilded Age, and many essays and articles on China's political economy and US-China relations. In addition to being the inaugural recipient of the Theda Skocpol Prize for “impactful contributions to the study of comparative politics,” her books have received awards across multiple social sciences: the Peter Katzenstein Prize (political economy), Viviana Zelizer Prize (economic sociology), Douglass North Award (institutional economics), Alice Amsden Award (socio-economics), and Barrington Moore Prize (honorable mention, historical sociology). Apolitical named Ang among the world's 100 Most Influential Academics in Government. She is a trustee of the Thomson-Reuters Founders Share Company, who are guardians of the trust principles governing Reuters, the world's largest international news provider. She is also an award-winning teacher. A Singaporean native, Ang is grateful for receiving a transformative liberal arts education at Colorado College and a PhD from Stanford University.

Free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Walter Krause Economics Lecture Fund and the Reed College economics department.

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