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Diagnosing China's State-led Capitalism – Yasheng Huang

UPenn Center for the Study of Contemporary China

04/12/19 • 107 min

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As Chinese economic growth slows to its lowest rate in 30 years, there is rising concern (including among some Chinese scholars and officials) about the long-term viability of China's distinctive form of state-led capitalism, sometimes characterized in terms of a "China Model". Nevertheless, the Chinese government still appears committed to the approach marked by heavy state intervention in the economy that has driven China's growth since the 1990s, and especially since the global financial crisis of 2008 and then under President Xi Jinping. In this episode, Neysun Mahboubi discusses China's state-led capitalism, and the prospects for reform, with one of the foremost scholars of China's economic development, MIT political scientist Yasheng Huang, whose pathbreaking work has highlighted the contributions of private entrepreneurship to China's "economic miracle" in the 1980s, and the various costs levied by the shift away from that approach. The episode was recorded on April 27, 2018.

Yasheng Huang is Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he also serves as faculty director of action learning, and runs both China Lab and India Lab, which have provided low-cost consulting services to over 360 small and medium enterprises in those countries. He has published widely in both English and Chinese, and his book Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the State (Cambridge University Press), based on detailed archival and quantitative evidence spanning three decades of Chinese economic reform, was selected by The Economist as a best book of 2008. His current research projects include a new book on "The Nature of the Chinese State", collaboration with researchers at Tsinghua University to create a complete database of technological innovation in China, and serving as co-PI for a Walmart Foundation supported study of food safety in China. He is or has been a fellow at the Center for China in the World Economy at Tsinghua University; a research fellow at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics; a fellow at the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan; and a World Economic Forum Fellow. He also has served as a consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the OECD, and on a number of advisory and corporate boards of non-profit and for-profit organizations.

Sound engineering: Shani Aviram and Neysun Mahboubi

Music credit: "Salt" by Poppy Ackroyd, follow her at

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