Yuen Yuen Ang is a professor of political science with expertise in China. She is named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for “high-caliber scholarship that applies fresh perspectives to the most pressing issues of our times.” Professor Ang studies economic and political development, with a focus on adaptation and innovation in the face of twenty-first century disruptions. On China, her research centers on governance, the politics of development, and China’s rising global role. She is the author of a multi-award winning book, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap, and a forthcoming (May 2020) book, China’s Gilded Age: the Paradox of Economic Boom & Vast Corruption. Apart from China, she has conducted field research in Cambodia, India, Malaysia, and Nigeria.

How China Escaped the Poverty Trap is the first book to apply the lens of complexity and systems thinking to explain China’s great transformation since 1978. More fundamentally, it challenges conventional linear models in the political economy of development. A recipient of the Peter Katzenstein Prize in Political Economy and the Viviana Zelizer Prize in Economic Sociology, the book is described by award committees as “game-changing” and “field-shifting.” Foreign Affairs named it “Best of Books 2017.” It was reviewed by senior analysts at the World Bank, Oxfam, China’s State Council (Premier’s Office), and in academic outlets across disciplines, from the Journal of Economic History, Journal of Economic Literature to The China Journal.

Committed to delivering balanced, research-based insights to a broad audience, Ang has spoken at over 100 venues and high-level dialogues around the world. This includes events at Asia Society, Bridgewater Associates, Center for Global Development, Council for Foreign Relations, DFID (UK Department of International Development), UNDP (United Nations Development Program), and World Bank. She has also consulted UN/UNDP and governments on innovation, inclusive development, China’s development and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

Apart from speaking and advising, Ang writes for Foreign Affairs, Project Syndicate, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets. Foreign Affairs selected her essay “Autocracy with Chinese Characteristics” as among the Best of Print 2018. She was profiled in The New York Times (Chinese) and CGTN’s Visionaries (English). Her work is regularly mentioned or quoted by the media, including BBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Paper (pengpai), The Wall Street Journal, and outlets across Asia and Europe.

In academia, Ang actively supports multi-disciplinary publication platforms that can bridge relevance and rigor. She serves on the advisory board of Cambridge University Press’ Elements Series in the Politics of Development, and Global Perspectives, a new interdisciplinary journal addressing global issues.

Current Projects

In a book project supported by the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, Ang investigates how new markets emerge in the absence of conducive, first-world conditions throughout the Global South. In Cambodia, China, India, and Nigeria, she studies how individuals under adverse circumstances creatively “use what you have” to kick-start entrepreneurship. She distinguishes these “market-building” strategies from subsequent, formal institutional changes required to sustain markets.

Ang’s second book, China’s Gilded Age, is focused on unbundling corruption. Whereas standard indices assign one bundled corruption score to each country, Ang offers a new indicator that measures the levels of different types of corruption across 15 countries: the Unbundled Corruption Index (UCI). Currently, she is working on an expanded UCI 2.0, in collaboration with Global Integrity (For more, see her review article here.)

A third thread of Ang’s research is the impact of China’s rise on the global order and on international development. Her essay on “Demystifying China’s Belt and Road” appears in Foreign Affairs. In 2020, she teaches a new course: China’s Rising Global Role.


A native of Singapore, Ang is a graduate of Colorado College and Stanford University. Before joining Michigan, she was on the faculty of Columbia University SIPA. Ang’s experience as a cultural nomad deeply shapes her work. She grew up in Singapore, received her higher education and works in the United States, specializes in China, did research in other parts of Asia and Africa, and travels around the globe. Despite being an cultural outsider wherever she goes, she has come to appreciate a simple fact: people everywhere are fundamentally the same.

Featured Lectures 

“How the West (and Beijing) Got China Wrong,” Camden Conference, Feb 22-24, 2019.

“Beijing’s Real Achilles Heel: It’s Not the Slowing Economy,” Fiduciary Investors Symposium, Harvard University, 8 October 2019 (attended by some of world’s largest institutional investors).