Yuen Yuen Ang is a political scientist and China expert. She is named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow for “high-caliber scholarship that applies fresh perspectives to the most pressing issues of our times.” She is also the inaugural recipient of the Theda Skocpol Prize, awarded by the American Political Science Association for “impactful empirical, theoretical and/or methodological contributions to the study of comparative politics.”
Her research and advising centers on the political economy of disruptions: how governments and organizations adapt, or fail to adapt, to radical uncertainty and novel problems, a condition that defines the twenty-first century. The keystone of her work is China’s rise – one of the greatest disruptions of our times – and its global consequences.
Professor Ang is the author of two books. Her first award-winning book, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (2016), is acclaimed as “game changing” and “field shifting.” In 2020, she released her second book, China’s Gilded Age: the Paradox of Economic Boom & Vast Corruption (2020), which was featured in The Economist, The Wire China and The Diplomat.
In addition to China, Ang has conducted field research in Cambodia, India, Malaysia, and Nigeria. She received her PhD from Stanford University.
How China Escaped the Poverty Trap is the first book to apply complexity and systems thinking to challenge conventional linear models in the political economy of development. It received the Peter Katzenstein Prize in Political Economy and the Viviana Zelizer Prize in Economic Sociology. The book has generated cross-disciplinary acclaim: in addition to being named “Best of Books 2017″ by Foreign Affairs, it was reviewed by development experts at the World Bank, Oxfam, Harvard Kennedy School, China’s State Council (Premier’s Office), and in scholarly journals in political science, economics, history, and China studies.
Her peer-reviewed articles have appeared in Nature Human Behavior, Journal of Politics, Comparative Politics, The China Quarterly. She serves on the advisory board of Cambridge University Press’ Elements Series in the Politics of Development. She is a reviewer of the World Bank’s flagship report on poverty reduction in 2020.
As an advisor and speaker, Ang aims to deliver balanced, evidence-based insights to a broad audience. She has advised policymakers on innovation, inclusive development, China’s development and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). A frequently invited speaker, she has spoken at over 100 venues and high-level dialogues around the world, including events hosted by Asia Society, Bridgewater Associates, Council on Foreign Relations, EU Chamber of Commerce, OECD, United Nations, and World Bank. She was a senior visiting fellow at RSIS (Rajaratnam School of International Studies) in Singapore. Her talk “How the West and Beijing Got China Wrong” has been viewed more than 160,000 times on Youtube.
Ang is profiled in The New York Times, The Wire China, The Diplomat, CGTN’s Visionaries, Jiemian (界面), CNPolitics (政见), and Pengpai (澎湃). Foreign Affairs selected her essay “Autocracy with Chinese Characteristics” as among the Best of Print 2018. She is regularly quoted in the media, including BBC, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and outlets across Asia and Europe.
Ang’s recent articles shed light on the global impact of China’s rise from multiple dimensions. They include the myth of the US-China tech race (Project Syndicate), why global confusion arose around China’s Belt and Road Initiative (Foreign Affairs), and China’s success and failure in handling the COVID-19 pandemic (Nature Human Behavior).
Her new book project takes her argument in How China Escaped the Poverty Trap across the Global South, including Cambodia, India, and Nigeria. Supported by the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, she investigates how new markets emerge under adverse conditions, and what it takes to sustain them.
A citizen 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 (see Duncan Green’s blog on bicultural scholars). She grew up in Singapore, was trained and works in the United States, specializes in China, studies 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.
“How the West (and Beijing) Got China Wrong,” Camden Conference, Feb 22-24, 2019; organized by local volunteers and members of civil society.
“China’s Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Growth and Vast Corruption,” Book Webinar delivered at the UC San Diego China Center, 1 June 2020.
Lecture on “Beijing’s Real Achilles Heel: It’s Not the Slowing Economy,” Fiduciary Investors Symposium, Harvard University, 8 October 2019; attended by many of the world’s largest institutional investors.