Yuen Yuen Ang is a political scientist and China specialist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 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 and strategies for enabling innovation in emerging markets. On China, her expertise is on the politics of development, adaptive governance, and China’s rising global role, including the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). 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.

How China Escaped the Poverty Trap is the first book to apply the lens of complexity and systems thinking to explaining China’s great transformation since 1978. It received the Peter Katzenstein Prize in Political Economy, the Viviana Zelizer Prize in Economic Sociology, and was named “Best of Books 2017″ by Foreign Affairs. Award committees describe the book as “game-changing” and “field-shifting.” It was twice reviewed by senior researchers at China’s State Council (equivalent to Prime Minister’s Office).

Professor Ang has consulted the United Nations & UNDP, governments, and companies on inclusive & sustainable development, strategies for promoting innovation, Chinese political economy and its global impact. She writes for Foreign Affairs, Project Syndicate, Wall Street Journal, and other outlets. Her essay “Autocracy with Chinese Characteristics” was selected by Foreign Affairs as Best of Print 2018. Her work is regularly featured or quoted in the media, including BBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Paper (pengpai), and news outlets across Asia and Europe. Ang has lectured at over 100 academic, public policy, and corporate venues around the world, including UK Department of International Development (DFID), United Nations, Harvard Kennedy School, Bridgewater Associates, and the Fiduciary Investors Symposium at Harvard.

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 in adverse environments creatively “use what you have” to kick-start entrepreneurship, and the subsequent institutional changes required to sustain emerging industries.

Another area 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 BRI” appears in Foreign Affairs. In Winter 2020, she teaches a new course: China’s Rising Global Role.


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 is a native of Singapore, received her higher education and is based in the United States, studies China and the Global South, and travels around the world. 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 (world’s largest institutional investors), Harvard University, 8 October 2019.