Yukon Huang, the China economy contrarian


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Yukon Huang of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discusses how both bears and bulls get the whole picture of China’s economy wrong, and what the real issues are with corruption, debt, unbalanced development, innovation, and more.

Yukon Huang thinks that China’s economy is extremely unconventional. Unsurprisingly, then, that nearly all the conventional economic wisdom we hear about this economy — particularly the two hugely popular poles of opinion that treat it as either an unstoppable force or a crisis-in-waiting — is wrong.

So goes the contrarian take of the former World Bank Director for China and Russia, who is now Senior Fellow in the Asia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Huang detailed his thoughts on China’s economy is his most recent book, Cracking the China Conundrum: Why Conventional Economic Wisdom Is Wrong.

‘Cracking the China Conundrum’ makes bold claims about the nature of China’s economic reality

He sat down with Jeremy and Kaiser at SupChina’s NEXT CHINA Conference on January 17, and in this live podcast, answered provocative questions and defended surprising statements:

  • “Why is it that people think China’s unbalanced growth is a risk, when it actually is a positive development?”
  • “Why do people think [China] has a debt problem, when actually it’s a sign of financial deepening?”
  • “Why is it that corruption is seen as an impediment to growth, when in China actually it’s been a booster to growth?”
  • “We assume that the more innovative you are as a country, the faster you grow, when actually it’s the opposite.”


Jeremy: The China Questions: Critical Insights into a Rising Power, a fantastic collection of essays by scholars at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, edited by Jennifer Rudolph and Michael Szonyi. And radiooooo.com, a site you should definitely check out if you are a music lover.

Yukon: The recent movie Hidden Figures, about black women mathematicians who worked for NASA in the 1960s.

Kaiser: A two-part documentary on Channel NewsAsia called China on Film, a collection of the earliest footage ever shot in China, dating back to the last years of the Qing Dynasty.