Asia Global Institute
The EAST Rises – Again: Lessons for Today from China's Past Technological Development

The EAST Rises – Again: Lessons for Today from China's Past Technological Development

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Heiwai Tang, Yasheng Huang

AGI Public Policy Seminar Series

Enquiry: T: +852 3917 1297 | E: agimail@hku.hk

Information

The AGI Public Policy Webinar Series features leading academics and scholars from universities and think tanks around the world presenting current research on global public-policy issues and discussing their significance and implications for Asia and the world. All are welcome.

Abstract

Watch the replay here

Key takeaways: 

  • Four factors have shaped China’s historical development: examination, autocracy, stability and technology (EAST). China’s civil service exam, autocracy, stability and uneven technological development cycles explain how it has developed distinctly from Western societies.

  • Innovation occurs in China today, evidenced by strides taken in facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence, but development is driven by the state rather than the private sector. China’s predisposition for stability above all else has contributed to its historical technological stagnation relative to the West.

  • Chinese universities nurture scientific talents but fall behind in producing scientific knowledge – the most widely cited papers are often coauthored with foreign scientists. Given the difficult relationship between China and the US, this raises the question of whether the US should continue to train Chinese students.

  •  Looking ahead, China should seek not to emulate the development path of the US, but rather Asian democratic states as South Korea and Japan, which share similar predispositions for stability but have democratic governance systems which spur innovation.
About the Speakers

Director, Asia Global Institute

Heiwai Tang

Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management and Professor of Global Economics and Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

Yasheng Huang

Notes

Four factors have shaped China’s development throughout history: examination, autocracy, stability and technology (EAST). In this inaugural AGI Public Policy Webinar, Professor Yasheng Huang of MIT will present findings on the history of Chinese technological development from its Spring and Autumn Eras (over 700 years before the first millennium) to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. He will draw lessons for the applicability of the EAST formula today in understanding China's re-emergence and its impact on Asia and the world.

The presentation will be followed by a discussion and Q&A session moderated by Professor Heiwai Tang of the University of Hong Kong.

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