China's Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption


LAPP distinguished lecture - China's Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption 

Why has China grown so fast for so long despite vast corruption? In China’s Gilded Age (2020, Cambridge University Press), Yuen Yuen Ang unpacks the different harm caused by different types of corruption, and challenges the assumption that all corruption impedes growth. She unbundles corruption into four varieties: petty theft, grand theft, speed money, and access money. While the first three types impede growth, access money—elite exchanges of power and profit—cuts both ways: it stimulates investment and growth but produces serious risks for the economy and political system. Since market opening, corruption in China has evolved toward access money. The book explains the evolution of Chinese corruption and how it differs from the West and other developing countries. By unbundling corruption and adopting a comparative-historical lens, she reveals that the rise of capitalism was not accompanied by the eradication of corruption, but rather by its evolution from thuggery and theft to access money. 

- Book review of China's Gilded Age in The Economist, by David Rennie (link

- Author's interview in The Wire China (link)

*This webinar is jointly organised by HKUST Leadership And Public Policy Executive Education Program (LAPP) and Institute for Emerging Market Studies (IEMS).  Any further updates about the event will be first posted on the LAPP website

The webinar will be moderated by Prof Donald Low (HKUST). 

About the Speaker

Yuen Yuen Ang is a professor of political science and China expert at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  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 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 EconomistThe Wire China and The Diplomat.  A frequently invited speaker, she has spoken at over 100 venues and high-level dialogues around the world. Her talk “How the West and Beijing Got China Wrong” has been viewed more than 160,000 times on Youtube. Professor Ang is profiled in The New York Times, CGTN’s Visionaries, Jiemian (界面), CNPolitics (政见), Pengpai (澎湃), Initium Media (端传媒). 

To Attend the Conference

Register here. Registration closes at 1 day before the event.   We may not be able to entertain late registration and walk-in.  Thank you for your understading.  

The Zoom webinar details will be provided by email. 

Please see here for advice from the university's IT office on Zoom best practices for attendees.  

If you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact LAPP at



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