LRCCS faculty member Yuen Yuen Ang on why China's 'McDonald's model' of development could help poor countries - but Beijing may be drawing the wrong conclusions
"China’s success in lifting 700 million people out of poverty could provide a model for other developing countries, according to a US-based academic who has warned against switching to a top-down model.
Yuen Yuen Ang said the success of the campaign was down to innovative local level bureaucrats who, from the 1970s onwards, had been operating within a “franchise” system – similar to the McDonald’s business model.
Under such a model, the central government sets out guidelines at its headquarters but local bureaucrats are free to test their own policies in different areas in the same way that franchise branch managers can try different menus in different markets.
The policy transformed the country, transforming it from an economic backwater to the world’s second-largest economy.
But Ang, a Singapore native whose book How China Escaped the Poverty Trap was first published in 2016 – a Chinese-language version comes out next month – questioned whether China’s leadership had really understood why the system had been so successful and cautioned against President Xi Jinping’s centralised approach – a process that had yet to be proven successful."