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Book description

China's rapid rise is doubtless the most significant economic and geopolitical event in the 21st century. What has led to its rise? What does it mean for the rest of the world? When will China overtake the US? Will the conflict between the two superpowers derail its further rise? Can China's development experience be emulated by other countries? These are some of the important questions addressed in this jargon-free, yet rigorous book. It debunks many popular explanations of China's rapid economic growth ranging from abundance of cheap labor, export promotion, demographic dividend, strong government, to mercantilist policies and IP theft. Taking a global comparative approach, this book demonstrates convincingly that the true differentiating factor making China grow faster than other developing countries over the past four decades is the Confucian culture of savings and education. This cultural perspective yields powerful new insights into many questions regarding China's rise.


'Professor Tian Zhu, a leading expert on China’s economy, has addressed many misunderstandings over China’s inexorable rise to a global superpower. Years of academic research and practice have enabled him to blend his deep understanding and in-depth market knowledge into a scholarly endeavor. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the causes and consequences of China’s rapid ascent. Personally, I couldn’t put the book down till the very end.'

Dipak Jain - President (European) of CEIBS and former Dean of INSEAD and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management

'Professor Tian Zhu’s book provides a penetrating analysis of the rise of the Chinese economy in a global perspective. It focuses on the role of savings and education and, further, links both to the underlying institutions and culture to present new insights. This book will benefit all who want to understand China’s past and are interested in its future.'

Yingyi Qian - Distinguished Professor and former Dean of the School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua University, and author of How Reform Worked in China

'Professor Tian Zhu's exploration of what he calls the ‘Chinese growth puzzle’ tells us a lot about how China has so far benefited from globalization, but also about the reforms that should ensure the future sustainability of this unprecedented economic performance.'

Pascal Lamy - Honorary President of Notre Europe and former Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO)

'Professor Zhu has provided one of the most comprehensive and critical appraisals of the many economic explanations of why China grows so fast. After rebutting many of them, he then offers his own - one that is more cultural than economic - which I find very convincing. The book is well researched, balanced, intelligent, and such a delight to read.'

Kim-Sau Chung - Professor of Economics, Hong Kong Baptist University

'With Catching Up to America, Professor Tian Zhu provides a very timely in-depth account of China’s economic growth. We are taken on a journey to ascertain the facts of China’s economic rise, explore its causes, and contemplate future implications. Data and a wide range of cross-country references drive the analysis and provide perspective. Tian Zhu’s comprehensive and authoritative account of China’s global ascent is eminently readable, most engaging, and suitable for all audiences.'

Carsten Holz - Professor of Economics, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

'This provocative and insightful book, packed with novel ideas and the latest findings from economics and social science research, makes the case that the Confucian culture is a fundamental factor that has induced high savings and rising education during China’s economic reforms. The rapid accumulation of physical and human capital has propelled the nation’s spectacular growth over the last four decades. The book not only presents a fascinating analysis on the rise of China but also sheds light on its future growth amid the US-China trade war, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the sentiments of deglobalization. This contribution is important and timely for understanding China in the global context.'

Dennis Tao Yang - Dale S. Coenen Professor of Business Administration and Academic Director, The Asia Initiative, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

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  • Introduction
    pp 1-12


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