New Zealand researcher shares insights on China's development

Wan Lixin Zhang Chaoyan
Jason Andrew Young is the director of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre. He shared some of his insight on China's economic and infrastructural development.
Wan Lixin Zhang Chaoyan

On the sidelines of the World Conference on China Studies · Shanghai Forum, Shanghai Daily conducted an exclusive interview with Jason Andrew Young, director of New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre, on a number of issues relating to his inquiry.

Shot by Yu Wenhao. Edited by Yu Wenhao. Reported by Zhang Chaoyan. Subtitles by Yu Wenhao, Wan Lixin.

New Zealand researcher shares insights on China's development
Yu Wenhao / SHINE

Jason Andrew Young is director of New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre.

Q: Can you tell us why you're interested in Chinese studies?

A: Sure, so I've been studying China for a while, but not as long as many people, and I guess the thing that I've always enjoyed about studying China is that it's very interesting. There's a lot of puzzles, particularly for someone who comes from a very small country, with a very small population. Coming to China is so different.

It's just a really intellectually stimulating and fascinating place to study.

Q: Do you think the China you've experienced is any different from what you initially read about it?

A: I think people have done a good job trying to depict China, but for any academic or anyone working on a particular issue, there's nothing that beats face-to-face communication, not just the nuts and bolts of a problem, but also having a feeling for how that makes people feel it, and how people are reacting to it.

Q: Could you say something about your impressions on Shanghai?

A: So I've been to Shanghai a few times. The thing I really like about Shanghai is one of the speakers was mentioning today that it really is an international city, a gateway city. And the people are really nice.

There are fantastic universities in Shanghai, and great China studies communities.

It's a great place to meet, and it has great facilities for having conversations.

Q: What do you think of this conference?

A:I think that the previous forums have been also very interesting. I'm particularly interested in this year's theme. I have a real interest in trying to understand more about China's approach toward global governance, so this has been really helpful for trying to understand more about that.

Q: Can you share some of your thoughts about China's development model?

A: I think that there are many reasons and many factors in the way that the Chinese economy grew and developed, and it's been a real success story for China over the years. I also think it's really good for other countries around the world to see how China has developed so rapidly. I guess some of the features of China's development model are transferable, and some of them aren't.

And I think for China now, I guess one of the key questions is, can it also continue to invest heavily in social welfare, particularly with an aging population and changing population dynamics?

Now, focusing on innovation and focusing on new Chinese companies, I think that the world is watching, and a lot of countries around the world have invested a lot in the success of the Chinese economy. So we all want to see China succeed and continue to be an open economy.

Q: As a China studies expert from New Zealand, what do you think are the differences and similarities in terms of ways of development?

A: I guess the first key is the size. New Zealand is a country of 5 million people, which is one-sixth of the size of Shanghai. So it's a very small economy. China is a very, very large country, so there is more complicated and comprehensive economics.

I think the engagement between New Zealand and China is a really good example of two very different countries trying to work together, creating all different types of platforms where we can exchange ideas and economic transition.

Q: How do you see the role of China's development model in contributing to global governance?

A: I think some of the insights from China's development model is an important reminder that some of the requirements, and some of the most important things to do when a country is developing, is to focus on good infrastructure, investment in human capital, remaining open with the global economy, and investing in future development, trying to find a comparative advantage.

I think China, both as a developed large economy and developing country, has a lot to offer in the discussions about how we, as a world, can have better overall development outcomes.

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