1st Edition

China's ‘Singapore Model’ and Authoritarian Learning

Edited By Stephan Ortmann, Mark R. Thompson Copyright 2020
    224 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    224 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores to what extent China has drawn lessons from Singapore, both in terms of its ruling ideology and through the policy-specific learning process. In so doing, it provides insights into the opportunities but also the challenges of this long-term learning process, focusing attention to how non-democratic regimes deal with modernization.

    The stellar line-up of international contributors, from China, Singapore, Europe, and the US, offer a variety of perspectives on Singapore as a model of "authoritarian modernism" for China. The book discusses how the small Southeast Asian city-state became a major reference point for China, how mainland observers often misunderstood the nature of Singapore’s governance and instrumentalized it to bolster the CCP’s legitimacy, and why the Singapore model appears to be in decline under Xi Jinping. The chapters also analyze policy-specific learning processes, including bilateral mechanisms of policy exchange, the Chinese "mayor’s class" in Singapore, and joint industrial projects and lessons in social welfare provision.

    The book will be of interest to academics working on Chinese politics; development in China; state society and economy in the Asia-Pacific; international relations in the Asia-Pacific; and Southeast Asian politics.

    Introduction: China’s Singapore Model and Authoritarian Learning

    Stephan Ortmann and Mark R. Thompson

    Part I Ideological Lessons

    1. The Origins of the Singapore Fever in China: 1978-1992

    Yang Kai and Stephan Ortmann

    2. Misunderstanding Singapore: China’s Challenges in Learning from the City-State

    Mark R. Thompson and Stephan Ortmann

    3. The Singapore School - Technocracy or less

    Michael D. Barr

    4. Branding China: How Beijing Seeks to Improve its National image by learning from Singapore

    Benjamin Tze Ern Ho

    Part II Policy diffusion: Improving governance

    5.  Singapore’s Role in China’s Reform Process: Sharing of Experiences under the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation Framework

    Lye Liang Fook

    6. Cadre Training and Government-to-Government Collaborations: Governance Knowledge Transfer from Singapore to China

    Wang, Ting-Yan

    7. Singapore’s Social Welfare System and Its Influence on China

    Wei Wei

    8. Learning Local Lessons from Singapore in post-1978 China

    Cao Yunhua

    9. The "Singapore Fever" in China: Policy Mobility and Mutation

    Kean Fan Lim and Niv Horesh


    Stephan Ortmann and Mark R. Thompson


    Stephan Ortmann is Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian and International Studies at the City University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Environmental Governance in Vietnam: Institutional Reforms and Failures (2017) and Politics and Change in Singapore and Hong Kong (Routledge, 2010).

    Mark R. Thompson is Head and Professor of Politics in the Department of Asian and International Studies as well as Director of the Southeast Asia Research Centre at the City University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Authoritarian Modernism in East Asia (2019) and co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of the Contemporary Philippines (2018).