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Yao Yang, of Peking University in Beijing, passed the "red caps" table as he entered Memorial Union's Tripp Commons Tuesday afternoon to give a lecture on China's economic growth. (Photos by Chris Frazee, Media Solutions, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.)

Third 'Red Cap' lecture attracts full house

Yao Yang, Dean of Peking University's National School of Development and Director of the China Center for Economic Research, offered a lecture March 24, on how party loyalty and economic performance impact the promotion of leaders in China's government. Dean Yao spoke to a full-house audience of over 200 at Memorial Union's Tripp Commons.

The event was the third in the "Red Cap Lecture Series on China & Global Economics," which was launched by Wisconsin China Initiative Board Chair Wade Fetzer in 2014 to raise the "China literacy" of the campus. (Click on the link to read about the October 2014 Red Cap lecture by Dr. Nicholas Lardy of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., and the April 2014 lecture by Dr. Stephen Roach of Yale University.)

"We don't want our students, when they are out in their careers, saying 'Well, why didn't I learn more about China when I was at Wisconsin?'" Mr. Fetzer said at the start of the lecture, wearing one of the "red caps" that are handed out at each event. "We're gradually getting the word out - this is our third speaker in the series, and this is our biggest turnout."

Dean Yao is an alum of the UW-Madison, having earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural & Applied Economics from the UW-Madison in 1996. The current chair of his home department, AAE Professor Ian Coxhead, introduced Dean Yao as a distinguished economist who helps provide perspective, comments on China today, and offers prognostications about China's future.

The lecture, "Understanding the Political Economy of China's Economic Growth," looked at the evolution of what Yao calls a "selectocracy" in today's China, which has ties to the scholar classes of imperial times but adds a new emphasis on party loyalty, economic growth and other factors.

"Performance, particularly economic performance, is an important criterion for promotion," Dean Yao explained, showing charts from his research to document how economic incentives can help compensate for the losses caused by corruption.

After the talk, Dean Yao was presented with a men's basketball "Big 10 Champions" t-shirt by student Tammy Tian, a junior and the co-founder of the student group Project Pengyou. (See photo.)

In addition to the Red Cap lecture, Dean Yao also met with faculty and graduate students (including several current PhDs at UW-Madison who graduated from his think tank at Peking University) and gave a talk to the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economic, “Competence versus Incentive: Evidence from City Officials in China.”


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Click here to learn about President Obama’s “100,000 Strong Initiative” to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China.



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