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From Sweden to Singapore: The Relevance of Foreign Models for China's Rise

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2018

Kai Yang
The Chinese University of Hong Kong. E-mail:
Stephan Ortmann*
City University of Hong Kong.
E-mail: (corresponding author).


China can be described as a “learning state” which has adapted to changing conditions and frequently turned outward for lessons. In recent years, Sweden and Singapore have drawn particularly strong interest from Chinese academics because the two countries represent two different “third ways” between Communism and capitalism and have been useful for developing a socialism “with Chinese characteristics.” Sweden is seen to symbolize the ideals of social equity and harmony while Singapore is seen as a model of authoritarian state-capitalism. China's transformation has resembled the Southeast Asia city state's model more than the Scandinavian social democratic model. Since Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012, interest in Sweden has reached a nadir, while attentiveness to Singapore has peaked. Although Chinese state-capitalism faces many challenges, including rising inequality and persistent corruption, it will be difficult to find an alternative role model that can successfully combine one-party rule with economic modernization.


中国可以被视为一个不断适应新形势的 “学习型国家”, 频繁地学习外部经验。近年来, 瑞典和新加坡都引起中国学术界的兴趣, 因为这两个国家分别代表两种区别于共产主义和资本主义的 “第三条道路”, 被认为对 “中国特色” 的社会主义具有启发意义。瑞典被认为是社会公平与和谐的典范, 而新加坡被视为威权型国家资本主义的模范。相对于斯堪的纳维亚式的社会民主模式, 中国的转型更类似于新加坡这个东南亚城市国家的模式。自从习近平 2012 年上台以来, 对瑞典的兴趣降至低点, 而对新加坡的关注则达到高潮。虽然中国的国家资本主义面临很多挑战, 包括贫富分化加剧和腐败横行, 目前很难找到一个替代的模式能像新加坡那样成功地实现一党政治下的经济现代化。

Research Article
Copyright © SOAS University of London 2018 

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