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Mis-modelling Singapore: China's Challenges in Learning from the City-state

  • Mark R. Thompson (a1) and Stephan Ortmann (a2)


Singapore exemplifies what China strives for: resilient authoritarianism despite advanced development with good governance and political stability. But lessons Chinese observers draw from the Southeast Asian city-state have been selective, leading to misconceptions. We focus on three key areas in which Chinese observers claim inspiration from the “Singapore model.” The first, Singapore's “Asian values” discourse which is seen to provide an ideological defense of non-democratic rule, overestimates the impact of top-down conservative culturalism while underestimating the difficulty of propagating Confucianism in officially still communist China. Second, while elections in Singapore are seen to bolster the ruling People Action Party's legitimacy in Singapore, they have been implemented to such a limited extent in China that any legitimation gain is unlikely. Finally, the chief lesson derived from Singapore's fight against corruption, the importance of a committed leadership, ignores the importance of the rule of law in Singapore, a legacy of colonialism very different from China's post-totalitarian trajectory.



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Mis-modelling Singapore: China's Challenges in Learning from the City-state

  • Mark R. Thompson (a1) and Stephan Ortmann (a2)


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