This fall, Ross China Initiatives partnered with the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, the LSA Department of Economics, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and Ross Executive Education to host a two-day conference with over 200 attendees, which examined China’s current industrial upgrading and economic growth. The keynote speakers were leading economists Justin Yifu Lin and Shang-Jin Wei.

Justin Yifu Lin, former Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank and current Director of the Center for New Structural Economics at Peking University, presented on New Structural Economics, reviewing China’s new challenges with the middle-income trap and potential solutions. According to Lin’s presentation, the middle-income trap refers to how mobility from a middle-income to high-income country is quite rare, given that only 13 out of 110 middle-income countries have moved up to the high-income level by 2008. However, with New Structural Economics, labor productivity can be boosted by upgrading endowment structures and improving infrastructure.

Shang-Jin Wei, Chief Economist of Asian Development Bank and Professor at Columbia University, discussed how China’s recent economic growth was stimulated by embracing globalization and favorable labor demographics, but in terms of innovations, there is still a big gap between China and the U.S. and other East Asian countries. Wei’s research suggests that China’s potential transition to become an innovative country can come from lower tariffs, more export firms, and a robust relationship between wages and innovations.

Beyond the keynotes, the conference hosted a number of other esteemed economists and industry leaders who prompted thought-provoking discussions surrounding China’s changing development model and the role of industrial upgrading in promoting new sources of growth and development. Please reference the conference program for the full list of participants and presentations.