Singapore exemplifies what China strives for: resilient authoritarianism in a modern economy with good governance and political stability. Despite its tiny size, China remains obsessed with Singapore, which is the only country in East Asia to have achieved advanced industrialization without undergoing substantial liberalization. Singapore’s leaders have carefully codified their national model and taught it to thousands of Chinese government officials eager to learn its secrets.
Mark R. Thompson is head of the Department of Asian and International Studies (AIS), and director of the Southeast Asia Research Centre (SEARC), both at the City University of Hong Kong. He has previously held positions in Germany (Erlangen-Nuernberg, and Dresden) and the United Kingdom (Glasgow). He was Lee Kong Chian distinguished scholar of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore and Stanford University as well as a visiting professor at Kyoto University and Passau University. A Rotary Foundation scholar at the University of the Philippines in 1984–1985, he was visiting fellow at the Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo de Manila University 1986–1987 and completed his Ph.D. in 1991 in political science at Yale University with Juan J. Linz and James C. Scott as supervisors with his dissertation later published as The Anti-Marcos Struggle (Yale 1995). He is also the author of Democratic Revolutions (Routledge, 2004), co-editor of Dynasties and Female Political Leaders in Asia (2013), and the author of a number of journal articles on Asian politics, most recently “Democracy with Asian Characteristics,” Journal of Asian Studies, 74, no. 4 (November 2015) and, together with Stephan Ortmann, “China’s ‘Singapore Model’ and its Limits,” Journal of Democracy, 27, no. 1 (January 2016). He is currently completing a co-authored book manuscript about the Philippine presidency.