China and the “Singapore Model” : perspectives from mid-level cadres and implications for transnational knowledge transfer
Date of Issue2018
School of Social Sciences
Over the past three decades, China has shown tremendous interest in the “Singapore model” through its sending of tens of thousands of cadres to Singapore for executive training and graduate education. Although this phenomenon has been studied, no attention has been drawn to the perspectives of those mid-level cadres who took part in the training and what those perspectives might imply. Utilizing a unique dataset of over 1,350 mid-level cadres graduating from the “Mayors’ Class” in Singapore from 1995 to 2016 and follow-up surveys and interviews, this article intends to fill this gap. We found that the most appealing characteristics of the “Singapore model” for these mid-level officials lay in practical governance lessons and their potential transferability rather than in ideologies. This finding challenges conventional wisdom that the most plausible rationale of China’s learning from Singapore is political. We also examine Xi Jinping’s view of Singapore and its relevance to China’s latest national agendas in building a “learning nation” and strengthening the CCP’s resilience through anticorruption and intra-party regeneration. The conclusion places the China– Singapore case within the context of the changing trend of transnational knowledge transfer in the non-Western world.
The China Quarterly
© 2018 SOAS University of London. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.