Made in China 2025: avoiding the middle-income trap

This panel discusses the challenges that China faces in avoiding the ‘middle-income trap’ of development and how this aims to be avoided through the ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial strategy.

While not officially referred to within the Chinese Communist Party, the ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial strategy aims to transform China away from being the "world's factory", and transition into producing higher-value products and services. The Chinese government also recognises the dangers of finding their country stuck within the ‘middle-income trap’ of development. Thus, China will need boost innovation, develop their research and develop and upgrade their domestic industries within the global value chain. China’s ambitious industrial strategy aims to achieve this.

However, how will other countries react, given the strategy's impact on international trade and commerce? What is behind the growing irritation of Western countries regarding China’s industrial policy? And how likely is it that China will become a global manufacturing, cyber, science and technology innovation superpower by 2025? Kent Deng will discuss and debate these questions and challenges with leading economists and professors who specialise in the Chinese economy. The event will conclude with a Q&A from the audience.

Listen to the podcast: Made in China 2025

Event recorded Monday 2 March.


Gidon Gautel is Project Coordinator for China Foresight, based at LSE IDEAS. He is a current MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management Student at Imperial College London Business School. Gidon holds a BSc in Government & Economics from LSE, and has studied Mandarin & Business Chinese at Tsinghua University.

John Hawksworth is an economist who specialises in macroeconomics and public policy issues. He is Chief Economist in PwC’s UK firm and editor of their Economic Outlook and World in 2050 reports. He has played a leading role in PwC's economic research on global megatrends, labour markets, housing, the impact of AI and automation, Brexit, pensions and ageing populations, good growth for cities and the public finances. He has carried out economic consultancy assignments for a wide range of public and private sector organisations over the past 30 years in both the UK and overseas. 

Xin Sun is Lecturer in Chinese and East Asian Business at King’s College London. He received his PhD in political science from Northwestern University in 2014. Prior to joining King’s, he held academic positions at the University of Oxford and Trinity College Dublin. Dr Sun’s research interests focus on political economy and government-business relations in China. He is particularly interested in the interplay between formal and informal institutions in authoritarian regimes and how the two types of institutions jointly shape economic and policy outcomes as well as business behaviour. His current research project examines how Chinese political elites use land to serve purposes related to their political interests, and how such politicized land-use behaviour shapes the development of property-rights institutions and land and real-estate markets.

Alan Wheatley is an economics writer and editor based in London. He is an Associate Fellow in the Global Economy and Finance Programme at Chatham House. He is a former global economics correspondent for Reuters. In the course of a 33-year career with the news agency, he reported from more than 40 countries and had postings in London, Frankfurt, Paris, New York, Washington, Tokyo, Singapore and Beijing. He attended many IMF, G7 and EU summits and reported on landmark economic events including the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s; the collapse of Continental Illinois bank; the 1985 Plaza Accord; the 1987 Wall Street crash; negotiations to create the euro; Japan’s struggle to defeat deflation; the meteoric rise of China; and the euro zone crisis.

Kent Deng is a professor of Economic History in the Department of Economic History at the LSE. Kent Deng is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Kent Deng's research interests and writing includes the rise of the literati in the economic life of pre-modern China; the maritime economic history of pre-modern China; the economic role of the Chinese peasantry. Other key topics in his work are the developmental deadlock of the Chinese premodern economy; long-term demography of premodern China; early modern railway development in China; Chinese fiscal state and its impact on the economy. His recent publications include "Mapping China's Growth and Development in the Long Run, 221 BC to 2020" and "China's political economy in modern times: changes and economic consequences, 1800-2000”.

Event hashtag: #LSEChina

This event is co-organised through LSE IDEAS’ continued collaboration with the LSESU China Development Society.

LSE IDEAS (@lseideas) is LSE's foreign policy think tank. We connect academic knowledge of diplomacy and strategy with the people who use it.