This interview was conducted by Javier Toro.
Rita Yi Man Li is an Associate Professor and Director of the Sustainable Real Estate Research Center at the Hong Kong Shue Yan University.
According to conventional thinking, high levels of democracy lead to very strong economic growth. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany, for instance, confirm that thinking. They have a very good democratic system and a very strong economy. But there are countries, like China and Singapore, that contravene this idea. They also have a very good economy, but they are often criticized by Western countries for their lack of democracy. I wanted to verify whether or not democracy is a prerequisite for economic growth.
For some countries, I would say yes. There are countries that are wealthy enough to strive for things, economically speaking, that are not just obtaining enough food, which can be achieved by deepening democracy. China and Singapore, on the other hand, have shown that democracy is one, but not the main, factor for economic development. These countries do not have a democratic government —the West do not think they do— but they do have a pretty good economy among the whole world. According to our research, democracy may play a role, but it is not significant at all. It is one factor for economic growth, but it is not the most important of all.
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