I listened to this video last night. I think you will find it interesting. In it Khalid Malik also mentions that US university experts on China appear to be clueless. He found this out after he talked to them about China to learn about China before he moved to China for UNDP and that is one reason why he wrote the book!
I was disappointed that only Saeed Afridi mentioned role of local govts and even then it was very superficial; yet Nadeem kept on asking what Pakistan and other countries can learn from China? Local governments are key. Also not mentioned role of Singapore in guiding China and diaspora's FDI (which has been  majority of FDI in China), which is also why role of WB and UNDP was of bit players at best! Singapore was pivotal source of guidance and it also educated Chinese administrators! Through Singapore one can even say China was second successful advisee of Albert Winsemius. Both of these successful advisees started with lots of room for improvement but had the quality leadership capable of making them.
Pakistan’s local governments are weak; as are those in India and Bangladesh because they carry the British legacy of fragmented agencies and intrusive role of the  state/province.

 The result is increasing inability to cope best described by this article by Ramesh Ramanathan.

Urban services: Too many cooks

There is no overlap between the administrative jurisdictions of various city agencies, or congruence with political boundaries. The result: the citizen is confused, the local politician is confused, the agency representatives are confused. Ramesh Ramanathan calls for a transformation of this chaotic situation.

New York City also is burdened by this structure. This is why the Business Improvement Districts made transformational improvements; but the city govt couldn’t, why there’s visible inequality within the city with only select parts of Manhattan appearing to get the attention (i.e. funds do not filter down) and why even dysfunctional London which doesn’t even have jurisdiction over its financial center has been better off.

China and France are the two countries that understood local structure affects the economy. Now in UK there is some belated recognition which is also reflected in creation of the combined authorities and the speech by Chief Economist of the Bank of England “Is All Economics Local?” However, the British remain clueless about how to go about correcting the problem. They cannot even get structure right as revealed by the error made in 19th century when adopting French approach (which was also inherited by British India) which has hindered ability to modernize government in the 20th and 21st centuries. They also made a mess of London governance structure in its 20th century upgrade by reducing its integration level. The result is it is less competitive than Paris and Amsterdam despite having much larger population and territory.

Besides lack of discussion of role of local governments in the webinar, also missing was key role of diaspora and of Singapore.  See:


This is also why UNDP and World Bank were bit players at best!:



Cumulative inward FDI from 1979 to 2000 equalled a third of the GDP in the latter year — over half this money came from Hong Kong alone, and over three quarters from East Asia, mostly from diaspora Chinese.

The foreign-invested export sector played a key role in shifting China’s economic position within the region. China went from a net capital importer with wages half the ASEAN average, to an economy that today has wage levels twice the ASEAN average, and is the largest growth source of regional FDI.

The importance of inbound FDI to China has dropped over the past two decades, with the foreign share of investment falling from 12 per cent in 1996 to 1 per cent in 2014. Yet nearly three quarters of this money still comes from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, with Taiwanese companies dominating China’s export production. As FDI into China from non-diaspora sources has grown, Hong Kong and Singapore have become intermediary hubs, leveraging their British-derived legal systems and separation from mainland Chinese jurisdiction.

As China’s economy evolves, the diaspora’s interactions with it are adapting. 

Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei are now key to China’s ability to internationalise its currency while continuing to shelter its economy behind capital account controls, an importance that is likely to increase given uncertainty over London’s role post-Brexit. Singapore’s government and private firms are substantially involved in China’s push for more sustainable and sophisticated development, for example through the Tianjin Eco-City project and the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative.

Southeast Asia’s ethnic Chinese, who still dominate the private sector of every ASEAN country, are significant investors in China and middlemen for other actors’ business. For instance, an estimated 90 per cent of Indonesia’s commerce with China involves Chinese-Indonesians, despite being concentrated in sectors — infrastructure and natural resources — in which they are not major owners.

Another factor that is hard to quantify, but which some argue that China seeks to leverage, is the effect on opinion towards China of the high degree of Chinese ancestry in some ASEAN countries, particularly among elites. The most prominent example is Thailand’s royal family, but this legacy can manifest in some surprising ways.

Today the diaspora is increasingly augmented by first-generation migrants from the PRC, and China itself is moving towards a more knowledge intensive economy with ever denser cross-border interactions.

The Chinese diaspora’s role in the rise of China

Inside The Sinosphere: China's New "Diaspora" Economy


 Singapore was a pivotal source of guidance and it also educated Chinese administrators! Through Singapore one can even say China was second successful advisee of Albert Winsemius.


"Mr Deng and Mr Lee developed a strong relationship of mutual respect and mutual trust. Mr Lee decided that Singapore would support China's paradigm shift from a centrally planned economy to a market economy with Chinese characteristics. Mr Deng and his successors had frequently asked Mr Lee for his advice. Mr Lee would visit China almost every year and was sincere in his advice.



When Mr Deng started China on the journey of reform and opening up to the world, he needed role models. For inspiration, he looked to South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and, especially, Singapore. ...Mr Deng's endorsement of Singapore led to a flood of requests from China. In 1992 alone, Singapore hosted the visit of more than 500 delegations from China...A second contribution which Singapore has made to China is the transfer of knowledge, expertise and experience. Singapore's pioneer finance minister, Dr Goh Keng Swee, served as China's economic adviser. Dr Goh did for China what the Dutch expert, Dr Albert Winsemius, had done for Singapore.

Singapore has been extremely generous in sharing its experience with Chinese leaders and cadres. Both the Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore have customised special Chinese language courses for Chinese officials. The Civil Service College Singapore has also collaborated with China's Central Party School in education and training. In his speech at Nankai University, in 2015, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said that in total, Singapore has provided training to 50,000 Chinese officials and cadres..."



Article also notes: "This contribution is unique and priceless. Speaking at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on April 17, 2010, China's Vice-President Li Yuanchao said: "Out of all the destinations where we send our leading officials to receive training, Singapore is our top choice because Singapore is the most sincere in helping China develop, due to our longstanding warm relationship."...LARGEST INVESTOR
A third contribution by Singapore is to invest in the Chinese economy. Since 2013, Singapore has become the largest investor in China. Singapore's investment in China is also unique. Let me explain.

Singapore investments fall into three categories.

The first category consists of investments made by Singapore's private sector for purely commercial reasons.

The second category consists of investments made by the private sector in projects which have the backing of the two governments. Two examples are the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City and the Singapore-Chengdu High-Tech Park.

The third category consists of very large government-to-government projects, such as the Suzhou Industrial Park, the Tianjin Eco-City and the Chongqing Connectivity Project. These iconic projects are not only intended to advance the shared economic interests of the two countries but also to transfer Singapore's software to China. They are also intended to nurture a growing circle of Chinese and Singaporeans who understand each other and are capable of working harmoniously together."

Singapore's friendship with China


"Reputed to be one of the main engineers of Singapore’s economic growth, Dr Goh Keng Swee had also played an important role in China’s economic development in the 1980s and 1990s. Dr Goh was appointed by the Chinese government to be an economic adviser to the coastal areas of China in June 1985. Dr Goh’s main task was to study and make recommendations to the development of China’s coastal economic zones."

Goh Keng Swee on China

  The message from Singapore and China is to go to the source for guidance not the World bank or UNDP!

 I think because Singapore and Hong Kong (another major investor) are city states, Chinese realized how city -led development could speed up development In the 1980s,  when EU was also supporting metropolitan governance (influenced by the success of France).

 China has accomplished at far greater scale than what was achieved in Singapore. Policy of experimentation improved results and metropolitan governance created many Singapore's; but with decentralization the improvement was speedy..

 "the key to China’s success has been constant experimentation"

Why experimentation is the key to China’s success

Policy Experimentation in China’s Economic Rise

 Interview of Alain Bertaud revealed Chinese established metropolitan governance by noticing emerging  patterns


"One example, strangely enough, of this kind of pragmatic management is how the Chinese supported the development of the Pearl River Delta. They abandoned their monocentric way of thinking and started thinking in terms of clusters. These clusters had developed by themselves, spontaneously, as a result of the growth of high-tech and export industries. The Chinese essentially said, “This is fine; this is a new form of urbanism and we are going to support it.” Now 65 million people live in the Pearl River Delta, and urban planners are helping to support regional integration."

  China's use of metropolitan governance has been exceptionally outstanding.

 First Chinese established vertically integrated metropolitan governance on an epic scale; and established these metropolitan systems most speedily. Now they are moving to another stage of metropolitan governance-i.e. horizontal collaboration. The regions in the east shared knowledge, guidance and even investments with other regions so other areas developed speedily also. The result even western regions have started to boom, although still not as developed as in the east yet.

The French and Chinese forms of metropolitan governance have converged. They both have vertical and horizontal systems. France embarked on modernoizing governance from the 1950s in response to what was revealed in the book “Paris and the French Desert.” Like France, in China local governments maintain their powers of self government while in an integrated system and this helps the whole system be productive. For example, the so called "richest village in China," Huaxi (about which an Indian journalist also wrote an article),  is actually part of an urban system. It is contained within Jiangyin (a county level city), which is contained within Wuxi (a prefecture level city).

 I will soon be releasing an article about metropolitan governance. Among the issues discussed is the structural advantage problem (one  local govt's advantage is at detriment of rest-which is also what happened in France); and fact that metropolitan governance must evolve to prevent settling in the breach of adverse/counterproductive elements. Only France and China have understood this issue and acted to remedy it so far. And France actually needs to continue; but Macron  is not doing anything perhaps because he has no local governance experience. France is only EU nation where local reps are often in national govt; and I think this is why it has been so proactive because local reps inform national govts. In China, reps from provinces also come up to national govt and keep it informed. The attached HSBC report mentions how reps from Jiangsu moved to national govt. Jiangsu has balanced both rural and urban regions. It is has great cities;  but also more of the richest villages in China!