Woo Wing Thye (胡永泰)
Distinguished Professor, University of California at Davis, USA
Professor, Sunway University, Malaysia
  • President, Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia (JCI)
  • Director, Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development (JSC)

Wing Thye Woo is Co-Chair of the SDSN Southeast Asian Regional Leadership Council. He holds academic appointments at University of California at Davis, Sunway University, Columbia University, Fudan University, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Penang Institute. His current research focuses on macroeconomic management of open economies (e.g. exchange rate policy and financial sector regulation); and on the growth challenges of the East Asian economies, particularly, China, Indonesia and Malaysia (e.g. the middle-income trap, and the Sustainable Development Goals).

Wing was a consultant to the comprehensive tax and exchange rate reforms implemented by China in January 1994 (Fiscal Management and Economic Reform in the People’s Republic of China, Oxford University Press, 1995). From 1994-96, he led an international team (which included Leszek Balcerowicz, Boris Fedorov, Fan Gang and Jeffrey D. Sachs) to study the reform experiences of centrally-planned economies (Economies in Transition: Comparing Asia and Europe, MIT Press, 1997). During 1997-1998, Wing served as a special advisor to the U.S. Treasury; and he headed the World Economic Forum project to analyse the Asian financial crisis (The Asian Financial Crisis: Lessons for a Resilient Asia, MIT Press, 2000). From 2002-2005, Wing was the Special Advisor for East Asian Economies in the Millennium Project of the United Nations; and in July 2005, he was appointed to the International Advisory Panel to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi of Malaysia. In 2012-2015, Wing headed a study at the Earth Institute of Columbia University on the reform of the global monetary system (A New Global Reserve System for a Transformed Global Economy, and the Design of the East Asian Component, MIT Press, forthcoming).

Wing was President of the Chinese Economists Association of North America (CEANA) in 2001-2002, and was President of the Chinese Economists Society (CES) in 2015-2016. In 2004, the University of California at Davis awarded him its Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award; in 2006, he was appointed a Chang Jiang Professor by the Ministry of Education of China; in 2009, the Governor of Penang conferred on him the knighthood of Dato-ship; and in 2016, he was appointed a National Distinguished Expert under the Thousand Talents Program of China.

Wing was born in 1954 in George Town, Penang; where he was a member of the 2nd. Georgetown (S) Senior Scout Troop, out of Methodist Boys’ School. He studied Economics at Swarthmore College, Yale University, and Harvard University.

More from the President

News & Articles

China’s Growth and Implications for SEA

With G7 economies in the doldrums since 2008, the roller coaster behavior of global commodity markets in the 2010- 2015 period is testimony of the huge impact that China’s economy now has on the prosperity of many countries, especially in Southeast Asia.

ASEAN Integration Can Keep Region Above...

Many features of the US–Soviet cold war are present in contemporary US–China relations: ideological competition, struggles over the control of natural resources, and old-fashioned rivalry for leadership of the global community.

Economist: NEP has outlived its relevance...

Malaysia was only meant to use the New Economic Policy (NEP) for two decades as an emergency measure and now has to shift to helping the poorest citizens regardless their ethnicity, economist Prof Datuk Dr Woo Wing Thye has said.

A New Playbook for China and ASEAN

The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea is a watershed moment for international law and an unmistakable warning to China about its strategic assertiveness in Southeast Asia. China says that it does not recognize the PCA ruling; but that doesn’t mean it is undisturbed by it.

Can China lay its zombie firms to rest?

2016 began with international media attention drawn to the weakness of China’s economy. This prediction was validated on 9 May 2016 when thePeople’s Daily ran on its front page an article written by President Xi Jinping that expounded on the need for ‘supply-side structural reform’.

The Demand-Side Supplement to Supply-Side Structural Reform: Termination of the Soft-Budget Constraint

The Demand-Side Supplement to Supply-Side Structural Reform: Termination of the Soft-Budget Constraint,” in Ross Garnaut, Ligang Song, Fang Cai and Lauren Johnston,  (editors), China’s New Sources of Economic Growth: Reform, Resources and Climate Change, ANU Press, Canberra, 2016, pp. 139-158.

The Shifting Global Economic and Political Landscape: Integration or Fragmentation

IMF-CASS Dialogue on “The Shifting Global Economic and Political Landscape: Integration or Fragmentation,” with David Lipton, Ian Bremmer, Wing Thye Woo Minghao Zhao, and Yanqing Yang, Beijing, 22 November 2016.

Zombie Firms and the Crowding-Out of Private Investment in China

Zombie Firms and the Crowding-Out of Private Investment in China,” (with Yuyan Tan and Yiping Huang), Asian Economic Papers, Fall 2016, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 32–55

Expert: India to match China by 2050

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ascension to power in 2014 could be the beginning of his country’s rise towards becoming an economic superpower equal to China, according to Woo Wing Thye, president of the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia.

US investigates Malaysia’s Jho Low over alleged Trump-linked donation, but experts say it won’t speed up justice in 1MDB case

According to The Wall Street Journal, Low donated US$100,000 to a committee involved in aiding the US president’s re-election. Observers say the alleged funding is in keeping with the fugitive Fnancier’s modus operandi, but the probe will not further strain US-China relations

Decentralising Malaysia’s education system

The next stage in Malaysia’s catching-up process requires that economic growth be knowledge-led and not just capital-led. The post-1970 New Economic Policy (NEP) produced a large middle-class through economic centralisation. But the decentralisation of decision-making is badly needed to enable knowledge-led growth to wrench Malaysia out of the middle-income trap and to spread the fruits of economic growth more equally. Reform of the education system, and not just economic policy and the financial system, is urgently needed.

Decentralisation - the key strategy for New Malaysia

Malaysia has once again been given the chance to re-make itself. The first re-making of its policy framework was the 1970 New Economic Policy (NEP) and the “Ketuanan Melayu” policies in the socio-political spheres.

Talks & Interviews

The Middle Income Trap Phenomenon

Malaysia’s economic and political reform initiatives can lift the country out of the “middle income” trap and help it join South Korea and Taiwan among the world’s richest nations, providing the plans are implemented effectively, Professor Woo Wing Thye said in the inaugural Sir John Monash Distinguished Public Lecture at Monash University Malaysia.

The World Economy in 2016

The slowdown in China, and Malaysia’s failure to undertake structural reform will weigh on the country’s economy in 2016, even as the United States appears to have turned a corner, Jeffrey Cheah Institute President Woo Wing Thye said this week.

Is the Future Configuration of ...

The momentum towards free trade, Asia’s growing wealth and the space for an international financial centre in this time zone, will help China cement its status as the region’s dominant economy but ensure there will be no European-style financial integration, JCI President Professor Woo Wing Thye argued in a recent lecture at Sunway University.