Tang Min: the father Of China's university expansion

China Plus Published: 2018-12-13 14:28:00
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In 1998, Tang Min and his wife Zuo Xiaolei, both economists, wrote a three-page letter to then Premier Zhu Rongji. In it, they suggested expanding college enrollments and charging tuition fees to ease the impact of the Asian financial crisis.

Tang Min: the father Of China's university expansion

Tang Min, Executive Vice Chairman of YouChange China Social Entrepreneur Foundation, takes an interview from China Plus. [Photo: China Plus]

Twenty years later, some people are still criticizing this suggestion. Did Tang Min regret writing the letter? We ask him this and more in our series "Deep Dive: Talks with Chinese Internationals".

You can also find the shows on Apple Podcasts.

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An Unstoppable Cross-Field Problem Solver

by Manling, host of China Plus

After spending time chatting, mingling and interviewing him, I finally decided to label Tang Min as an unstoppable cross field problem solver. Before coining him this title, I was doing research on him and struggled to find a right one for him. He is an economist by profession, but has made remarkable achievements in education and has succeeded in making significant policy proposals to the State Council, China's cabinet. As an economist, an educator or a government councilor, I wondered which title should stand out and most represent who he is. Specialized in and dedicated to poverty alleviation and promotion of educational equity, his efforts have resulted in bringing great changes in people's lives and great impact on the development of China's economy.

In 1977, Tang Min took the college entrance examination, also known as Gaokao. He was among the first group of people admitted by universities since Gaokao was resumed after a lapse of 11 years. He studied math in Wuhan University for a Bachelor's degree and later went to the United States for further study in finance and economics. After graduation, he applied for a job in the Asian Development Bank and served there as an economist for 17 years before joining YouChange Fund to continue his engaging in poverty alleviation and education for the poor in China. Though retired years ago, he is still a policy advisor for the State Council, and is more active than ever before, happily dedicating his time and energy to his own cause of interest. Tang Min has said before retirement, at least 70 percent of the things he did were for obligation and responsibility. After retirement, it has been the opposite. He now only does things that he's interested in. As our conversation went deeper, I have found no major obvious shift of interest and focus in the things he did before and is doing now. The difference Tang Min has felt must be a mental one. Employment, education and innovation remain to be his life's calling and he is still available, sensitive to problems, quick to act, to advise and to solve problems whenever possible.

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