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Vlerick Business School honorary doctorate for Justin Yifu Lin



On Monday, 8 September, Vlerick Business School and KU Leuven jointly conferred an honorary doctorate on Professor Justin Yifu Linn on the occasion of the official opening of Vlerick’s academic year. Professor Lin is one of China’s foremost economists and is the former Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank. 

Honorary doctorate for top Chinese economist Justin Yifu Lin
 Rector Rik Torfs confers the honorary doctorate on Justin Yifu Lin. | Photo ? Vlerick Business School 

Professor Lin was born on 15 October 1952 in Taiwan. He received an MBA from the National Chengchi University (Taiwan) in 1978, an MA in political economy from Peking University in 1982, and a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago in 1986. He has held positions at top universities including Yale and Duke and was co-founder of the China Centre for Economic Research and the National School of Development at Peking University. He has advised many international institutions, including the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Millennium Task Force on Hunger. In 2008, he became Chief Economist of the World Bank, the first person of Asian descent to hold that position.

Currently, Justin Yifu Lin is pursuing an ambitious research project that examines industrialisation in countries undergoing rapid development. His research also sheds new light on the causes of stalled growth in poor regions.

“Patience to cook a stone”

Professor Louis-Henri Verbeke, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vlerick Business School, delivered the laudatio for the new doctor honoris causa. He emphasised Professor Lin’s bold yet gentle demeanor and lauded Lin’s impressive contributions as a researcher and as Chief Economist for the World Bank.

Professor Lin played an important role in planning China’s modern economic development. In his work, he resolves the ostensibly irresolvable: he built a world-encompassing career without losing sight of China, he reconciled economic performance with real social harmony, and he successfully brought free market thinking in line with the needs of developing countries. None of these trajectories are easy, but, to quote one of his colleagues, Professor Lin possesses “the patience to cook a stone”.

In his honouree address, Professor Lin spoke specifically about the Chinese economy and his vision of the role of the market and government in the economy. Since the transition from a planned economy to a market economy in 1979, China’s economic development has soared. China has transformed itself from a poor, agricultural, inward-looking country into an economic world power and world producer. However, the sustainability of the Chinese growth model is constantly questioned. In his speech, ‘Demystifying the Chinese Economy’, Professor Lin explained why China has been able to support such dynamic growth, the price the country has paid for its growth and whether China will be able to sustain this growth in the years to come.

Rector Rik Torfs closed the session by officially conferring the honorary degree on Professor Lin. In the citation, Lin is lauded for his contributions to the advancement of Chinese society, his academic accomplishments in the area development economics, his pioneering work as a co-founder of the National School of Development and his courage and dedication in defence of universal human rights.