The Dialectic at Work?

Justin Yifu Lin, apparently soon to be named the World Bank’s chief economist, has one of the strangest CVs you could imagine.  Lin was born in Taiwan but in 1979 while serving in the Taiwanese army he defected to China by swimming from the island of Kinmen in Taiwan to Xiamen in China.  Embarrassed by the defection of a rising star, the Taiwanese army listed him as missing.  Lin left behind a wife and children who (it seems) didn’t know what had happened to him.

Lin rose quickly in China receiving a Master’s degree in Marxist political economy from Peking University in 1982 and in 1986 a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago

(!).  According to the Taipei Times, Lin’s wife learned that Lin was alive while he was in the United States and they were reunited in the U.S. where she also earned a graduate degree before both returned to China.  Lin has since become a well-published economist.

I see movie.

Addendum: Tyler also covers this further below.


Professor Lin wrote his thesis under the supervision of the late Dale G Johnson.

I am honestly curious about his motives. What combination of political beliefs (and changes therein) would inspire you to "defect" to China in 1979, get a PhD from Chicago in economics (double !) in 1983-1986 and then return to China, and then accept a position as the chief economist at the World bank in 2008?

That's got to be a good story.

Nice person! He left his wife and kid for years just to study...

thank you for this excelent article

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