Eric X. Li was born in Shanghai and studied in the United States, where he receivedhis Bachelors from Berkeley and his MBA from Stanford. In the same period healso worked for the 1992 Ross Perot presidential campaign. During his stay in theUnited States he began to doubt the idea that China’s progress should simplyfollow the path traced by the West’s free-market principles.In a much-discussed op-ed he wrote for the New York Times in February 2012,he has put forth the idea that China needed a different development framework,around a different idea of modernity. The Chinese system, he says, is meritocratic,highly adaptable despite the one-party rule, long term-oriented, pragmatic andnon-individualistic. As he writes: “The Chinese political system … comes close tothe best formula for governing a large country: meritocracy at the top, democracyat the bottom, with room for experimentation in between.”It’s a standard assumption in the West: As a society progresses, it eventuallybecomes a capitalist, multi-party democracy. Eric X. Li, criticized by some asan exaggerated supporter of Chinese exceptionalism, but at ease in the role ofprovocateur, during his TED Talk he asks his audience to consider that there’s morethan one way to run a successful modern nation.Eric X. Li is also the founder of Chengwei Capital in Shanghai. Chengwei’s portfolioincludes over 50 companies operating in a wide range of industries such asmanufacturing, consumer goods, education, the Internet, oil and gas.Li also serves on the board of directors of China Europe International BusinessSchool in Shanghai, his native city, and the board of CEIBS Ghana, the school’sbranch in Africa. Li is a frequent contributor to leading publications such as TheNew York Times, Huffington Post, South China Morning Post, Christian ScienceMonitor, and the Global Times.