Published in 2012, the book makes new claims about the role of spontaneous private behavior in driving economic reforms, with the Communist Party moving slowly out of the way. The authors detail major, mostly unplanned shifts such as private farming, street-level exchange, and regional competition, the latter serving to transform China into “a gigantic laboratory where many different economic experiments were tried simultaneously.”

Tying China’s success to this liberalized market for goods, the authors warn China’s future success will depend on liberalizing the market for ideas, explaining, “As our modern economy becomes more and more knowledge-driven, the gains from free exchange of ideas are too great; the costs of suppressing it are too high.”