The theory has been well received by a number of economists, though many other explanations have been offered - I'm not that familiar with this but there's the "intellectual culture was hostile to rational scientific method" bucket (Joseph Needham), the more neoclassical "lack of domestic competition, property rights and all that free market love" bucket (which is closely tied to the "China was far away from everyone" bucket, Jared Diamond), the "silver drain and serial political instability" bucket, and a "Great Divergence AKA Europe got some colonies" bucket (Kenneth Pomeranz)."This diagram represents several different kinds of historical change in one compact figure: gradual technical progress along a production curve, shift of production curves through technical innovation, and the maximum production possibility curve that lies above each of these. The axes represent "total output" and "rural population." The concave shape of each curve has a very specific economic and demographic meaning: as population grows within a given mix of techniques, output grows more slowly; so average output per capita approaches the subsistence line OS. The HLET is graphically and laconically indicated on the upper right quadrant of the graph; there is no further room for technical improvement, and population has increased to the point where there is no surplus to fund radical technological innovation. (Elvin's theory of the high-level equilibrium trap is discussed in my Microfoundations, Methods, and Causation; link.)"