The Beijing Consensus: China's Alternative Development Model

By Dustin R. Turin
2010, Vol. 2 No. 01 | pg. 2/2 |

Discussion: Taking the Beijing Consensus Beyond China

One of the primary hallmarks of the Beijing Consensus is that it does not dictate finite policy points to those who may seek to use it as a model. Where the Washington Consensus clearly delineates ten relatively unambiguous recommendations, the BJC is formed, merely, around three ideas, which are in themselves less tangible and more subjective then those of the WAC. This leads to an important question: is the Beijing Consensus really useful as a development model?

Arif Dirlik, a specialist, questions the true utility of the BJC on the basis of its broad nature and lack of specificity: Dirlik instead calls the Beijing Consensus “a notion, rather than a concept or an idea, because it does not have any of the coherence that we associate with either of those terms” (Dirlik, 2006: 1). Dirlik also brings up some of the downsides to China’s boom, addressing the fact that a large portion of the population has been “marginalized by… new development policies” (p. 4), and brining attention to the environmental challenge China now faces, describes pollution levels as so severe that they are “an additional cause of public suffering and disturbance” (p. 7). The implementation of China’s development ideals has obviously not been without flaw.

However, although Dirlik offers a challenge to viewing the BJC as a “model,” or even as a true “consensus,” he recognizes that the BJC is important for other reasons:

“In the PRC, the search for autonomy and self-determination has taken… a multilateralist approach to global relationships which contrasts sharply with the increasingly unilateralist direction US policy has taken over the last two decades. The most important aspect of the Beijing Consensus may be an approach to global relationships that seeks, in multinational relationships, a new global order founded on economic relationships, but which also recognizes political and cultural difference as well as differences in regional and national practices within a common global framework…. A century of revolutionary socialist search for autonomy, bolstered by recent economic success, qualifies the PRC eminently to provide leadership in the formation of an alternative global order.” (Dirlik, 2006: 5)

The suggestion Dirlik is making it that despite its imperfections, the BJC is relevant to the world—not necessarily as a directly replicable model—but as a new lens through which to view the world (an “alternative global order”).

Other scholars echo Dirlik, suggesting that while the ideas from which the BJC is composed have a legitimate value, calling the Beijing Consensus a “consensus” may be overly flamboyant; instead, analysts tend to refer to these ideas more preferably as a “China model” (Lai-Ha, Lee,  & Chan, 2008: 12). Lai-Ha, et. al. write, “It is worth noting that Chinese analysts only disagree with [the BJC] over a different use of terminology to sum up China’s experience. By and large, they resonate with [the BJC] by putting emphasis on the claims that the state should play a predominant role in reform and development. They also point out that there should not be any universal blueprint for development imposed by external actors from above” (Lai-Ha, Lee,  & Chan, 2008: 13).

Therefore, in exploring the feasibility of implementing the BJC as a development model outside of China, the result is twofold. On one hand, the BJC is limited by China’s own unique experience: the long experiment with socialism, the world’s largest population, a noteworthy Confucian tradition, and a unified national identity all make China distinctly Chinese.

On the other hand, the BJC serves as a convenient starting point for identifying a mode of development that is independent from the currently accepted model (i.e., the Washington Consensus). In this sense, the BJC is highly valuable to the developing world by “[serving] to enhance the voice of developing nations in global affairs” (Lai-Ha, Lee,  & Chan, 2008: 13). Ultimately, the BJC does not dictate any specific policy that adherents must undertake, and it is thus less outwardly recognizable as a “model”—but, the ideas from which the BJC is composed create a base upon which policy can be shaped. Furthermore, disdain with failed Western policies significantly increases the appeal of the BJC in the developing world.

Conclusion 

The Beijing Consensus is not actually a “consensus” in the same way that the Washington Consensus has come to be understood, as an ideal form of development. Instead, it is a new way of thinking about the global order that is intended to be contrarian, and which realizes value—most basically—as an alternative to the currently dominant ideology.

Because of its position as an “alternative,” the Beijing Consensus is naturally appealing to states that have not benefited from the existing international structure. In many ways, the Beijing Consensus is presently manifested as a growth of Chinese “soft-power” throughout the globe, particularly in regions such as Africa and the (Lai-Ha, Lee,  & Chan: 13). China’s use of soft-power furthermore stands in stark contrast to the continuous reliance on hard-power solutions by the United States and other Western nations.

It appears likely that the Beijing Consensus will continue to play a growing and increasingly important role in shaping future development initiatives throughout the world. The role of the Beijing Consensus is realized both as an alternative development , and as a gauge to the changing international environment. Ultimately, the rise of this idea is indicative of China’s increasing importance as a world power.


References

--. 2008. “235 million people lifted from absolute .” People’s Daily (English). Retrieved from:

--. 2009. “China pledges $10bn Africa loans.” BBC. Retrieved from:

--. 2009. “Human development report 2009: China”. UN Development Program (UNDP). Retrieved from:

Dirlik, Arif. 2006. “Beijing Consensus: Beijing ‘Gongshi.’” and Autonomy Online Compendium. Retrieved from:

Gresh, Alain. 2008. “Understanding the Beijing Consensus.” Le Monde Diplomatique. Retrieved from:  

Handelman, Howard. 2008. The challenge of Third World development (5th edition). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Harris, Helen. 2008. "The Washington Consensus reconsidered: towards a new global ." (Book Review). Journal of International Affairs 62.1. Academic OneFile, (accessed November 9, 2009).

Lai-Ha, Chan, Pak K. Lee, and Gerald Chan. 2008. "Rethinking global governance: a China model in the making?" Contemporary Politics 14, no. 1: 3-19. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 18, 2009).

Leonard, Andrew. 2006. “No consensus on the Beijing Consensus.” Salon. Retrieved from:

Lyman, Princeton N. 2005. “China’s rising role in Africa.” The Council on Foreign Relations.

Ogden, Suzanne. 2002. Inklings of in China. New York: Harvard University Asia Center

Oniz, Ziya. 2004. “Argentina, the IMF, and the limits of neo-liberal globalization: a comparative perspective.” Review of International Affairs.

Ramo, Joshua Cooper. 2004. “The Beijing Consensus.” The Centre.

Serra, Narcis and Joseph E. Stiglitz. 2008. The Washington Consensus reconsidered: towards a new global governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wade, Robert. 2003. Governing the market: economic theory and the role of government in East Asian industrialization. New York: Princeton University Press.

Williamson, John. 2002. “What Washington means by policy reform.” Peterson Institute for International Economics. Retrieved from:

Williamson, John. 2004. “A short history of the Washington consensus.” Proceedings from  2004: From the Washington Consensus towards a new Global Governance. Barcelona.

 Yusuf, Shahid and Kaoru Nabeshima. 2006. China’s Development Priorities. The World Bank.

Suggested Reading from Inquiries Journal

This report examines the Chinese economic model, the potential for future Chinese growth, and the implications for Australia. An examination of factors that have contributed to the rise of the modern Chinese economy including... MORE»
Advertisement
In response to a growing acknowledgement of the failure of international aid, one school of scholars has identified a lack of aid as the defining crisis in development. From their perspective, aid has failed in driving change not due to inherent flaws, but because developed nations have failed to give enough. This school points... MORE»
This essay seeks to elucidate the puzzle of China's policy decision to create a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). Much literature has been put forth on the topic to predict the strategic benefits China may be pursuing through its investments in American firms using its SWF, China Investment Corporation (CIC). Such speculation on these... MORE»
The efficacy of efforts by the United States government to influence regime change in foreign nations has been increasingly called into question. Motivated by these statements of skepticism, the study herein provides a statistical analysis of the impact US intervention has had on both democratic evolutions in target nations for... MORE»
Submit to Inquiries Journal, Get a Decision in 10-Days

Inquiries Journal provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.

Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Inquiries Journal's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit

Follow SP

Latest in International Affairs

2017, Vol. 10 No. 2
In recent decades, Japan and South Korea have become hosts to ethnic return migrants who have returned to their ancestral homeland after once emigrating overseas. Since the 1980s, the Brazilian nikkeijin, or members of the Japanese diaspora, have... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 10 No. 2
In December 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognized the universal human right to food. Most recently in July 2010, the U.N. General Assembly adopted resolution 64/292 that recognized the human... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 10 No. 2
The global network of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Daesh,2 is expanding rapidly. Southeast Asia is especially vulnerable because of its large Muslim population and its history of extremist groups. In fact, some experts... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 10 No. 2
It is often thought that great military strategists do not engage in simple, frontal assaults, but instead devise complex plans meant to deceive, manipulate, and surprise their enemies. However, do such strategies always lead to victory? If not,... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 9 No. 05
This article explores the role that the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) played in the 2011 intervention in Libya. It examines the R2P legal framework in coordination with events on the ground in Libya during the early part of 2011 in order to thoroughly... Read Article »
2012, Vol. 1 No. 1
Published by Clocks and Clouds
Despite a proliferation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) in Kibera, the largest informal settlement in Kenya, conditions for residents remain bleak. CBOs are uniquely positioned to catalyze change... Read Article »
2012, Vol. 1 No. 1
Published by Clocks and Clouds
Missionary work has been an integral part of community development in Latin America. However, does missionary work actually impact community development in Latin America today? While missionary methods, particularly holistic missiology, were significant... Read Article »

What are you looking for?

FROM OUR BLOG

Writing a Graduate School Personal Statement
How to Select a Graduate Research Advisor
The Career Value of the Humanities & Liberal Arts