Is There a Beijing Consensus?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 2/21/2007 09:59:00 PM
The short answer is no--or at least not yet. The inability of many developing countries that have adopted the Washington Consensus to improve their situations has led to a search for new solutions. Recently, Joshua Cooper Ramo coined the term "Beijing Consensus" to describe an alternative to the "Washington Consensus." According to him, this newer consensus involves:

1. Innovation and constant experimentation;
2. Rejection of GDP growth above all in favor of sustainability and equality;
3. Self-determination (take that, nasty World Bank/IMF conditionalities!)

Critics of this version of the Beijing Consensus rightly point out that China's environmental woes include having 16 out of 20 of the world's most polluted cities, and that inequality there is high and rising. According to Salon, unsuccessful development coupled with a growing distaste for American paternalism is responsible for the notion of a Beijing Consensus--and not because there is such a thing:
But Ramo's assertion that the Beijing Consensus represents opposition to the status quo, to U.S. hegemony and U.S. power, is undoubtedly on the money, and explains why China is gaining face worldwide at the expense of the United States. Scores of developing nations want to imitate China's economic growth, and at the same time, chafe at the paternalism and stipulations that come with American advice and aid. No one seems to be comfortable with a world with just one superpower. So there doesn't have to be any there there, in the Beijing Consensus.
For another version of the Beijing Consensus, Wu Shuqing makes the following comment in China Daily, an official Party publication . He could be on the money; after all, the second-fastest growing economy in the world after China is yet another market-socialist state, Vietnam.
As far as China is concerned our Socialist system is always affirmed as a system of superiority. The question is to give full scope to its inherent superiority. For this reason the nature of the reform is the self-improvement and development of the Socialist system. Its goal is to tap the inherent superiority consistently and effectively. Obviously, the guiding theory of the reform is Marxism, Deng Xiaoping Theory that integrates Marxism with the practice of contemporary China.
UPDATE: John Williamson, the guy who coined the "Washington Consensus," believes there is no such thing insofar as it's mostly non-Chinese who keep bandying the term about.

25/11/2010 UPDATE: Also see John Williamson of Washington Consensus fame arguing that there isn't really such a thing as a Beijing Consensus since the Chinese have never really identified one.