Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Beijing consensus is to keep quiet

An interesting analysis from The Economist on The China Model.
  • Scholars and officials in China itself, however, are divided over whether there is a China model (or “Beijing consensus” as it was dubbed in 2004 by Joshua Cooper Ramo, an American consultant, playing on the idea of a declining “Washington consensus”), and if so what the model is and whether it is wise to talk about it. The Communist Party is diffident about laying claim to any development model that other countries might copy.
  • Western publishers have been no less enthused by China’s continued rapid growth. The most recent entry in the field is “The Beijing Consensus, How China’s Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century” by Stefan Halper, an American academic. Mr Halper, who has served as an official in various Republican administrations, argues that “just as globalisation is shrinking the world, China is shrinking the West” by quietly limiting the projection of its values.
  • But despite China’s status as “the world’s largest billboard advertisement for the new alternative” of going capitalist and staying autocratic, Party leaders are, as Mr Halper describes it, gripped by a fear of losing control and of China descending into chaos. It is this fear, he says, that is a driving force behind China’s worrying external behaviour.
  • Party rule, the argument runs, depends on economic growth, which in turn depends on resources supplied by unsavoury countries.
  • Politicians in Africa in fact rarely talk about following a “Beijing consensus”. But they love the flow of aid from China that comes without Western lectures about governance and human rights.
Chinese don't talk. Their actions speak. No wonder China has grown unimaginably over the past 3 decades. But this has come at the cost of democracy, freedom of speech, liberty etc. We too had our share of emergency/dictatorship in the 1970s but we have realised that it can't succeed in a liberal/free country like India.

The Indian spirit can never be shackled. It loves freedom and we have sacrificed growth so that we can hold on to values which we cherish, even if we have imperfections in our model, which we are trying to rectify. We are slow, but we will grow. Our steps will be sure, without the fear of sudden collapse which is normally associated with dictatorial regimes. Being a democratic country, we are a open society - we learn and we are not afraid to share our learnings with the world. In other words, our consensus is to share and not have a secretive / security obsessed culture.

China is governed by real politik while India is even today a believer in idealism. I am not belitting the achievement of China and the Chinese people - it is remarkable by any standard - but it has come at a cost which free countries like India can ill-afford. Today, if the Beijing consensus is to keep quiet, it is out of fear - a sense of insecurity - what if other countries try to do what China has done or is currently doing and what will be its effect on China and its growth path.