Beijing Consensus

The term “Beijing Consensus” was coined by Joshua Cooper Ramo in 2004, also known as the Chinese model of economic development. This refers to the policies which were followed by Deng Xiaoping after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976.

It was to frame China’s economic development model as an alternative for developing countries to the Washington Consensus of market-friendly policies promoted by the IMF, World Bank, and the US. Treasury.  It was seen as an anti-Washington Consensus view for developing countries.

Table of Contents

The pillars of the Beijing Consensus

Over time experts interpreted this model in different ways rather it is believed to be based on three main pillars:

  1. Constant experimentation and Innovation,
  2. Peaceful distributive growth with gradual reforms,
  3. Self-determination and inclusion of selective foreign ideas.

The model received considerable attention aftermath of the great recession hitting the western economies as china remained still dynamic. So, experts portray it as china’s alternative to the liberal market approach to the Washington Consensus.

Characteristics of Beijing Consensus or China model:

Observations of Western experts:

  • Replacing trust in the free market for economic growth with “a muscular state hand on the levers of capitalism”
  • An absence of political liberalization
  • the strong leading role of the ruling political party
  • Population control

Some points also added by Zhang Weiwei, a Chinese professor of international relations from Fudan University:

  • Down-to-earth pragmatic concern with serving the people
  • Constant trial and error experimentation
  • Gradual reform rather than neo-liberal economic shock therapy
  • A strong and pro-development state
  • “selective cultural borrowing’ of foreign ideas.
  • A pattern of implementing easy reforms first, and difficult ones later.

As Chinese economic growth has continued, the “Beijing Consensus” or China model has become popular around the world as a template.

According to Indonesian scholar Ignatius Wibowo, “China clearly has gained ground in Southeast Asia” as countries there have shifted their development strategy from one based on a free market and democracy to one based on a semi-free market and a liberal political system.

Till 2010 we find rising interest in this method across the developing world but once the Chinese growth took a downturn in recent times, experts have advised double caution in blindly following this model.

Some experts believed that the rising protectionism across the world especially in the USA, and UK has been caused by an inclination towards this model only.


Critics at the free market-oriented magazine “The Economist” have called this model ‘unclear’ and the invention of “American think tank eggheads” and “plumage-puffed Chinese academics”.

The critics have stated that the success of china is a result of its “vast, cheap labour supply”, its attractive internal market for foreign investment”, and its success in the American market providing a perfect spendthrift counterpart for China’s exports and high saving rates.

As the developing countries should embrace the Chinese Model has been a contentious issue. Experts believe that the things which worked for China may not work for others looking at the heterogeneity of Chinese performance.

You can also read:

Washington Consensus

Agricultural systems in the world: A brief introduction of agricultural systems

Economics: A Brief Introduction of Economic Systems and Sectors in Economy


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