China’s rapid economic growth beginning in the late 1970s has long fascinated international observers, even more so since China emerged largely unaffected by the global financial crisis. Discussions on the reasons behind the origins and persistence of China’s unique economic success flourish in the media and academic and policy publications. To explain the various sides of the debate and address the future outlook of China’s state-economy relationship, the Carnegie Middle East Center hosted a discussion with Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy’s resident scholar Matthew Ferchen. Carnegie’s Paul Salem moderated the discussion.
The China Model generally refers to the economic and political policies that Beijing enacted in 1978, which established state authority over gradually opening economic markets, Ferchen said. It is credited by many as the reason behind China’s dramatic economic growth. However, Ferchen argued that this conception of the China Model is inherently misleading, for there is no real international or domestic consensus about how or why China arrived where it is today.
Ferchen explained that international commentators on China’s economic success can generally be categorized into one of three groups:
The official government position is that China’s growth since 1978 is a result of highly pragmatic domestic policies promoting development and stability and a foreign policy favoring multilateral action and respect of sovereignty, Ferchen explained. Nevertheless, he added, within the party two camps have emerged with rival viewpoints on how China should behave in the future.
Despite these challenges, and despite the lack of a coherent China Model that other countries could follow, Ferchen identified three aspects of China’s economic plan that could serve as examples for developing countries:
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