China Model: Does China Offer a Better Development Model Than the West?

The Economist debates whether China has a better development model than the West.

Stefan Halper, Senior Fellow of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, defends the motion; Susan Shirk, Director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California, is against the motion.

Comments from the moderator, Economist China correspondent James Miles:

After a week of lively debate, with much of it (especially from the floor) focusing on what the terms of the motion mean, we find Stefan Halper and Susan Shirk remaining in broad agreement: there is no distinctive development model that China offers, much less one that they would recommend anyone adopt. But they do disagree over the impact China is having on other developing countries. Mr Halper sees Chinese authoritarianism hindering the development of liberal values elsewhere. Ms Shirk is more sanguine.

Even in China, Ms Shirk argues in her closing statement, it is quite possible that the Communist Party is effectively “laying the normative foundation for the opposition movement that will ultimately defeat it”. Mr Halper asserts in his that “most analysts see these subtle adjustments as facilitating the authorities’ consolidation of power”.

Our expert contributor, Michael Pettis, agrees that “there is nothing especially Chinese” about the Chinese development model. And he makes a powerful case that the growth pattern we have seen so far in China, and have seen elsewhere in Asia as well as in Brazil, could be on the verge of a very difficult transition to a different model. To avoid wasting capital on a colossal scale and prevent trade confrontation with America and Europe, China needs to raise wages, interest rates and the value of its currency, he argues.

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