Davos: Shape of Capitalism to Come: a Beijing Consensus?

February 1, 2010

One of the questions that surprised veteran New York Times journalist, Thomas L. Friedman, at the 2010 World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland was, “Is the ‘Beijing Consensus’ replacing the ‘Washington Consensus?’ (Friedman 2010-01-30).

The Davos World Economic Forum usually offers accurate indicators of the global mood on its political barometer (Friedman 2010-01-30).

‘Washington Consensus’ is a term coined after the cold war for the free-market, pro-trade, globalization policies promoted by America that by 2010 has evolved into an almost hegemonic system of open markets, floating currencies and free elections that is now under scrutiny for its weak performance on political risk analysis. The United States may very well be monitored as a risk investment climate because of its political instability (Friedman 2010-01-30).

The U.S two-party political system was described by developing countries as in danger of political instability at the Davos Forum as the U.S. administration appears to be unable to deal with health care, infrastructure, education and energy issues (Friedman 2010-01-30).

In his book entitled China’s New Confucianism, (2008-05) Daniel A. Bell explained how in China, Confucianism, Communism and Capitalism are blending. Capitalists can now join the CCP. The reformed Chinese legal system is slowly aligning with the Western legal systems (Chinese businesses are insisting on Chinese laws for arbitration). Bell observes that as China increased its openness to capitalist markets, it appears to be retreating from communism. China is also embracing a new form of Confucianism, evident in efforts made to enhance and encourage civil society in China during the Beijing Olympics. This new Confucianism, Bell suggests, may be a compelling alternative to Western liberalism.

Ramo, Joshua Cooper. 2004-05-11. “Beijing Consensus: The Beijing Consensus: Notes on the New Physics of Chinese Power.” The Foreign Policy Centre: London, UK. Ramo compares China’s shifting ideology to Heisenberg among others, explaining how developing countries look to China as an alternative to the Washington Consensus which focused on molding nation-states into similar malleable entities preparing the ground for market interests to flourish and profit globally.

Who’s Who

The Foreign Policy Centre “is a prominent UK progressive foreign think-tank founded by Robin Cook under the patronage of Tony Blair in 1998 to develop a vision of a fair and rule-based world order. Through our research, publications and events, we aim to develop innovative policy ideas that promote: effective multilateral solutions to global problems; democratic and well-governed states as the foundation of order and development; partnerships with the private sector and NGOs to deliver public goods; support for progressive policy through effective public diplomacy; inclusive definitions of citizenship to underpin internationalist policies.”

Key Concepts

Beijing Consensus According to New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman the “Confucian-Communist-Capitalist” is a “hybrid under the umbrella of a one-party state, with a lot of government guidance, strictly controlled capital markets and an authoritarian decision-making process that is capable of making tough choices and long-term investments, without having to heed daily public polls (Friedman citing Bennhold 2010).” The man who coined the term, Joseph Cooper Ramo “Beijing Consensus”, described it as an alternative to the “Washington Consensus.” According to him, this newer consensus was more attractive to developing countries who wanted recipes for economic growth that did not result in political instability. The Beijing Consensus as dr”: the use of leading-edge high technologies, constant innovation and experimentation, willingness to fail, rejection of a “black hole” GDP indicator, self-determination (as opposed to World Bank/IMF conditions) (Ramo 2004).

Timeline

1984-06-30 Deng Xiaoping spoke with the Japanese delegation to the second session of the Council of Sino-Chinese Non-Governmental Persons. This excerpt is entitled “Build Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.”

2004 Joseph Cooper Ramo coined the term “Beijing Consensus” to describe an alternative to the “Washington Consensus.” According to him, this newer consensus involved: innovation and constant experimentation; rejection of GDP growth above all in favor of sustainability and equality; self-determination (as opposed to World Bank/IMF conditions) (Ramo 2004).

2008-05 In his book entitled China’s New Confucianism, (2008-05) Daniel A. Bell explained how in China, capitalists can now join the CCP; the reformed Chinese legal system more closely aligns with the West and Chinese businesses are insisting on its use Chinese laws in arbitration. Bell observes that China has increased its openness to capitalist markets, retreated from communism and is embracing a new Confucianism. This new Confucianism, evident in the efforts made to enhance and encourage civil society in China during the Beijing Olympics, may be a compelling alternative to Western liberalism.

2008 Before the Beijing Olympic Games China was still considered to be an emerging economy. China seemed to respond positively to the U.S. and E.U. to lift censorship and to cooperate with the West. Efforts were made to enhance and encourage civil society in China during the Games.

2010 The World Economic Forum was held in Davos, Switzerland.

Webliography and Bibliography

Bell, Daniel A. 2008. “From Communism to Confucianism: Changing Discourses on China’s Political Future.” China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society. Princeton University Press. pp.3-18.

Bennhold, Katrin. 2009-01-27. “Is Europe’s welfare system a model for the 21st century?New York Times.

Bennhold, Katrin. 2010-01-27. “As China Rises, Conflict With West Rises Too.” New York Times.

Deng Xiaoping. 1984-06-30. “Build Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.

Friedman, Thomas. 2010-01-30. “Never Heard That Before.” New York Times. Davos, Switzerland.

Gibney, Frank B.; Lin, Paul T. K. et al. 1979-11-26. “We can develop a market economy under socialism.”

Jessica Li, Jessica; Madsen, Jean. 2009-04. “Chinese workers’ work ethic in reformed state-owned enterprises: implications for HRD.Human Resource Development International, 12:2:171-188.

“Work ethic, as the construct of work-related values and attitudes, directly affects employees’ job performance. Work ethic subjects to the influence of business and social practices. China is in the mix of major economical and political transformation, although little is known about how work ethic has changed for Chinese workers since the economic reform first initiated in 1979. This study is designed to examine work ethic currently held by workers of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Findings revealed work ethic perceptions based on the multidimensional work ethic profile (MWEP), a Western work ethic profile, and the Confucian work ethic (CWE), an Eastern work ethic profile, resulted in similarities but often lived different life styles. Differences: perceptions of hard work, self-reliance, centrality of work, education, use of time, delay of graduation. Other MWEP concepts were very similar to Chinese workers’ work perceptions.”

Ramo, Joshua Cooper. 2004-05-11. “The Beijing Consensus: Notes on the New Physics of Chinese Power.” The Foreign Policy Centre: London, UK.

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