Saturday, September 3, 2011

Zambian Economist Reviews "The Beijing Consensus"

The always interesting blog Zambian Economist reviews Stefan Halper's "The Beijing Consensus: How China's Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century." (This is the book my research assistant said "makes China out to be rather scary"). Halper's book repeats a number of China-Africa myths, including the one about China giving Malawi $6 billion in aid. One day I might also review it, if only to point these out, but in the meantime, an excerpt from the Zambian Economist review:
...Taking Zambia as an example, it is not obvious that we would necessarily be better in terms of democratic outcomes without Chinese influence. Beyond the perverse economic plunder of mineral resources (which is primarily western led), it is difficult to argue that in terms of governance, the 1991 – 2001 period  under IMF / World Bank overlord were necessarily better than 2002 – 2010 period under increasingly Chinese control of Zambian interests. Indeed The Beijing Consensus does acknowledge the flaws and inevitable downfall of the American led "Washington Consensus". It therefore begs the question what these "western values" and practices being eroded are. Is it merely American dominance, for better or for worse?  For many poor nations there’s little difference between a Beijing dominated world and an American one. Similarly, if we looked at the Zambian government’s policy it is unclear what the Lusaka government is learning from Beijing. The Beijing model is direct state led involvement in key strategic sectors and stricter requirements on foreign investments (e.g. in the car industry). That is hardly Zambia’s approach. Indeed when one extrapolates across other developing nations (e.g. Malawi, DR Congo and Angola) a similar picture emerges. Many of these countries are more liberal than Beijing, and where they are intolerant of democracy, it is because they have always been intolerant – not because Beijing has introduced it....
To read the rest of the review, click here.

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