Seth Kaplan on redefining global ‘Development with Chinese Characteristics’

19th CPC National Congress

From Washington Consensus to Beijing Consensus, an increasing number of Western scholars are studying the so-called China Model: the system that helped the country grow to become the world’s second-largest economy.

Seth Kaplan is a Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University. He recently published an article titled: ‘Development with Chinese Characteristics.’
CGTN’s Wang Guan sat down with Kaplan to discuss his take on China’s strategy for growth.

Seth Kaplan is a Professorial Lecturer at School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. His article “Development with Chinese Characteristics”, essentially defines the China Model, also referred to as the Beijing Consensus by some in the U.S.  The American scholar argues that China’s political system has been over-simplified and misunderstood by the west in that “the China Model is often thought of in the west as authoritarian-led state capitalism. Western experts have a very difficult time looking at the full breadth of complexity as is China.”

Kaplan says the China Model consists of at least ten main features.

1) Start with small farmers and rural areas
2) Invest heavily in knowledge infrastructure
3) Prioritize cohesion over participation
4) Build a competent government committed to inclusive development
5) Invest heavily in infrastructure
6) Experiment with new policies first, then implement reforms gradually
7) Focus on reworking incentives and removing obstacles to growth
8) Use financial markets to promote development and stability
9) Use government policy to boost economic competitiveness
10) Promote self-reliance

While consolidation of power and cronyism are subjects that often made western headlines, Kaplan argues that China’s political system is more nuanced than that. For example, China’s official selection process, also known as The Cadre System, has built-in mechanisms for officials to deliver “while Western democracy has better downward accountability, China easily has the best system for upward accountability,” Kapan contends, where there are strong incentives for local officials and economies to compete.