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UPDATED: April 16, 2012 NO. 16 APRIL 19, 2012
Model Roles
Comparison and competition between development patterns in an era of globalization
By Cui Hongjian

CONNECTING THE WORLD: Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer ZTE Corp. showcases its cutting-edge technology at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona (XINHUA)

The Anglo-Saxon economic model, Rhine capitalism and the East Asian economic model all have strong local and cultural characteristics. But since best practices spread to other parts of the world and are imitated by undeveloped countries and regions, a comparison of these development models is of global significance.

Chinese character

The debate on the "China model" occurs at an interesting time. For one thing, after more than 30 years of development since the reform and opening-up program began, China needs to review and summarize its own social and economic achievements and find solutions to existing problems for future development. For another, compared with the collective rise of emerging countries, developed economies seem to have lost their way. They can no longer provide examples that China can follow.

For the last 30 years, China's economic vitality has come from the late-mover advantages after competition between ideologies gave way to competition between development models with the end of the Cold War. China has adopted the successful experience of other development models. In the early stage, it absorbed the East Asian model's export-oriented economic pattern, imitated the Anglo-Saxon economy's openness and emphasis on attracting foreign investment, and copied Rhine capitalism's focus on social harmony.

The mixed Chinese model enjoys the benefits of the successful synthesis of other models, but it might also face risks caused by the mutual rejection of different models. For example, the rapid economic growth of China has benefited from its large population and big market, but it is still a challenge to achieve growth through technology innovation. The relationship between government and market is not clearly defined. Structural problems in the real estate industry and state-owned enterprises may become a source of social tensions.

The key issue for China is to be fully aware of the unsustainability and imbalances of its current development model. A "China model" has yet to emerge, because China is still in the process of exploring a new development model. Due to the unique economic and political structures and cultural background of China and its big size, China cannot look for answers from other models. It should be confident to establish an independent development model based on its national conditions.

As it seeks an original model, China will continue to optimize its political and economic structures and integrate other development models. Therefore, questions such as how to loosen market controls, how to regulate the market with economic tools rather than administrative orders, how to strike a balance between equity and efficiency and how to change the unsustainable growth pattern should be thoroughly considered. Only if the answers have a Chinese character and are tested theoretically and practically, will the "China model" have a bright future.

The author is an associate research fellow with the China Institute of International Studies

Email us at: yanwei@bjreview.com

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