Read My Lips

Stefan Halper on the Beijing Consensus

How has China taught the world to think differently?


1. Is China gaining ground as a world power?

“China isn’t emerging as a major power. It’s reemerging after one and a half centuries of being a weak power."

2. Does this matter in the grand scheme of things?

"Against the weighty backdrop of imperial history, this seems like a brief hiatus.”

3. What is at the core of the Chinese government's policy?

“The government’s policy for social cohesion is two-fold: (1) Sustain growth and (2) an appeal to nationalism."

4. Are these two inter-connected?

"These are mutually dependent. Each could lose its viability without the other.”

5. What is the government's theory for international relations?

“The new Chinese theory of state is a fusion narrative that strives to unify two ideas: (1) the Chinese economic miracle and (2) the big idea of ‘China reemerging.'”

6. How is China challenging the United States' position in world politics?

“The intervening period has seen China grow to pose a serious challenge to the United States — not by virtue of its military power or its accumulation of U.S. dollar reserves, but as the catalyst for a global shift in development economics."

7. What characterizes the Chinese approach as compared to Western thought?

"Away from the market-democratic model — and toward a new type of capitalism, which can flourish without the values and norms of Western liberalism.”

8. What are some of the false notions about China?

“If the China hawks have helped to fashion the notion that China is coming to get us, this group is closely allied with another China frame that also contorts the Washington debate: China is coming to buy us.”

9. Why is China gaining more popularity in the world?

“Chinese actions simply speak louder than Western words. Look at the initiatives President Hu Jintao announced at a recent summit for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. These are not overly expensive or burdensome initiatives."

10. And finally, is there a lesson for the West to learn?

"We need to learn from this approach, replicate it and improve on it. Deploy 100 top Chinese agricultural experts to Africa. Establish ten agricultural technology centers. Build 30 new hospitals."

Editor's Note: All the quotes in this Read My Lips have been drawn from Stefan Halper's book, "The Beijing Consensus: How China’s Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century" published by Basic Books on April 6, 2010.

Each edition of “Read My Lips” presents quotes made by the featured individual at the time specified in the answers. However, it is a “virtual” interview only — insofar as we have added questions in order to provide a better context to the thoughts expressed.

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