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The ‘China model’ and the global crisis: from Friedrich List to a Chinese mode of governance?



    1. Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick, where he is also director of the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation.
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  • This article was written while the author was Macarthur Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore; he is grateful for its help and support. Research for the article forms part of the EU FP7 large-scale integrated research project ‘GR:EEN—Global Re-ordering: Evolution through European Networks’ (European Commission Project No. 266809).


The global financial crisis reinvigorated ongoing debates over whether China has its own distinct and separate ‘model’ of political economy and/or development. There is much that connects this Chinese model with previous systems of national political economies; partly in terms of specific policy preferences, but also in terms of shared basic conceptions of the distribution of power in the global order. Like these previous systems, China has come to stand as an example of an alternative to following dominant (neo-)liberal models of development. In this respect, what the China model is not and what China does not stand for might be more important than what it actually is and what it does stand for. However, the idea of a coherent and unique Chinese model has considerable purchase, and is both informed by and also feeds into considerations of China's uniqueness and difference from the norms, ideas and philosophies that dominate the rest of the world.