Berlin, 24 February 2020: Professor of Economics at Kozminski University and former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland and Minister of Finance, Grzegorz W. Kolodko joined the DOC last night for our latest Meet in Mitte event to discuss China and the future of globalisation.
Professor Kolodko discussed his concept of Chinism, the political and economic system that is specific to China, a combination of the power of the Chinese state and the market economy, and how it can be used for a more inclusive globalisation.
Kolodko highlighted the particularities of the Chinese system and how it diverged from other countries, for example Poland, in its transformation from a Soviet people’s republic. Indeed, in a “weird coincidence of history”, Poland held its first open and free elections on the same day, June 4 1989, as the suppression of the student-led demonstrations at Tiananmen Square.
China chose to embrace free market-economy while not liberalising its political system to the extent of the ex-Soviet democracies. By opening the market there are no longer shortages such as there were in the former Soviet Union. Freeing the prices, whilst not freeing the enterprises completely, eliminated shortages despite not switching to full-fledged capitalism and liberal democracy. This has made China very successful, with its own system different from classical socialism/communism and capitalism.
Kolodko believes that current black and white debates of whether the Chinese system is capitalistic or socialist is a waste of time, since Chinism is an ideological, political and economic system entirely particular to China.
It is a market economy, though not a free market economy. The success of the model is a result of the invisible hand of the market, and the “sometimes too visible” hand of the government.
Chinism reflects the paradox of a so-called (since it supports unemployment, inequality, private property) communist one-party system presiding over an advanced, open and competitive market economy and guaranteeing the success that it has over the past generation.
The question is then: Does there exist a methodology to determine how much of an increase in income offsets the acceptance of a lack of political/cultural/personal freedom?
According to Kolodko, Xi Jinping announced at a recent Communist Party Congress that China will stay its current course, and not follow suit and become a liberal democracy in the Western vein, as the West had believed it would following its acceptance into the WTO. Xi even goes further to suggest that perhaps China’s model is more, that it can even be a design for others to adopt.
Chinism has delivered a lot in China, and now seems attractive elsewhere too. Indeed Kolodko believes China to be unstoppable saying: “If you don’t love it, okay! Learn to work with it.” China will join the so-called advanced economies by 2024. The fear of this competition is what is leading to the current ill-advised policies of the Trump administration, the trade war, the confrontation.
Professor Döring offered a response to what type of animal Chinism might be. The praise China has been given by the WHO with regard to its handling of the recent Coronavirus outbreak is emblematic of the progress the country has undergone, in particular since the outbreak of SARS in 2003.
Döring believes that the world has indeed become a lot more Chinese, and that Chinism may not be a model to be copied, but it is a model to take inspiration from. He believes that Europeans have become stuck in a trend of not having the courage to use their own reason and to be open to new ideas from other cultures.
The livestream of last night’s discussion can be watched on our Youtube channel:
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