European Council on Foreign Relations

What does China think?

By - 11 Feb 08

Mark Leonard China bookWe know all about the statistics of China's rise - dizzying growth rates, vast currency reserves, new cities built every week - but we have heard very little about China as a powerhouse of ideas about politics, economics and world order.

In my latest book, published by Fourth Estate in February 2008, I look at the Chinese model of globalisation which I argue could re-shape the face of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. I am trying to show how experiments with focus groups and opinion polls are changing China from a traditional authoritarian state to a new 'deliberative dictatorship', and reveal how Beijing hopes to use a "China Dream" to challenge the US' military power. 

The book charts the development of a new Chinese world view and identifies the following different factions battling for influence:

  • The "New Left" who want a gentler form of capitalism with a social safety net that could reduce inequality and protect the environment;
  • The "New Right" who think that freedom will only come when the public sector is dismantled and sold off, and a new, politically active "propertied class" emerges;
  • The "Neo-Comms", cousins of American neo-cons, want to use military modernisation, cultural diplomacy and international law to assert China's power in the world.

I argue that in the future, the West willl be just as interested in the Chinese "Neo-Comms" plans for Asia as it is now in the "Neo-Cons" attempts to reshape the Middle East. Soon, the political struggle in the Communist Party will be seen as vital as the battle between the US presidential contenders; and protesters outside the World Bank will complain as much about the "Beijing Consensus" as they do about the "Washington Consensus".



An interview with Mark Leonard on Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal, recorded in Washington, D.C on 16 May 2008.




You might need to install the appropriate software to be able to listen to these MP3 files. For more information, please click here.

Listen to a discussion on BBC Radio 4's Start the Week, recorded on 11 February 2008.

Listen to Mark Leonard on BBC Five Live with Simon Mayo on China's emergence as a world power, recorded on 18 February 2008.
Listen to part 1    
Listen to part 2    
Listen to part 3    
Listen to part 4

Listen to Mark Leonard on WNYC - The Brian Lehrer Show, recorded in New York on 6 May 2008.

Listen to an interview on ABC Australia, broadcasted on 2 May 2008.



“Neo-Comms” and “Beijing Consensus”. Sounds like really interesting reading. Change is underway in China and its time to get an in-depth analysis. Cant wait for the book to be published and I hope every ECFR reader and supporter will read it!

Lukas Vitalijus | Canada-EU | 15 Feb 08, 15 Feb 08 EST

Intellectuals and scholars have to conform themselves to the National party too much. This is why we don’t know what they think. Furthermore they don’t want to reveal there way of thinking too much to the outside world.

Sham Bhaggoe | The Hague | 17 Feb 08, 17 Feb 08 EST

Ideas into reality for all to see,can make even the most sceptical become believers. Vision, perseverance with patience and benefit for all. The chinese model? Will the west oversleep and wake up too late!

Ian G Whittaker | England | 11 Mar 08, 11 Mar 08 EST

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