The Color of the Chinese Cat: Resetting the Discussion on China's Economic Development

Oscar Cosman Brøndum

Student thesis: Master thesis


The ‘reform era’ starting in 1978 marked a new beginning for China. Deng Xiaoping’s ‘open door’ policy embarked a new direction for the country, which would resolve in an extraordinary and admirable economic development. But China’s achievements has also raised the question of whether China represents a new model for economic development, a question which has received intensive interest in academia. In the quest to find the answer, a long-lasting and recurring controversy between the ‘Washington Consensus’ on the one side and the ‘Beijing Consensus’ on the other, has so far led to no consensus at all. This paper argues that the academic discussion has suffered from a ‘backward’ approach to finding answers. In an attempt to reset the discussion, the paper offers a re-evaluation of the Washington- and Beijing Consensus, as well as a comparison of China’s economic development vis-à-vis the other ‘successful Asian economies’. This paper finds that neither the Washington- nor the Beijing Consensus explain China’s economic development. Further, it finds that China’s economic development does not represent a distinct model of economic development, and hence suggests that future endeavors to define a specific model should be captured within the framework of an ‘East Asian Model’.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages75
SupervisorsEdward Ashbee