Assessing the viability of the CCP’s development model in the Indo-Pacific region


In a rapidly changing world marked by intense great power competition, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) development model has become a focal point of global attention. The question at hand is whether the model that has propelled China’s remarkable economic growth and global influence can be applied across the diverse nations of the Indo-Pacific region. To answer this, we must delve into the concept of ‘viable development’ that the CCP has championed and examine its various dimensions.

Viable development, in this context, refers to the construction of a functioning political economy that aligns domestic characteristics with the globalizing world order to improve the well-being of its citizens. The roots of this model trace back to Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms in the late 1970s, which established a unique socialist state-directed market capitalist development framework in China. The success of this model, recognized by institutions like the World Bank, has seen China achieve remarkable GDP growth and lift over 800 million people out of poverty.

Xi Jinping’s leadership has further advanced China’s development narrative, centered around the ‘great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.’ Initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative aim to enhance connectivity and cooperation across multiple states. However, a critical observation reveals that this initiative does not necessarily align China’s domestic considerations with the broader global order; instead, it seeks to reshape the global order to fit its domestic attributes.

Under Xi’s leadership, the CCP has exhibited a shift from authoritarianism to totalitarianism, eliminating the two-term limit, centralizing power, purging political rivals, disciplining elites, and engaging in human rights violations. This shift has raised questions about whether China’s transformation is genuinely a triumph of socialism, as Xi insists, or a result of access to foreign capital, technology, and participation in the globalizing liberal rules-based market initiated by Deng.

The CCP’s socialist state-directed market capitalism, while lifting millions from poverty, presents a dilemma for the Chinese population. They find themselves caught between poverty and party control, questioning whether development through less state intervention and greater freedom within a global market capitalist economy might be a more desirable path than sacrificing for the socialist utopia.

When evaluating the CCP’s development model for global applicability, it’s crucial to highlight that the success of CCP development in China hinges on party authority, political control through isolationism, economic liberalism, and continued access to global resources and markets. This model, however, poses challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, encompassing political issues such as threats to democracy and human rights, as well as economic concerns like debt traps and environmental sustainability.

The CCP’s narrative, attributing success to socialism, challenges the global order and poses threats to liberalism, capitalism, human rights, and democracy, as it necessitates political control and party authority. This raises concerns about the potential emergence of a new Cold War, as states dependent on the stability of the current globalizing liberal rules-based market system seek to protect it.

The CCP’s present narrative, emphasizing its development as a socialist success, not only poses a threat to its own development but also to that of other states. This politicized approach to development serves the survival of the elite vanguard political party, compromising economic development and requiring individual sacrifices, making it less viable in the broader context.

Beijing’s approach is hegemonic and poses a threat to global stability. While the CCP may sustain China’s domestic development due to its size, smaller states lack this capacity and depend on the rules-based liberal global market that underpins global development. Countering hegemonies and ensuring the security of democratic Indo-Pacific states may necessitate the formation of mercantilist blocs.

States in the Indo-Pacific region must pursue unique development models, seek external support aligned with their goals and the globalizing world order, and resist interventions that undermine their unity. Creating a common understanding of the China–US rivalry and implementing region-wide policies can enable collaborative interaction for the benefit of viable development.

The CCP’s development model is intricate and often misunderstood. In an era of great power competition, the CCP’s approach to development holds far-reaching implications for China and the Indo-Pacific. This discussion underscores the need for a nuanced understanding of the dynamic landscape and the importance of formulating strategic responses to these challenges. As nations navigate the complexities of global development, finding a delicate balance between domestic priorities and global integration will be crucial for sustainable progress in the Indo-Pacific region.


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