OPINION / OBSERVER
Cornwall Consensus a sign that neoliberalism is at crossroads
Published: Jun 17, 2021 10:17 PM
China smear Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

China smear Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

"The era of one country or a bloc of countries dictating world affairs is over." This is a quote from Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, on Tuesday.

Regrettably, some countries are still holding on to their dreams of being the lords of the world. To legitimatize and rationalize their paranoia, they have shaped a target - China. They thus make a fuss about China on any topic that is even slightly related to the so-called Western values.

Even though China has deeply amazed Westerners with quite a number of remarkable achievements, the West refuses to recognize the success of the Chinese model, be it the country's industrial policies, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative that has prompted global cooperation, or the unselfish contribution China has made to the world's COVID-19 fight. 

Instead, some so-called Western elites have come up with a self-deceiving tactic: They copy China's methods, and deny doing so while pretending to have made great efforts to figure those methods out. Simultaneously, they continue demonizing China's methods. Pity! 

Based on such norm, a committee of academics and policymakers from each member of the G7 released an advisory memo entitled, "The Cornwall Consensus: Build Forward Better," before the G7 summit. 

This 1.5-page memo wrote, "The G7 should lead on agreeing a new consensus and restore public trust in a rules-based, free, fair and open economic system. This new consensus would make sure that economic growth is green and inclusive, and makes us resilient against environmental, economic and geopolitical risks."

Wait a minute. Aren't these proposed moves what China has done or is doing? 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, noted that copying China's methods is already normal in the West, especially in the US. 

"In recent years, the US Congress approved bills of large investments in the economy and technology. Such bills used to spark controversy but now they can be easily passed. American elites feel perceived pressure from China, and more because they believe that China succeeded this way," Li said.

When the term "Washington Consensus" was coined decades ago, it described a set of reforms aimed at reinvigorating economies in Latin America and other countries. As for its effect, people know what happened in the following years. In other words, the practice of Western ideas of governance has brought more chaos to the international community in the past decades. Those ideas were actually flawed, but the West didn't have any reference back then. Now they have China, but they refuse to speak well of the Chinese model, even though they have imitated it. 

The Washington Consensus was created when neoliberalism was prevailing. But it has lost its charm. The proposal of the Cornwall Consensus is proof. According to Li, the Cornwall Consensus demonstrates that China's success has made the West realize that if they do not make adjustments, the current and future international system and order may no longer go in the direction they wish. However, the West is reluctant to admit its own problems and to take measures to fix them. Engaging in empty words is of no benefit to the West. 

"The G7 should also recognize its responsibility to reflect the interests of the wider international community, particularly emerging and developing economies," wrote the memo. 

However, used to unite as a strong one, the West is now split with a stained reputation and declining strength, after making too many mistakes in the past decades. Such being the case, it is not easy for the West to put itself back on a healthy track, let alone to lead the world. Who can really trust the West of today? 

Western countries hope to recover their old glory and sustain their advantage in making international rules and order.

"But there is a big gap between this wish and the reality," Li noted.
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