André SchneiderBefore looking at the significance of the Tahrir Square events, let’s remind ourselves about what is commonly understood by the “Beijing consensus.” This term is used to describe an alternative plan for development in the emerging world and was first presented in a paper by Joshua Cooper Ramo in 2004. This alternative approach proposes a new way of addressing the challenges posed by the changing economic and social environment; specifically, a rejection of per capita GDP as the be-all and end-all of development priorities, and the need for self-determination–an emphasis on the importance for developing countries to actively seek independence from external pressure as imposed by “hegemonic powers”. It does not automatically refer to a system based on a marriage between an authoritarian one-party system and capitalism, as erroneously presented in the article in Le Monde.

If we now take a closer look at what happened at Tahrir Square, while the event is portrayed as an important ideological battle in Le Monde, and one which will determine the future, or more specifically the end, of the “Beijing consensus”, I do not agree with this interpretation. In my view, the revolt is a reminder for us, in the clearest terms, of a crucial principle for government leaders: when young people do not feel understood anymore, and do not believe in their government’s capacity to offer them a real prospect for their future, then they will rise up. This uprising will succeed when the general population shares a common lack of faith in a highly corrupt class of government leaders acting with impunity, with its ensuing social injustice and exclusion. Modern technology enables such movements to gain in size and momentum via today’s world of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.


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André Schneider has been World Economic Forum’s Chief Operating Officer for the last 8 years. He has traveled China thoroughly for the last 5 years. His consultancy, André Schneider Global Advisory, was created at the end of 2010.