This week, China’s president Hu Jintao has been meeting with President Obama in Washington. The Chinese-US relationship has become increasingly important for both economies, yet there was opposition to the visit. Some oppose China’s stance on human rights and others are concerned about China’s monetary policy, which artificially inflates the value of the yuan. The political and economic opposition puts pressure on both sides, making it harder to negotiate.

In Huffington Post, Blythe McGarvie argues in the article “President Hu and Negotiations” that to better understand the Chinese position, it is important to know the “Beijing Consensus.” She writes:

“Joshua Cooper Ramo coined the term “Beijing Consensus” in 2004 in his 60-page Foreign Policy Centre article as he described China’s approach to new development. He states, “it is defined by a ruthless willingness to innovate and experiment, by a lively defense of national borders and interests, and by the increasingly thoughtful accumulation of tools of asymmetric power projection.” The Consensus addresses both the global balance of power and domestic issues such as quality of life and social and economic change.”

The Beijing Consensus has three main theorems:

1. “Chinese leaders who want to keep options open and preserve flexibility …. The only true path to success is one that is dynamic and responsive; no single plan works for every situation.”

2. “…Chinese behavior “demands a development model where [sic] sustainability and equality become first considerations, not luxuries.”

3. “China’s leaders want a peaceful rise by using economic leverage to keep the U.S. in check and assure China’s own financial sovereignty.”

Cultural differences also matter, as we have discussed previously on Negotiation Space. Matthew Edwards provides some more points to consider in the blog post “Negotiation skills when doing business in China,” published in Flying Solo. Two important points are that the Chinese don’t like to say no, which leads to different outcomes that what seemed to be agreed upon.

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