In the face of global stagnation, strategic planners in the new multipolar world are desperately seeking solutions for economic growth. The “Hefei model,” based on the Six Capital Model developed in Hefei, China, offers promising possibilities for transformative development. Its success can be attributed to the integration of physical, institutional, human, intellectual, financial, and social capital. This model can be applied not only in Hefei but also in other regions like China, Russia, India, and various African countries to achieve rapid development in a controlled manner in the post-COVID multipolar world.
Drawing from the Hefei experience, a Networked Growth Manifesto has been formulated, highlighting key insights and underlying principles for achieving growth. These insights focus not only on individual policies but also on the importance of visionary leadership and unconventional approaches. By examining what the Hefei government did not do, these principles offer a fresh perspective on achieving transformative growth.
One key principle is the prioritization of entrepreneurial politics over material factors in what is termed the “new localism” paradigm. The role of political leaders in initiating and sustaining economic growth is highlighted, emphasizing their ability to create a business-friendly environment and actively participate in the transformation process. This stands in contrast to the passive approach of many Western politicians who merely create laws and regulations. The power of local governments in driving multidimensional growth is also emphasized, suggesting a decentralized approach to governance where smaller autonomous units are entrusted with their own development.
To kickstart the transformation process, the concept of “locally enriched centralism” is proposed, where a small area within a country is designated as a model city and governed by leaders from a successful city like Singapore or Hefei. The success of this model can then be used to expand its implementation to other regions. This approach avoids a center-periphery dichotomy and instead promotes the formation of a multicentric portfolio of growth, complementing the nation’s center.
Another important principle focuses on building institutional capital through the establishment of elite universities with open boundaries. The University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei is highlighted as a catalyst for attracting top talent and creating valuable human capital. Emphasis is placed on offering a broad education that includes the social sciences and humanities, as well as rigorous admission tests to ensure the best and brightest graduates. This contrasts with the current trend in the West, where ideology often takes precedence over performance.
In summary, the Hefei model and the Networked Growth Manifesto offer innovative approaches to achieving transformative development in the face of global challenges. By prioritizing entrepreneurial politics, embracing the power of local governments, and investing in elite universities, strategic planners in various regions can ignite economic growth and tackle the numerous social and economic issues of our time. The success of Hefei serves as a shining example and provides hope for a brighter future in the multipolar world.