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Foreign Policy

China’s Role at G20: Team Player and Growth Driver

Sep 21 , 2016
  • He Yafei

    former Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

China has convened the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, producing a shining report of achievements ranging from promoting world economic growth, effectively tackling global challenges and reforming global governance architecture.

Today the world economy has arrived at another critical crossroads since the financial crisis in 2008. Against such a big picture, China has met great expectations from the international community in mobilizing the G20 into agreeing to “five major consensus” with Chinese thinking and Chinese proposals that will certainly give a boost to the world economy and to global governance.

First, let’s talk about growth. G20 has been committed from the very beginning to powerful, sustainable, balanced and inclusive world economic growth. The recent reality check shows that the long and heavy shadow of the financial crisis is still with us. The world economy has entered a transition period between old and new scientific, technological and industrial revolutions, which manifests in anemic growth for a prolonged timeframe. In major economies, we are witnessing the phenomenon of aging societies, inward looking and rising protectionism underpinned by surging anti-globalization which has buffeted economic globalization and multilateral trading system, slowed down world trade and investment and given rise to accumulated financial risks of high leverage and expanding bubbles.

The test for G20 Hangzhou Summit is obvious. With huge efforts from China and others, G20 has scored highly commended achievements in terms of growth, including its commitment to strengthen macro policy communication and coordination, a strategy to support innovation-based economic growth, reiteration by G20 leaders to continue fighting protectionism and promoting global free trade and investment.

Second, China has succeeded in having G20 agree to put development agenda in a prominent position of global macro policy framework for the first time in history. In the final analysis, the imbalance and inequality in world economic development comes from underdevelopment of many developing countries. Hangzhou Summit has decided to have an action plan for the implementation of the UNSDGs by 2030 and issued “The G20 Initiative to Support Industrialization of Africa and Least Developing Countries” as well as “The Initiative to Form a Global Alliance for Infrastructure Connectivity” which will definitely bring solid benefits to a vast number of developing countries. China is a member of the developing world and firmly believes that developing nations must have a greater voice and better representation in global governance. Thus China invited quite a few developing countries to take part in G20 Hangzhou Summit, with a goal of better and more balanced global governance.

By way of example, China has on many occasions expressed willingness to share the benefits of its economic growth and developmental model with others. President Xi has said repeatedly that China welcomes other nations to “ride the China express”. China put forward the “One Belt & One Road” Initiative exactly for this purpose of common development with other countries, especially developing ones. No one should be left behind in global economic growth!

Third, China has, through the Hangzhou Summit, led the G20 in the right direction for global governance reform and transformation of G20 — from a crisis management mechanism to the primary platform for long-term economic governance, from focusing on short term policy issues to formulating median-to-long-term policies.

With China leading the way at the Summit, many important decisions were made, including measures to improve global economic and financial governance, further reform of the IMF and other international financial institutions, expanding the use of SDR, strengthening international taxation cooperation, and working together to meet such global challenges as climate change, energy security and corruption. One typical example is that heads of state from China and the US submitted during the summit formal instruments to UN Secretary-General (UNSG) to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

China’s ever-deepening involvement in G20 affairs and global governance demonstrates the historic changes taking place in China’s relations with the rest of the world. President Xi expressed philosophically that China now stands at a new starting line in history. It is also a vivid display of China fulfilling its responsibility as a major global power.

This new starting line also means China will continue to deepen reform and openness which is going to provide greater impetus and new driving force to China’s growth under “the new normal”.

Lastly, the worldwide coverage of G20 Hangzhou Summit is quite positive and encouraging as countries both “north and south” agree that China has shown its determination through this summit to build “a garden of a hundred flowers” rather than its own “backyard” in pursuit of building a community of nations with “common interests and a common destiny”.

China has once again proven itself to be a team player, a contributor and important moving force to the existing global system including governance architecture, which dispels the mud-slinging from a few Western nations about China disrupting the international system as it grows stronger. With so many solid upticks from the G20 Hangzhou Summit, people begin to see more clearly the cultural DNA of China that upholds peace and harmony as the core of Chinese value system.

Just one more example. At the G20 Hangzhou Summit, members agreed for the first time to coordinate their macro policies, which says a lot about the cohesiveness of G20 in turning itself into an “economic steering committee” of the world. It is imperative for G20 members to play the same tune in global economic governance in order to spur sustainable economic growth and tackle the cluster of global challenges emerging today. Despite geopolitical differences and divisions, major powers have been able to come together under the banner of the G20 with China playing a unifying role. That is no small achievement in this turbulent world we live in.

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