What is China’s role in global gov­er­nance?

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

With global gov­er­nance strug­gling to deal with in­creas­ingly thorny is­sues, such as Brexit and the slug­gish global eco­nomic re­cov­ery, glob­al­iza­tion has been in re­treat this year. Given this fact, China’s in­ten­si­fied ef­forts to en­gage in global gov­er­nance seem like a sil­ver lin­ing.

The suc­cess­ful G20 Lead­ers Sum­mit in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince, in Septem­ber added weight to the multi­na­tional bloc’s le­git­i­macy as the premier fo­rum on in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion. Fol­low­ing the sum­mit, China’s top leader Xi Jin­ping called for closer co­op­er­a­tion to re­form the global gov­er­nance sys­tem, and ad­vance peace and de­vel­op­ment in the world.

Xi’s re­marks, made dur­ing a study ses­sion at­tended by mem­bers of the Po­lit­i­cal Bureau of the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, show the Chi­nese lead­er­ship now bet­ter un­der­stands global gov­er­nance and Bei­jing is ready to make more con­tri­bu­tions to global gov­er­nance.

It should be made clear, though, that China is com­mit­ted to re­form­ing, not chang­ing, the ex­ist­ing global gov­er­nance in­sti­tu­tions, be­cause they are in ur­gent need of an over­haul. And the in­creas­ing deficit in global gov­er­nance high­lights the need to push for­ward the re­form.

China has made no­table progress in this re­gard. The Chi­nese cur­rency’s in­clu­sion in the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund’s Spe­cial Draw­ing Rights bas­ket of cur­ren­cies on Oct 1, giv­ing Bei­jing a big­ger say in the re­form of in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions is a case in point. So is Bei­jing’s rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Paris Agree­ment on cli­mate change.

China has also played a piv­otal role in re­gional govern- ance. Ad­dress­ing the APEC Eco­nomic Lead­ers’ Meet­ing in Lima, last month, Xi called on all par­ties con­cerned to help es­tab­lish a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pa­cific as an in­sti­tu­tional mech­a­nism to safe­guard free trade in the re­gion.

On China-Africa co­op­er­a­tion, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has made ex­tra ef­forts to im­ple­ment the ma­jor co­op­er­a­tive deals sealed in 2015 as well as the UN 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment. The Bei­jing-led Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive (Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and 21st Cen­tury Maritime Silk Road) and Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank, too, have gained fresh mo­men­tum this year. The AIIB, which opened for busi­ness in Jan­uary this year with the aim of mak­ing global eco­nomic gov­er­nance fairer, faces less op­po­si­tion be­cause 57 economies have be­come its mem­bers.

BRICS mem­bers, too, re­main united and com­mit­ted to their shared mis­sion of im­prov­ing the func­tions and man­age­ment of BRICS New De­vel­op­ment Bank. And the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship that China cham­pi­ons is ex­pected to fur­ther pro­mote free trade now that US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is ex­pected to scrap the so-called free trade deal, Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship Agree­ment.

The com­ing year will see China hold­ing a high-level in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion fo­rum on the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and the ninth BRICS sum­mit in Xi­a­men, Fu­jian prov­ince. And even though Ger­many will oc­cupy the G20 chair in 2017, China, as the chair for 2016, will re­main a part of the troika lead­er­ship, as past, present and fu­ture chairs come to­gether, to lead the bloc. It would thus be fair to say China will shoul­der more re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in global gov­er­nance in 2017. But that does not mean China is ea­ger to “fill the void” left by the West, as it is still a de­vel­op­ing coun­try. Of course, its fu­ture diplo­matic pri­or­ity will be to make global gov­er­nance fairer, for which all the ma­jor play­ers have to ful­fill their com­mit­ments.

The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal econ­omy at Ren­min Univer­sity of China and a dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor of Global Stud­ies at Zhe­jiang Nor­mal Univer­sity.

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