Agenda may tar­get pro­tec­tion­ism

China Daily (USA) - - TIBET - By ANDREWMOODY andrewmoody @chi­

RanaMit­ter be­lieves China host­ing the G20 sum­mit in Hangzhou is a his­toric event for the world’s sec­ond-largest econ­omy.

The di­rec­tor of the Dick­son Poon Univer­sity of Ox­ford China Cen­tre ar­gues it could also be a piv­otal mo­ment in the coun­try’s re­la­tion­ship with other lead­ing nations.

“It ce­ments China’s place in the global eco­nomic com­mu­nity.”

Mit­ter, 47 and re­garded as one of the world’s lead­ing Si­nol­o­gists, says also the G20 it­self is now in­creas­ingly a more im­por­tant body than the G8 in that it more ac­cu­rately re­flects the com­po­si­tion of the global econ­omy.

“Since the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, the G20 has con­tin­ued to grow in im­por­tance, whereas 20 years ago, the G7 or the G8 (from which China is ex­cluded) were more the fo­cus. The emerg­ing economies, which were not once part of the tra­di­tional lead­er­ship of the world econ­omy, are not go­ing to go away and are go­ing to con­tinue to grow in im­por­tance.”

The his­to­rian says stag­ing the G20 can be com­pared to Bei­jing’s host­ing of the Olympics in 2008 and also the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

“I would say it is a con­fir­ma­tion that China sits among the global elite, par­tic­u­larly when you are talk­ing about the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sphere.”

He says that while it might not at­tract the same au­di­ence as the Olympics, it is still a very im­por­tant event, par­tic­u­larly for the world’s key de­ci­sion-mak­ers.

The aca­demic also ar­gues the G20 — and, in par­tic­u­lar, host­ing the sum­mit — gives China the chance to prove to ev­ery­one that it wants to be a strong part of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity fight­ing for ev­ery­one’s in­ter­ests and not just its own.

“Events like the G20 are re­ally im­por­tant in show­ing that China sees it­self as part of a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic struc­ture and that it’s not sim­ply en­ter­ing into it with purely China’s in­ter­ests at heart.

“It is a sign that China has had to be­come a big­ger player and is go­ing to be held up to global stan­dards rather than sim­ply its own as­sess­ment of how it does.”

Mit­ter, who stud­ied Chi­nese at Cam­bridge Univer­sity and was a Kennedy scholar at Har­vard, has been di­rec­tor of the Ox­ford Univer­sity China Cen­tre, nowone of the world’s lead­ing in­sti­tu­tions for Chi­nese stud­ies, since 2013.

He is a par­tic­u­lar spe­cial­ist in China’s World War II pe­riod and has writ­ten a num­ber of lead­ing books, in­clud­ing China’sWarWithJa­pan193745:theStrug­gle­forSur­vival, which was de­scribed by Henry Kissinger as an “im­por­tant and mov­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the his­tor­i­cal record”.

Mit­ter be­lieves one of the ma­jor items of the sum­mit agenda will be how to re­spond to pro­tec­tion­ism and avoid the global econ­omy fol­low­ing the dan­ger­ous path of the 1930s that led to Great De­pres­sion. Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump has said he wants to im­pose a 45 per­cent tar­iff wall on im­ported Chi­nese goods.

“Free trade is of­ten a lit­tle bit like Saint Au­gus­tine, ‘Make me chaste Lord, but not yet’. In other words, coun­tries gen­er­ally like to gain the fullest ad­van­tage they can from pro­tec­tion­ism and mer­can­til­ism, make them­selves strong and then say ev­ery­one else should trade freely,” he says.

“So it will be in­ter­est­ing at the G20 whether there is any se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion about the in­te­gra­tion of re­gional economies and cre­at­ing a bet­ter frame­work for free trade.”

He be­lieves, how­ever, there will be calls for more fis­cal ex­pan­sion to com­bat slug­gish eco­nomic growth and a move away from the aus­ter­ity poli­cies that have been the dom­i­nant or­tho­doxy since the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

“China has be­come a more de­vel­oped econ­omy in­signif­i­cant ways over the last decade. It is now suf­fer­ing the prob­lems that many coun­tries have when they reach the mid­dle in­come zone and the old medicine no longer works,” Mit­ter said.

“I might not have imag­ined ex­actly what was go­ing to take place but I was aware that China had many pe­ri­ods of great pros­per­ity. In a sense there is an ar­gu­ment that its pre­vi­ous his­tory had been an anom­aly and China re­turn­ing to a po­si­tion where— be­cause of its size, pop­u­la­tion and geo­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion — it would be­come a more sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic ac­tor again was only nat­u­ral.”

I would say it is a con­fir­ma­tion that China sits among the global elite, par­tic­u­larly when you are talk­ing about the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sphere.” Rana Mit­ter, di­rec­tor of the Dick­son Poon Univer­sity of Ox­ford China Cen­tre

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