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John Ross: China plays a key role in setting G20 agenda


By John Ross    Source: Renmin    Published: 2016-9-4

The G20 summit meets against the backdrop of two interrelated global issues.First,since the international financial crisis global growth has been slow. Second, asa result social and geopolitical crises have persisted. China’s proposals for the G20 summit – an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive economy –simultaneously and in an integrated way address both issues.

China’s four proposals are inseparably connected:

Innovation, in technology and in management, logistics, skills and ideas, is indispensable for sustained economic development.

But innovation purely in ideas is insufficient to lead to sustained economic development. Advances in ICT technology, for example, had to be embodied in investment in internet and computer technologyto produce productivity gains. Therefore, the global economy must be invigorated through increased investment, new trade liberalisation agreements, new financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and modifications in global economic governance. This requires drawing on numerous resources in global economy and finance.

Development is most powerful if internationally integrated. Since Adam Smithfounded modern economics it has been known that the most powerful force developing productivity is division of labour, which in a globalised economy necessarily includes international division of labour.Retreats into protectionism deeply damage the world economy. But advancing international division of labour requires not only legal trade and investment agreements but development of internationally integrated infrastructure making such trade possible and supporting international investment. Such integration highlights the importance of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’initiative,while China supports economic integration in Africa, Latin America, Europe and elsewhere.

Development must be inclusive both between and withincountries.Failure of sections of the world’s population to benefit from economic development is dangerous politically. Impoverishment of sections of the population and social disintegration has led to terrorist organisations gaining support, andin some cases open warfare, in parts of Africa and the Middle East. Within advanced economies failure of parts of the population to gain from economic growth strengthens protectionist and xenophobic forces which threaten global economic integration and therefore global prosperity.

Success in developing innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive economic growth will therefore lessen geopolitical and social tensions.

China is in an unequalled position to give leadership on this G20 agenda not only theoretically but due to China’s practical achievements in dealing both with the international financial crisis and over the longer term.From 2007, the last year before the financial crisis, to 2015 China accounted for 46% of world growth measured at current exchange rates – compared to 22% for the second placed US.China was the world economy’s most powerful engine to face the international financial crisis, benefitting both advanced and developing economies.

World Bank data shows 83% of the world’s population still lives in developing countries. Economic development therefore remains the most pressing issue facing humanity. China, the world’s largest developing economy, increased its per capita GDP, the fundamental index of economic development, from 2007 to 2015 by 86% - the fastest of any G20 country.

China playsa key G20 agenda setting role because, in addition to these shorter term anti-crisis trends, China’s historical economic and social achievements areunprecedented.From 1978 onwards China experienced the most rapid economic growth in a major economy in human history. China lifted 728 million people from World Bank defined poverty, 83% of the reduction of those living in poverty in the world. This is greatest contribution of any country to human well-being.

But despite theseachievements China’s stress on integrated inclusive growth means China has no conception it can successfully develop alone. Instead China advocates strengthening the G20’s role. G20 economies account for 85% of world GDP, including the largest advanced and developing economies. The G20 is therefore provides an unequalled forum to coordinate measures to deal with the world’s most pressing economic issues.

China’s proposals for an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive economy are therefore crucial not only for this year’s Hangzhou summit but a step towards the G20s strategic development.

The author is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.  

Key Words: China   agenda   global governance  

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