G20 gathering offers chance to shore up global confidence, says senior Chinese official
The G20 summit in Hangzhou in September offers leaders the chance to restore order and confidence in a world full of danger and risk, a Chinese deputy foreign minister has said.
Britain’s decision to divorce the European Union, the failed coup in Turkey and a slew of violent attacks in France and Germany are bringing fresh uncertainties to an already fragile world economy, minister Li Baodong told a G20 think-tank forum in Beijing.
“All sides have placed high expectations on the G20 Hangzhou summit, hoping it can map a way out the chaotic global situation and inject vitality into the weak world economy,” Li said.
His comments underscore Beijing’s desire to gain a bigger say in international affairs by taking advantage of its presidency of the bloc. China is trying to shift the grouping away from a mostly toothless talk shop towards an effective mechanism for global governance – one where Beijing can play an active role.
Li said China hoped the two-day gathering would yield an “innovation and growth blueprint”.
Among the leaders scheduled to attend are Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At the same time, China, now the world’s biggest exporting country, would try to boost cross-border trade and investment, Li said. China has already hosted a G20 trade minister meeting voicing concerns about protectionism.
Wu Xiaoqiu, a professor at Renmin University of China, said the bloc should not just be about “firefighting”. It should be a platform where members could “coordinate global policies” to address economic, trade and financial challenges, Wu said.
At the Chengdu meeting last week, which drew together financial ministers and central bankers, Beijing hailed progress in “structural reforms” with an agreement to a set of indicators to measure progress in economic reform. They agreed to use all possible means to boost growth and manage the effects of Brexit.
However, it remains an open question how persuasive China will be in September. On the domestic front, growth is losing steam, cheap steel exports are triggering protests in the United States and the European Union, while tensions remain high in the South China Sea.
“China is not trusted as a larger global leader,” said Christopher Balding, an associate professor at the HSBC Business School at Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, who was not at the think tank forum. “Neighbours and allies know Beijing will spend no political effort negotiating or doing anything less than what is absolutely best for it”, he said.