At a time when the annual Group of Eight summit is coming under fire for being outmoded and ill equipped to deal with the world's most pressing problems, there is one relatively easy way to reinvigorate the talks and make them relevant again: give China a seat at the table. The mainland is the world's sixth-largest economy and the already high degree of interdependence - as measured by investment from the outside world and exports to foreign markets - will only grow in coming years. Adjusted in terms of purchasing power parity, China accounted for a third of global growth in the past three years, while its appetite for raw materials has reached the point of being able to swing prices by entering or exiting the market. Far better to have such an economically important country firmly entrenched inside the rules-based international trade system than outside it. Over the years the G8 has evolved to take on more than just matters of finance and economics. The prominence of the Middle East and Iraq on this year's agenda is proof of that. Here, too, there are arguments in favour of integrating China. We proposed during last year's G8 meetings in Evian, France, at which President Hu Jintao took part in talks on the sidelines, that the grouping was in need of a strong voice from the developing world, and the same holds true today. Iraq, oil supplies, Middle East development, polio eradication and aid to poor African countries are on the agenda this year. Resolutions coming from the meeting would surely carry more weight if they had broader endorsement. Implementing them might, on the other hand, be easier if they were not perceived as dictates from rich, western nations. Beijing itself has been ambivalent about involvement with the G8. But the mainland's recent higher profile at the United Nations Security Council, Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum show there must be some among the nation's leaders who recognise the practical benefits of having influence on the agendas of such multilateral groupings. The nation's recent commitment of peacekeepers to world trouble spots and its willingness to speak out on post-handover arrangements in Iraq have, meanwhile, signalled its leaders' readiness to become engaged diplomatically as well as economically on the world stage. The primary argument in favour of China's membership remains an economic one. In the matter of oil supply and pricing alone, there is every reason for the world's second-largest importer to be involved in talks about the potential for the current oil-market crunch to derail a still-fragile global recovery. The mainland's importance to international commerce is such that its trade posture and monetary policies are of crucial concern. It is time to talk about turning the Group of Eight into the Group of Nine.