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G20 shouldn’t be distracted by geopolitics

Alwihda Info | Par peoplesdaily - 31 Août 2016

By Liu Zongyi Source:Global Times, People’s Daily

The 11th G20 summit is set to convene in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, on September 4-5. In order to host a successful summit, China has made thorough preparations. Since assuming the G20 presidency on December 1, the country has hosted a series of high-level meetings, where many valuable suggestions were made, laying a foundation for the success of the summit.

The present-day G20 is the world's primary platform to discuss global economic issues and is the most representative global economic governance mechanism. The success of the Hangzhou summit hinges on whether it can solicit a consensus on global economic development, lead the world out of economic doldrums and inject vigor into the world economy for long-term development. 

Multiple reasons account for the lackluster global economy. There has been a lack of new emerging industries or impetus to drive growth. Against the background of globalization, coordination, fair systems and rules, and long-term planning are absent in the world economy. 

Besides, the uneven distribution of social interests and unbalanced economic development have given rise to trade protectionism and even a trend of de-globalization. 

In view of those conundrums, China has proposed building an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive global economy. It hopes to revive the world economy and growth through driving structural reform, enhancing economic connectivity and infrastructural construction, re-boosting international trade and investment, as well as creating fairer and more reasonable rules for economic growth. 

From this point of view, the agenda setting of the Hangzhou summit is highly relevant. Besides, China has coordinated relevant parties and taken into consideration their interests and concerns. Therefore, it's likely that most of the Chinese proposals will be supported by the other G20 members. 

The success of the summit also depends on whether the G20 mechanism itself can see innovation. The G20 was initially founded to tackle issues of global crisis. Nevertheless, given the problems plaguing the global economy, its functions are not only confined to crisis-solving. It also needs to advance reforms of the current international systems and rules to prevent crisis effectively. 

The G20 transformation includes reforming the international systems and restructuring the international order. Emerging countries, including China, don't want to totally topple the prevailing systems. Instead, they push for gradual reforms. G20's transformation is destined to be a time-consuming process, but it must have a clear-cut objective. 

The Hangzhou summit has made at least two breakthroughs. Firstly, it gives priority to development for the first time in global macro policy framework; secondly, it offers the most seats to developing countries than ever before. This shows the representativeness and inclusiveness of the G20 summit. Besides, it indicates that the agenda of the G20 no longer only pays attention to the short-term problems that concerned the G7, but is turning to deep-seated and long-term ones. The G20 is no longer the extension of G7, but will truly become the center of global economic governance. 

But the Hangzhou summit may not fulfill all designed goals. So far, the G20 members have failed to make a progress in coordinating macroeconomic policies. Although they will express their willingness for macroeconomic coordination in the joint statement of the summit and come up with concrete action plans to bolster the morale of global economy and display a united stance, it is highly concerned whether the willingness and plans can be put into practice. The G20 summit joint statement is not binding.

The success of the summit also requires some countries to restrain their impulse for geopolitical competition. It is possible that geopolitical topics such as the South and East China Seas will be raised at the summit by a very few countries with ulterior motives. 

Including controversial geopolitical issues into the agenda doesn't conform to the purposes of the G20. China has learned from the G20 St. Petersburg summit in 2013, which was distracted by the Syria issue. Any attempt to use geopolitical conflicts to disturb the Hangzhou summit is doomed to fail. 

The author is a senior fellow of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and a visiting fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. [email protected]

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