China in the G20 Summitry: Review and Decision-making Process

CIGI Papers No. 46

October 15, 2014

As the largest emerging economy, China believes that the Group of Twenty (G20), instead of the Group of Eight (G8), is the ideal platform for its participation in global governance. This paper examines the reasons why China joined the G20 rather than the G8, and then focuses on a detailed review of China’s participation in G20 summits since the enhanced forum began in 2008. China took a very active and cooperative attitude in dealing with the global financial crisis in 2008-2009. The paper observes that China also insisted on its own agenda for reforms to the international monetary system, through reforms to the international financial institutions that manage it — in particular, raising the number of voting shares and the representation of developing countries at the IMF and the World Bank.

Based on the reviews of China’s performance in the G20 summits since 2008, the paper explores China’s policy making through its participation in the G20, determining that it is shaped by several major economic departments in addition to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and coordinated by a vice premier responsible for economic and financial affairs.

The paper concludes that China has gained immensely from its participation in the G20. Most importantly, China entered the centre stage of global economic governance through the G20, which allowed the country to demonstrate that it is a responsible great power, and communicate and maintain relations with other major powers. The main challenges China has faced since joining the G20, from the perspective of some Chinese scholars, are a lack of capacity for agenda setting and shaping initiatives, as well as inadequate communication and coordination among different government departments and between the Sherpa and financial tracks of the G20.

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CIGI Papers present in-depth analysis and discussion on governance-related subjects. They include policy papers that present CIGI experts' positions or contributions to policy debates, and background papers that contain research findings, insights and data that contribute to the development of policy positions.

About the Author

Xingqiang (Alex) He is a CIGI research fellow. Alex is an expert on China and global economic governance, the Group of Twenty, domestic politics in China and their role in China’s foreign economic policy making, and Canada-China economic relations.