As part of a shift toward a more activist foreign policy, China has accelerated its engagement in minilateralism, which is the gathering of a sub-group of countries within or outside a multilateral institution to solve a problem when the multilateral institution is unable to reach agreements among its members. This paper examines China’s minilateral diplomacy in the financial area. Although China has been involved in regional financial cooperation for the last 15 years, its recent minilateral initiatives, such as the New Development Bank, the Contingent Reserve Arrangement and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, are far more China-centred. What are China’s motivations? Will these minilateral schemes undermine the traditional multilateral institutions? This paper argues that the Chinese government seeks to use financial minilateralism to stimulate reform of global financial institutions, provide financial public goods for its regional neighbours and fellow developing countries, as well as directly promote China’s economic and political interests. China’s financial minilateralism is not meant to overthrow the existing multilateral institutions, but this could change depending on the interaction between how the world responds to China’s new activism and the domestic political dynamics in China. Western countries should understand and accommodate China’s aspirations and encourage China to keep its minilateralism open.

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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.
  • Hongying Wang (王红缨) is a CIGI senior fellow and teaches political science at the University of Waterloo. She studies Chinese politics and foreign policy as well as international political economy.