HANGZHOU (China): Amid blue skies, closed factories and schools, the iconic West Lake radiates serenity amid the frenzied security drill and hubbub of international diplomacy. With China, anything is possible, and the sheer scale of ambition is staggering as China hosts its first summit of the world’s major and emerging economies in the eastern city of Hangzhou, the refuge of poets and dreamers and now the hub of entrepreneurs, innovators like the legendary Jack Ma of Alibaba and a symbol of China’s global aspirations.
What’s on agenda?
As world leaders touch down in Hangzhou for the 11th G20 summit (September 4-5), all eyes will be on China, which is aspiring to lead the push for global growth and reform of the international financial architecture that remains heavily tilted in favour of developed countries despite the tectonic shift of economic gravity from the west to the rest. With the global economy stuck in a prolonged slowdown, and the International Monetary Fund cutting its forecast for global growth from 3.2 to 3.1 percent, the overarching agenda at the G20 summit will be enhanced across-the-spectrum international collaboration to restore global growth and create a new paradigm of inclusive and sustained development.
The focus will be on the two Asian giants – India and China – which have defied the global slowdown and are still growing rapidly, emerging as beacons of hope in times of crisis. China, which has plateaued to the new normal growth rate of around 6.7-7 per cent, is still expected to be a major engine of global growth.
India has emerged as the fastest growing economy, clocking over 7 per cent plus growth. But the continuing slowdown in the developed world and some emerging economies remains a source of worry. Against this backdrop, the Hangzhou summit is expected to see renewed discussions on checking protectionism and will hopefully come out with concrete initiatives to remove trade barriers to boost global trade flows.
The summit, themed around building an integrated, innovative, inclusive and interconnected world economy, is expected to focus on innovation and digital economy as major drivers of global growth in days to come.
China’s G20 Moment
For China, the G20 summit is a perfect opportunity to underscore its rising global profile and burnish its ambitions to play a bigger role on the world stage amid backlash following Beijing’s rejection of an adverse verdict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, repudiating its claims to the South China Sea. China is hoping that the G20 summit will help restore its credentials as a rule-abiding and agenda-setter global player. Shifting the spotlight from the South China Sea ferment, Beijing is expected to flaunt its economic weight and project that the Chinese economy, which contributed 30 percent to global economic growth last year, will continue to be the “driver” and “anchor” this year as well, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei has said.
Why Hangzhou? The Xi Connection
For China’s President Xi Jinping, the G20 summit in Hangzhou has a personal connection and an emotive resonance. President Xi has fond memories of living in the city for five years where he served as the Communist Party chief of Zhejiang province. Hangzhou has transformed since Xi’s early days into a hub of high-tech manufacturing and innovation, and it’s therefore fitting that Mr Xi has chosen China’s most beautiful city, a blend of the traditional and the modern, as a symbol of China’s surging global profile as he hosts what he hopes will be milestone G20 summit in initiating a new phase of international economic cooperation to restore global growth and revamp the archaic global governance architecture.
If he succeeds, the fabled blue skies of Hangzhou and the glowing West Lake, celebrated by poets Bai Juyi and Su Dongpo, will be remembered for offering a fresh burst of inspiration for reconfiguring the world order.
(Manish Chand is Editor-in-Chief and Founder-CEO of India Writes Network, an e-magazine and journal focused on international affairs and the India Story. He is in Hangzhou to report on and analyse the G20 summit).
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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