Germany and China must strive to be new globalisation partners that other G20 summit members can follow, says Jia Wenshan.
The 12th meeting of the G20 will be held on 7 and 8 July in Hamburg, Germany, under the theme “Shaping an interconnected world”. This theme consists of the following three major global agendas: to ensure economic stability, to enhance sustainability into a shared future; and to push for responsible development.
For those who followed last year’s G20 summit in Hangzhou this will seem familiar. While there are minor differences, there appears to be much consistency and continuity in what the two summits are covering.
The Hangzhou summit emphasised co-ordinated innovation-drive action among the G20 members in addressing the prolonged sluggishness of the global economy, and in Hamburg at least some of the agenda items apparently resonate with that.
However, some challenges put before the two summits differ. While the former faced the impending challenges of anti-globalisation, isolationism and nationalism posed by traditional globalisation champions such as the United States and Britain, the latter faces such challenges of anti-globalisation, protectionism/isolationism, and nationalism being institutionalised by both the US and Britain led by their new isolationist governments.
"Germany needs to establish a shared vision about the global future with a globalist China"
On the positive side, China is a new global champion for globalisation and Germany is a defender of free trade and globalisation, so there have been similar agendas for global economic development.
On the plus side, too, the Belt and Road Initiative, as a new global public good created by China, centres on creating global interconnectivity in a variety of dimensions such as international policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and among cultures/faiths, and overlaps significantly with the mission, themes and agendas of the two G20 summits.
China has won wide global support since the Belt and Road Forum for International Co-operation was held in Beijing in May. Implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative gives great impetus for the execution of the similar agendas set by China and Germany at the two summits. So the fuller embrace of the Belt and Road Initiative by Germany, and by extension the European Union’s embrace, along with other members of the G20, is necessary to effectively deal with such challenges and push through the G20 agendas.
There is more commonality, more shared interest, and more of a shared global future beyond what Germany and indeed some Chinese can see so far. However, Germany needs to establish more of a shared vision about the global future with a globalist China, particularly with regard to the public nature, altruistic purpose, and the global potential benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative.
China is the largest developing country in the world championing new globalisation. Germany is the economically strongest developed country that defends free trade and globalisation. The two represent two kinds of forces within the Group of 20.
In the global context of increasing uncertainty due to the US and Britain’s actions of antiglobalisation, isolationism and nationalism, the G20 can forge ahead for a more stable, more sustainable, and more responsible global economy only if the two groups of countries unite.
With so much in common between the agendas of their G20 summits, Germany and China just need to have trust and confidence, will and determination to be new globalisation partners that other members can follow.
The author is professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, and a fellow of the National Academy for Development and Strategy, Renmin University of China.