Push for greater role in economic decision-making

Updated: 2015-11-13 08:12

By Fu Jing(China Daily Europe)

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"By its mere existence, the AIIB is already a game changer, in a geopolitical sense," he says.

Chin says this is because for recipient countries it is an alternative to the Asian Development Bank, because the AIIB's membership extends beyond Asia, and because the AIIB will set precedents that have implications for the World Bank and other regional development banks beyond Asia.

"But to be a more profound game changer, in terms of bringing true developmental benefit to its recipients, the real challenges lie ahead," Chin says.

Most importantly, he says, the AIIB must be based on financing and assistance policies, lending practices and standards that are deemed useful and just by the recipients as well as the donors.

"This is a serious challenge, as the existing lenders can tell. Also, the AIIB would need to be based on more effective, efficient and equitable internal governance and operational arrangements than those that exist in the established organizations."

As China has taken an ever greater role in tackling global problems, the response from the world has been mixed. Belgium, for example, stood impassively by earier this year as its Western European allies became founding members of the AIIB, but has now entered the application process.

About half of European countries and the European Commission have applied to be part of the new institution.

"There are divisions around in Europe, but I don't think they are infectious," Erixon says. "European countries are on board and they will participate, albeit as junior partners. The European Commission has neither the resources nor the legal platform to join the AIIB, so that should not be surprising."

Chin says Europe now seems to be split in three: those that see China as a threat to so-called European ways; those that see engaging China more as an opportunity and a necessity, especially given the shifts in the balance of global economic and political power, despite any risks to "European ways"; and those who see China still mainly as an opportunity, but also as a potential medium-term threat to the economic and political interests of the powerful inside Europe, as China's presence expands in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in Western Europe.

Pamlin says opinions on China's leading role in Europe are divided.

"I think most welcome a more balanced international system and a more proactive China. The reason for the lack of interest in many cases has more to do with internal struggles where many European leaders struggle at home. With the tensions within the EU, many feel it is best to focus on solving the internal crisis before engaging more in initiatives like AIIB."

As to how China could perform an even greater role globally, Glyn Ford, a former member of the European Parliament who has observed China for years, says the country's rising power and global influence is self-evident but it needs more work in communication.

"Despite the efforts of the recent years, China's public diplomacy performance is still lacking. It is very difficult for China to depart from its very rhetorical and standardized way of communicating; this hampers China's diplomatic efforts. And this should be the challenges Beijing faces in further boosting its global influence."

Pamlin says China has been highlighting the benefits of collaboration, but he still thinks there is room for more win-win approaches, not the least when it comes to the role of civil society in global governance processes.

"I think it is important to understand that all significant change will meet with obstacles. This is not necessarily a bad thing. What will be an important balance to strike for China is to pursue initiatives that help China address the challenges of its new modernization phase."

China will go through restructuring at a time of demographic changes and environmental pressures, and technology will change faster than ever before.

"On the other hand, the way China engages in global challenges will also shape the future of the world," Pamlin says. "These are big words, but it is true. How China will approach this role will be crucial."

Instead of the "one-man show" that the US has pursued, Pamlin says, the world needs dialogue and a network-focused China.

"This is very much along the lines China has acted so far, but we need a China that helps put global challenges on the agenda."

Pamlin says there is a unique opportunity for China during the G20 presidency next year to initiate a global forum to tackle global risks through collaboration.

"Instead of only identifying problems, China could set up a process where a global risk initiative delivers suggestions for how these risks can be turned into drivers of innovation."



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