Other countries are getting fed up with China


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
Two weeks ago the New York Times' Keith Bradsher noted that China was not fully complying with information provision obligfations at the G-20.

Now the Financial Times' Chris Giles and Alan Beattie suggest that a growing number of G-20 players are venting their frustrations at China:

Five prominent members of the Group of 20 leading economies, including the US and UK, sent a coded rebuke to China on Tuesday against backsliding on economic agreements.

In a letter to the rest of the G20 that shows frustration at slow progress this year, the leaders warned: “Without co-operative action to make the necessary adjustments to achieve [strong and sustainable growth], the risk of future crises and low growth remain.”

G20 officials said the letter – signed by Stephen Harper and Lee Myung-bak, the Canadian and South Korean leaders who will chair the group’s two summits this year, Barack Obama, US president, Gordon Brown, UK prime minister, and Nicolas Sarkozy, French president – was an attempt to restore flagging momentum to the international process.

Ottawa and Seoul are concerned that the G20 summits they will host, in June and November respectively, might fail to live up to expectations.

In a move that will irritate China, the five leaders specifically raised the issue of exchange rates in relation to reducing trade imbalances, a topic the G20 avoided in 2009 to help secure agreement at the London and Pittsburgh summits.

“We need to design co-operative strategies and work together to ensure that our fiscal, monetary, foreign exchange, trade and structural policies are collectively consistent with strong, sustainable and balanced growth,” the letter said....

As well as refusing to budge on its currency, China has been obstructing the G20 process this year. It has hampered efforts by the International Monetary Fund to issue a report which Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director, told the Financial Times in January would conclude that national strategies for growth around the world “will not add up”.

The leaders’ letter makes reference to the slow progress of this process, urging all G20 members to “move quickly” to “report robustly on what each of us can do to contribute to strong sustainable and balanced global growth”.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to figure out China's strategy here. Lying low isn't going to work for much longer. Ian Bremmer suggests that China has decided it doesn't need the United States anymore. I'm not sure that's accurate, but even if it is, I'm pretty sure Beijing does need at least a few other countries in the G-20.

Of course, maybe they think letters like this will lead to nothing. They might be right. Distrubingly, this same letter urges a completion to the Doha round. Not that there's anything wrong with that. At this point, however, pledges to complete the Doha round are kinda like my pledges to lose weight -- they're mostly ritualistic and have disturbingly little effect on actual behavior.

If the exhortation to redress macroeconomic imbalances falls into the same category, the G-20 will quickly acquire the perception of other dysfunctional multilateral structures.

Question to readers: will China find itself isolated at the G-20 if it continues its noncompliance?


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