G20 should set right direction for cooperation
The G20 Summit will be held in Osaka, Japan, on Friday and Saturday amid rising economic uncertainties across the world. Unilateralism has had a serious impact on the postwar world order and caused instability in different regions. Protectionist policies are eroding the foundation of the multilateral trading system and have caused international trade to shrink significantly. Bullying tactics used by a particular country is disrupting global value chains, hindering the application of new technologies, and weakening the global growth momentum. And a decline in global productivity and people's welfare threatens to follow.
The International Monetary Fund has forecast a decline in global growth this year. Moreover, sustainable development, climate change, environmental protection and other problems facing human beings have not received the due attention and investment they deserve.
Will economic globalization come to an abrupt end? Or has the global economic governance system already failed?
Economies progress through exchange and interconnectivity, and suffer because of isolationism. This is not only the experience China has gathered in course of its economic development, but also the knowledge history has brought to the world economy. Thanks to economic globalization, from 1970 to 2017, per capita GDP doubled and total GDP quadrupled, while the proportion of the world's poor population in the total declined from more than 50 percent to less than 10 percent.
The development of the G20 itself is an apt example of the benefits of globalization. The G20 began cohering global efforts to restore financial and economic stability since its inception in 1999, and its leaders' annual meeting was upgraded to a summit so they could better respond to the global financial crisis in 2008. Since then, the G20 Summit has been a leading forum for international economic cooperation, and has grown into one-of-a-kind platform bringing on board both major developed economies and major emerging market economies to discuss and find ways to resolve global economic issues.
Thanks to these vital changes, the trend has become clear: the tide of globalization is unstoppable despite any countercurrents. And global governance, instead of weakening, is strengthening.
At this critical moment, it is the responsibility of the G20, which accounts for 85 percent of the global economy and two-thirds of the world population, to set the right direction and break new ground for international economic cooperation in order to counter unilateralism and protectionism. And the onus is on the G20 members to jointly uphold the spirit of partnership, strengthen cooperation and overcome difficulties. Resorting to protectionist and unilateral measures, or adopting beggar-thy-neighbor policies will only worsen the situation.
The G20 members should make sincere efforts to build an open world economy and safeguard the rules-based multilateral trading system. They should let international trade and investment play their due roles in driving growth and innovation, creating jobs and facilitating sustainable development. And the major economies should reduce the trade barriers to allow free trade to prosper and resolve any disagreements through negotiations on an equal footing.
There is an urgent need to improve the global governance system, and to make sure the effectiveness of the rules formulated by the international community is not undermined. The current international system may not be perfect, but it needs to be improved, not allowed to degenerate and become dysfunctional.
Mutual respect is the very basis of international relations. So governments should understand that different countries are in different stages of development, and have different social systems and adopted different development paths. Abandoning arrogance and prejudice will help the countries deepen mutual understanding and properly handle disputes.
As the world's largest developing country and a strong advocate of multilateralism, China is taking concrete actions to resolve hotspot issues and honor its commitment to help build a community with a shared future for mankind. In April, the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing, in which representatives from more than 150 countries and 90 international organizations participated. And all parties agreed to follow the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and promote high-quality cooperation in Belt and Road projects to pursue green, low-carbon and sustainable development.
China has always been ready to work with the international community to restore confidence in multilateralism and globalization, build an open and pluralistic world economy, and blaze a new trail in inclusive growth and sustainable development, so as to shape a brighter shared future. In this regard, we look forward to an unequivocal response from the G20 Summit.
The author is a Beijing-based expert on international relations. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.