Opinion

What are China’s global economic intentions?

At this January's Davos meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced to a surprised audience that China would be the world’s new champion of globalisation. Bruegel scholar Marek Dabrowski agrees that a functioning global trade system is in China's interest.

By: Date: April 25, 2017 Topic: Global Economics & Governance

This comment was originally published in the Winter 2017 edition of International Economy.

TIE Logo

The speech of President Xi Jinping in Davos should not surprise anybody. For the last thirty years, the Chinese economy has benefited enormously from free trade and financial globalisation. During this period, it moved up from the group of low-income countries to the upper middle-income group and eradicated most of its extreme poverty. According to the IMF World Economic Outlook database, when Chinese market reforms started in 1980, country’s GDP per capita in purchasing power parity terms was equal to only 2.5 percent of that of the United States. In 2015, it reached the level of 25.6 percent of U.S. GDP per capita in PPP terms. In 2014, China became the largest world economy as estimated in PPP terms.

As an upper-middle-income country, China is even more dependent on the uninterrupted functioning of global markets than it was thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago. A substantial part of the Chinese manufacturing industry has become part of global value chains. Moving up within these chains, Chinese enterprises are interested in increasing imports of new technologies. Foreign direct investment plays an important role in the modernisation of the Chinese economy. There is also the expansion of Chinese outward investment going beyond traditional resource related projects in developing countries. The largest Chinese corporations need access to the world financial markets to continue their expansion.

In the coming decade, China will have to change its growth model, largely due to a forthcoming demographic crisis (a legacy of the one-child policy) and increasing environmental and infrastructure constraints. Again, meeting this challenge will require deepening its access to the global and regional markets for goods and services, capital, and, at some point, labour. China will need even more modern technologies, highly trained specialists, and deeper scientific cooperation with leading research centres of the world.

For all these reasons, it is in the vital interest of China to defend global economic openness and liberal trade regimes against danger from a protectionist backlash. However, in order to become a credible and respected champion of globalisation, China must do a lot of its own homework. This includes continuation of its market-oriented economic and institutional reforms, increasing domestic economic, civic, and political freedoms, and building a modern legal system based on the rule of law.

China should restructure and open up its financial sector and liberalise capital account transactions, as well as open other service sectors, remove remaining barriers to foreign capital, and fully enforce intellectual property rights. Changing its monetary policy regime towards inflation targeting and a freely floating exchange rate would be the best counter-argument against continuous accusations of currency manipulation. Finally, China should contribute more to global and regional security, resolve territorial disputes with its neighbours, and refrain from actions which antagonise them.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint.

Due to copyright agreements we ask that you kindly email request to republish opinions that have appeared in print to communication@bruegel.org.

View comments
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

China Made Two Promises in Africa. Can It Keep Them?

China has committed to a market-driven relationship with Africa, as well as a new $60 billion investment plan on the continent, following the recent China-Africa summit. In this light, the author assesses the China-Africa economic relationship, suggesting those new objectives may not be so easy to achieve.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: September 19, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

China real estate developers: a grey rhino in the jungle of financial risks

The author assesses the Chinese real estate industry’s liquidity concerns and its leverage, which is estimated to be four times higher than its global peers.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: September 18, 2018
Read about event

Past Event

Past Event

China's digital economy

How to measure China's digital economy?

Speakers: Alicia García-Herrero, Claudia Vernotti and Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: Global Economics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: September 17, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Perils and potential: China-US-EU trade relations

We are hosting a number of Chinese and EU experts to discuss trade relations between the three forces.

Speakers: Miguel Ceballos Barón, Alicia García-Herrero, Wei Jianguo, André Sapir, Herman Van Rompuy, Zhang Weiwei, Guntram B. Wolff, Zhou Xiaochuan, Zhang Yansheng and Ruan Zongze Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: September 17, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Oct
3
09:00

International trade and the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

This event; jointly organised by Bruegel and the Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University, will discuss the EU-Japan trade deal and asses its impact.

Speakers: Marco Chirullo, Sonali Chowdhry, Gabriel Felbermayr, François Godement, Hiroo Inoue, Sébastien Jean, Yoichi Matsubayashi, Tamotsu Nakamura, Masahiro Nakata, André Sapir, Alessio Terzi, Agata Wierzbowska and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read about event

Upcoming Event

Oct
11-12
20:00

Policy responses for an EU-MENA shared future

In the third edition of the "Platform for Advanced & Emerging Economies Policy Dialogue" we will discuss trade flows and trade policy between Europe and MENA, integration of developing economies into global value chains, and regional energy relations.

Speakers: Mounssif Aderkaoui, Karim El Aynaoui, Marek Dabrowski, Uri Dadush, Giuseppe Grimaldi, Badr Ikken, Joanna Konings, Zahra Maafiri, Pier Carlo Padoan, Visar Sala, Nicolò Sartori, Nathalie Tocci, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Location: Rome
Read about event

Past Event

Past Event

Bruegel Annual Meetings 2018

The 2018 Annual Meetings will be held on 3-4 September and will feature sessions on European and global economic governance, as well as finance, energy and innovation.

Speakers: Maria Åsenius, Richard E. Baldwin, Carl Bildt, Barbara Botos, Maria Demertzis, Benjamin Denis, Lowri Evans, Mariya Gabriel, Svend E. Hougaard Jensen, Joanne Kellermann, Jörg Kukies, Emmanuel Lagarrigue, Philippe Lespinard, Rachel Lomax, Dominique Moïsi, Jean Pierre Mustier, Ana Palacio, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Lucrezia Reichlin, Norbert Röttgen, André Sapir, Johan Van Overtveldt, Martin Sandbu, Margrethe Vestager, Reinhilde Veugelers, Nicolas Véron, Thomas Wieser, Guntram B. Wolff and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Brussels Comic Strip Museum, Rue des Sables 20, 1000 Brussels Date: September 3, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Contribution

International trade under attack: what strategy for Europe?

This Policy Contribution analyses the economic consequences of a full-scale trade war. The US position, focusing on bilateral trade imbalances presumably resulting from unbalanced trade policies, is seriously threatening the multilateral trading system. The authors estimate the impact would be damaging for everyone. Though the EU is partly protected by the size of its internal market, it must engage resolutely in a strategy of defence of trade multilateralism.

By: Sébastien Jean, Philippe Martin and André Sapir Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: August 28, 2018
Read article More by this author

Opinion

US-China trade war: What’s in it for Europe?

To help evaluate whether the market response is warranted or exaggerated, the author measured the trade impact of additional import tariffs based on standard economic theory, namely two key parameters—the tariff pass-through rate and the price elasticity of demand. The end of multilateralism seems clear, at least for trade.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: August 23, 2018
Read article

Opinion

Goodbye deleveraging: Fiscal and monetary expansion to support growth in China

China has opted for a renewed fiscal and monetary stimulus to address the risk of the US-led trade war. The dual policies send a clear signal that economic growth is the priority, but such measures do not come without a cost. Deleveraging efforts will have to be put on hold for the time being.

By: Alicia García-Herrero, Gary Ng and Jianwei Xu Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Date: August 23, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Is Europe America’s Friend or Foe?

Since Donald Trump took office as US president, a new cottage industry in rational theories of his seemingly irrational behavior has developed. On one issue, however, no amount of theorizing has made sense of Trump: his treatment of America's oldest and most reliable ally.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 30, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Ubu ou Machiavel?

L'administration Trump veut imposer une approche transactionnelle des relations économiques gouvernée par le rapport de force bilatéral en lieu et place du contrat multilatéral. Un défi d'une ampleur inédite pour l'Europe.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 6, 2018
Load more posts