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Test for the power of G8-plus-5
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By Chen Xiangyang

The "expanded" format of the G8 summit that President Hu Jintao will attend in L'Aquila, Italy, is important because it has on its agenda subjects that concern every country. Among those subjects are how best to tackle the global economic crisis, prevent protectionism, ensure food security and safety, and tackle global warming so that a deal can be reached at the Copenhagen climate change conference in December to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

The July 8-10 summit has been designed to involve the G5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) plus Egypt (which has received a special invitation from Italy, the president of the G8) on the second day. The debate will be opened up to include three more countries (Australia, Indonesia and South Korea) representing the Major Economies Forum (MEF). Finally, a number of other countries, including those from Africa and the six most important international organizations (including the UN, World Bank, IMF, WTO and OECD), will be brought into the debate on the last day, bringing the grand total to 39 countries.

As the world's largest developing nation, China has been participating in such meetings, and earnestly wishes to work with other countries to achieve positive results at the L'Aquila summit. It hopes all the participants work on the basis of the consensuses reached at the two previous Group-20 summits and send out a strong signal that they will cooperate in the efforts to help the world economy recover as early as possible.

China expects to promote closer dialogue and cooperation between the G8 and developing nations to set up a new South-North partnership on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. It hopes the international community would pay more attention to the impact of the economic crisis on global development and food security and take concrete steps to help solve the problems facing developing countries, especially in Africa.

And last but least, China urges countries to join hands in the fight against climate change and take the Doha Round of WTO talks forward.

Topping the G8 summit agenda will be the global economic crisis and climate change. Since the economic crisis has exposed the shortcomings of the dollar-dominated international monetary and financial system, China hopes the dollar exchange rate would remain stable and a diversified international monetary system would ultimately be set up. It hopes, too, that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol continue to serve as the main channel for international talks and cooperation on climate change and that other mechanisms play a supplementary role. But it firmly opposes the use of climate change by any country as a pretext to resort to trade protectionism.

Amid the profound changes the world economic and financial order is going through, the G8 summit will offer participants the chance to work together to reform the controversial global multilateral mechanisms and intensify global governance in order to set up a fair and reasonable international political and economic order.

The last couple of decades of the last century and the first decade of the 21st have seen unprecedented economic growth thanks to globalization. But the growth has come at a heavy price. Disorderly and blind development has created many problems for mankind, from the economic, food and energy crises, climate change, nuclear proliferation and international terrorism to pandemics, Internet-related crimes, piracy, drug and human trafficking, and natural disasters. Since these problems are very complicated, countries should put their selfishness aside and join hands to build a multilateral world and good global governance.

The process of multipolarization has already started, and some countries have begun playing a greater role on the international stage.

Global challenges and the rise of some emerging powers have exposed the flaws of the West-led international institutions. Since the developing countries don't have proportional representation or say in the IMF or the World Bank, the world's two most important financial organizations have reacted feebly to the economic crisis and failed to fulfill their duties.

The G8-plus-5 dialogue is losing its influence, too, as the G8 countries (the US, the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan and Russia) and the G5 nations do not enjoy equal positions. The G-20 summits have overshadowed the G-8 summit and the G8-plus-5 framework ever since the global economic crisis struck.

But compared with the bad-performing West-led international institutions, the new multilateral institutions, comprising emerging powers and working on an equal basis, have worked even more efficiently and effectively. The dialogues among the emerging powers such as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have shown promising prospects, too.

China has always had an open attitude toward international institutions and global governance. Its consistent stance has been that developing countries should have extensive representation in all international bodies and their concerns addressed on the basis of equality. China hopes the L'Aquila summit would take a positive step toward that goal.

The author is Deputy Director of the Center for Strategic Studies under the China Institute of International Relation.

(China Daily July 8, 2009)

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