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Significance of G20 Summit in Hangzhou

 G20 Summit in Hangzhou 

The G20 Meeting occurring in Hangzhou was an important and timely meeting for world leaders, finance ministers and the world generally. It is especially significant that China and the US chose this period to sign the Paris Climate Change Treaty. China and the US account for about 40% of the world’s emissions and their early signing signifies an intention to seriously tackle the challenge of global warming.

I have been fortunate to travel times to beautiful Hangzhou, a city renowned for its historic relics, exotic gardens, lakes and other natural beauties—often described by my Chinese friends as ‘heaven on earth.’ Although Hangzhou has been through many recent urban developments, it has retained its historical and cultural heritage and today is a major tourist destination. The West Lake, for example, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Economically, Hangzhou serves as a good example of how China’s future growth is being extended throughout China with many new cities showing rapid growth and development. It is also important that the Alibaba Group—a symbol of China’s new Internet Economy and source of future growth, was founded in Hangzhou. Moreover, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited Alibaba’s headquarters to help launch the Alibaba Australia, thus opening up new avenues of trade for Chinese and Australian traders and consumers.

Hangzhou is also a city of rising political importance. In addition to being selected as the first Chinese city to host the G-20 Summit, in September 2015, Hangzhou was awarded the 2022 Asian Games, becoming the third Chinese city to play host to the Asian Games after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou 2010.

It is also significant that this G-20 session saw the invitation of more developing countries and non G-20 members. Asia has 70% of the world’s population and many developing economies. It desperately needs infrastructure if it is to grow its way out of poverty and improve the life of citizens, especially the millions who continue to live on a few dollars a day. This is the major thrust of One Belt One Road and multi-national cooperation and commitment are required to reach the multiple goals involved.

The G-20 summit hopefully will re-focus the world on globalisation and promotion of trade for mutual benefit. It is important to reverse trends seen by events such as BREXIT and other movements towards isolationism and populist calls for nations to withdraw from Free Trade and other international agreements both existing and planned, such as the TPP. The economic, political and social reality is that we are all more connected than ever before. If we are to progress, dialogue, cooperation and international trade must be advanced.

The G-20 meeting is also a reminder that the G-20 group must continue its evolution from a crisis committee convened to cope with a GFC to a management committee that must promote and help manage peaceful development around the world for the benefit of all. This cooperation must also be fostered by continually improved good global governance characterised by transparency, accountability and inclusiveness, starting for example by reform of international financial institutions.

As this post went to press, the writer notes that President Xi made many of the same points in his address, namely the need for action, and not just more talk, in re-invigorating globalisation, a focus on innovation and sustainable development and inclusiveness, and greater coordination among G20 members together with continued reforms leading to more effective system of governance for the G20 Committee.

Dr Eugene Clark is Dean and Professor of Law, Sydney City School of Law:


14th September 2016