Weekend Roundup: China Can Make the G-20 Matter


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.

The world economy can’t grow without China. And China can’t continue growing unless the rest of the world does. This recognition of mutual dependence was the key theme that emerged last November in a discussion in Beijing between China’s President Xi Jinping and members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council. As former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo argued at that meeting, the G-20 — which brings together advanced and emerging economies representing 85 percent of world GDP and 75 percent of trade — is the one global body capable of addressing this shared challenge. As host of this year’s summit in Hangzhou, President Xi fully agreed, saying he wants to “cement” the role of the G-20 as the governing body which coordinates common policies that foster global growth.

The central issue at the summit, as International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde points out, will concern ways to invigorate economies beyond exhausted monetary policies which have reached their limit, unable to move the needle on stagnant or weak growth around the world despite even negative interest rates in some places. Above all, the hope is that nations gathered in China on September 4-5 will agree to a coordinated global effort to stimulate growth through greater public investment as well as through enhancing productivity by the innovative application of new information technologies to industry.

As John Ross writes from Beijing, India and China are among the fastest growing economies in the world today precisely because of major state investments in infrastructure. Writing from Singapore, Kishore Mahbubani says the G-20 needs “a kick in the butt” to get moving, suggesting that President Obama propose that the U.S. join China’s new Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and that China, in turn, agree to invest in high-speed rail in the U.S. at preferential rates. Also writing from Beijing, Fred Hu, too, argues for the G-20 to commit to “expanding infrastructure investment” along with declaring resistance to trade protectionism and reaffirming commitments to climate change mitigation as agreed to at the U.N. Paris summit in January. Fu Ying, the powerful chair of the foreign affairs committee of China’s National People’s Congress, hopes that U.S.-China cooperation in rebooting the global economy at the G-20 spills over to help avoid a new great power conflict and resolve contentious security issues in the South China Sea.

Al Gore once wrote that at the G-20 summits, “the clothes have no emperor,” in a snide allusion to the stilted group photos of business-suited leaders who rarely rise to the occasion. The aspiration this year is that China’s leaders, who oversee the world’s second largest economy, can put some clothes on the emperor and convince the rest of the G-20 nations to agree on a path out of the prolonged slump that afflicts the world as a whole.

Writing from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Dien Luong chronicles the controversial return of Monsanto, which manufactured Agent Orange used by the U.S. in the war there 55 years ago, this time with GMOs promoted by the U.S. government. In a modified excerpt from his new book, Uri Bar-Joseph reveals how an Egyptian spy — code-named “the Angel” — once stopped the deadliest terror plot against Israel in history.

In Europe, the debate over banning the burqa and the burkini continues to escalate, with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls saying that the bare-breasted symbol of France, Marianne, “isn’t veiled because she’s free. That is the republic!” Writing from Paris, philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy declares that it is up to the imams and other Muslim leaders in France “to remind their followers and members that democracy, like France itself, must be considered as a whole and that by returning to a time when the practitioners of all the major religions believed that it was permissible to hide their women, it is democracy as a whole that is threatened.” Writing from Germany about the images of French police enforcing the burkini ban on a Nice beach, Benjamin Reuter fears “Europe is losing the values that made so many Europeans — and especially young people — proud to be European: freedom and tolerance.”

Cecilia Brainard surveys Philippine citizens on their view of President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent crackdown on the illicit drug trade. She finds the country divided between those who admire and revile Duterte and reflects her own doubts. “These blatant killings bother me in the absence of the rule of law,” she writes. “The drug menace requires a war to fight it, but for how long? And should any vigilante be allowed to kill?”

This week, The Huffington Post opened its latest global edition in Mexico City, just as Donald Trump made a surprise visit to Mexico and met with President Enrique Peña Nieto. Soon after, he delivered a speech in Arizona doubling down on his proposal to deport undocumented workers and build a new border wall. “His policy stances could represent a huge threat to Mexico, and I am not prepared to keep my arms crossed and do nothing,” Peña Nieto said after the meeting. “There’s no better time than now to bring HuffPost to Mexico,” Arianna Huffington writes. “At a time when Donald Trump is running on a platform that includes literally putting up a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, while calling Mexicans killers and rapists, it’s more important than ever to open up the conversation between our two countries, build bridges and counteract this false and dangerous narrative.”

In one of the first posts from the new Mexico edition, Teresa Villa reports that thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets in Caracas to demand that President Nicolas Maduro step down.

Robots are now headed from the office to the garden. As our Singularity series this week notes, a new open-source robotic system can grow food for you in your own backyard. Just press the button, and your robot farmer will get to work.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Co-Founder and Executive Advisor to the Berggruen Institute, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Executive Editor of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Suzanne Gaber is the Editorial Assistant of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is News Director at The Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s news coverage. Nick Robins-Early is a World Reporter. Rowaida Abdelaziz is World Social Media Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media), Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


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