Chinese Leadership in the Evolution of “Hub” and “Parallel” Globally Oriented Institutions

Chinese Political Science Review, Oct 2017

This paper examines the trajectory of Chinese leadership in globally oriented organizations of a self-selective informal nature. In doing so, it shifts attention away from the role of China in established formal institutions, above all the United Nations. The focus instead is on the increasingly robust activity centered post the 2008 global financial crisis on the “hub” forum the G20 and an array of “parallel” non-western institutions including the BRICS and the Belt and Road Initiative. The key theme of this paper is that China has adopted a dualistic strategy that allows it act as both a key insider and outsider in the global system. From an international perspective, such an approach allows China to gain status as a rising power while not compromising its sense of solidarity with the rest of the non-west. Domestically, the approach builds on lessons gained from the earlier debate about entry into the World Trade Organization which marked a sharp divide between liberals and nationalists. A dualistic approach that allowed China to be a core member of the hub G20 and a driver of autonomous initiatives defused the possibility of such a contentious internal debate.

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Chinese Leadership in the Evolution of “Hub” and “Parallel” Globally Oriented Institutions

Chinese Leadership in the Evolution of “Hub” and “Parallel” Globally Oriented Institutions Andrew F. Cooper 0 1 2 3 Yanbing Zhang 0 1 2 3 Andrew F. Cooper 0 1 2 3 0 School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University , Beijing , China 1 UNU CRIS (Institute on Comparative Regional Integration) , Brugge , Belgium 2 The Department of Political Science and The Balsillie School of International Affairs, University of Waterloo , Waterloo , Canada 3 Institute of International Strategies and Development, Tsinghua University , Beijing , China This paper examines the trajectory of Chinese leadership in globally oriented organizations of a self-selective informal nature. In doing so, it shifts attention away from the role of China in established formal institutions, above all the United Nations. The focus instead is on the increasingly robust activity centered post the 2008 global financial crisis on the “hub” forum the G20 and an array of “parallel” non-western institutions including the BRICS and the Belt and Road Initiative. The key theme of this paper is that China has adopted a dualistic strategy that allows it act as both a key insider and outsider in the global system. From an international perspective, such an approach allows China to gain status as a rising power while not compromising its sense of solidarity with the rest of the non-west. Domestically, the approach builds on lessons gained from the earlier debate about entry into the World Trade Organization which marked a sharp divide between liberals and nationalists. A dualistic approach that allowed China to be a core member of the hub G20 and a driver of autonomous initiatives defused the possibility of such a contentious internal debate. China; Global governance; International organizations; Informal institutions; G20; BRICS; Belt and Road initiative 1 Introduction The “rise” of China has grabbed enormous attention. However, some important institutional dimensions of China’s ascendancy have remained under studied. This is surprising as the shift in the trajectory in Chinese leadership in globally oriented institutions highlights a number of key points about the 21st century global governance that need to be teased out in greater detail. The core theme of this paper is that the nature of the evolving institutional orientation of China’s leadership marks an unprecedented turn. In earlier eras, big powers gained access to “concerts” of power due to military victory (Ikenberry 2001; Paul 2016; Alexandroff and Cooper 2010) . China’s pathway into the 21st century equivalent—the “hub” G20 forum at the leaders’ level—has been very different in that the catalyst for transformation was a crisis of a very different type, the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008 when China had become the second largest economy of the world while remaining an outsider of the traditional G7 leadership (Cooper 2010; Cooper and Thakur 2013; Kirton 2013; Luckhurst 2016) . If China’s move into the elevated G20 was uncontested at the international level, the shift in mode of participation remains in historical context a highly divergent and sensitive shift. Although its value as a crisis committee could be justified on efficiency grounds, the G20 as an informal self-selective body lacked the legitimacy that China long treasured through the centrality of the United Nations (UN) and over time the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The G20 lacked a charter and other attributes of formal international standing, including established headquarters and organizational structure. Moreover, not only had China’s own experience with informal bodies up to the GFC been decidedly negative, a shift to insider status in this type of self-selective forum meant a distancing from countries in the global South, a constituency that China long felt a sense of solidarity with. Under these conditions, what is striking about China’s role in this institutional hub is the patience and flexibility of its approach. Initially, the emphasis was on a tactical hedging, with a cautious style. Over time, furthermore, elements of a dualistic strategic focus were emphasized. China with the catalyst of the GFC embraced its insider status within the G20. Symbolically, China was ready to move into the spotlight, with a massive upgrade in terms of visibility at the initial G20 summits. Operationally, though China took a low key approach, amid concerns that on a number of issues (most notably on currency, imbalances), the target might be China itself. It was only after this initial phase of the G20 subsided, with diminished coordination on the financial agenda, that China took on a more assertive leadership stance. In global terms, China sought to offset the embrace of an insider role in two different (and somewhat contradictory) ways. On one hand, it attempted to balance the privileging of a self-selective hub by connecting the agenda of the G20 to the priorities of formal institutions, especially the UN and the WTO. On the other hand, China sought to stretch out the use of informal institutions beyond the G20 (and the west) to “parallel” initiatives (Barma et al. 2007; See also Chin 2010; Paradise 2016; Stuenkel 2016) . In 2009, the same year that the G20 consolidated itself as the new apex with respect to global coordination between the world’s economic powers, China took part in the first official BRICS summit, thus founding an autonomous globally oriented organization. As with the G20 jumps, out about China’s approach to the BRICS was its patience and flexibility. At the outset, China was prepared to let other members move out in front in terms of leadership. But over time, not only did China’s leadership position within the BRICS becomes more apparent, the assertive use by China of parallel and largely informal forums extended into an array of other institutions including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Silk Road Fund and the One Belt One Road Initiative (BRI) and in some respects the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (although the AIIB has taken on some aspects of a formal institutional character). We argue that, notwithstanding the neglect of this dynamic in the westerndominated literature, it is this two-sided approach with very specific international goals and domestic strategies that is central to the role of leadership by China in the 21st century. The hosting of the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit indicates that China is willing and able to identify itself as a core insider at the apex of level of global politics. Yet, China was not prepared to lock itself into this hub forum at the expense of other options. Building on the BRICS parallel model, even before the Hangzhou summit, China had decided to hold the “Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation” in May 2017 to increase its influence in global governance. At the same time, China demonstrated that it was willing and able to play a bigger role within the G20, and it took care not to sacrifice its image as an assertive and parallel-directed outsider. The salience of attention to this duality is made more acute, by the fact that argumentation over self-selective informal institutions prior to the 2008 GFC within China was not central to strategical thinking about global economic governance. What was crucial—besides ensuring that China’s P5 position at the UN was not compromised—was working out what China’s role should be in the formal context of the WTO. Whereas prior to the GFC most Chinese commentators accepted the status quo in terms of G forums, that is to say that China should not seek entry into the G7/8, but that it should engage actively at the level of the G20 finance made up of finance ministers and central bankers from the time of the Asian financial crisis at the end of the 1990s, the nature of China’s accession to the WTO remained highly contentious and formed a key dividing line between Chinese liberals and nationalists. Although in some ways reflective of a more generalized divergence in policy outlook (Pan and Xu 2017) , the split in attitude towards international institutions had a distinct character that eventually spilled over into the framing of the G20 and parallel institutions. Standing back from the debate liberals can be viewed as having a commitment to the (western created) global system albeit with some degree of differentiation in institutional focus. Alternatively, nationalists show some willingness to engage with international institutions if this approach is deemed to be in the national interest, along with a decided orientation to embrace nonwestern institutions. The shift to embrace a wider spectrum of informal institutions—not only the hub G20 but beyond the G20 to an array of parallel institutions—was useful in two different ways. Externally, the dual focus of this approach not only allowed China to cast itself as both an insider and outsider in global institutions, in a manner that was far less awkward than in the UN (with its UNSC status) and the WTO (where its position remains in ambiguous fashion between its legal status as a developing country and its own preference to be termed a “large developing trading nation”). It also allowed China to claim solidarity with other key members of the global South (via BRICS) as well as to project new forms of non-western leadership. Internally, the approach was focused on defusing another potential contentious debate. As highlighted by the split between liberals and nationalists over WTO accession, the choice of joining a western-created international organization was a polarizing issue. Yet, unlike the WTO, a dualistic strategy was possible in which China became an insider within the “hub” G20 and at the same time maintained its credentials as an outsider through the creation of parallel autonomous institutions. Nor was the image of hedging sustained over. Using the flexibility of form that selfselective informal institutions allowed China was able to build its institutional projection from a cautious low key approach to a more robust—even ‘bold’—form of statecraft (Chin 2015) . 2 The Unprepared Greater Role in Global Economic Governance Before 2008 Since the GFC in 2008, China’s role in global governance has become an important topic in both China and the world. As the host for both the G20 Hangzhou summit in 2016, as well as the 2017 BRICS and BRI summits, China is in the institutional spotlight. However, what we want to highlight in this preliminary section is that prior to the 2008 global financial crisis, and there was some considerable uncertainty in China’s policy and academic circles about the appropriate way forward. As early as 2005, Robert B. Zoellick, the American deputy Secretary of State, had stressed that China should become “a responsible stakeholder” of the world system, which it had become deeply involved in (Zoellick 2005) . However, at the China’s domestic level, there was a quite different picture of China’s role in global governance. We try to argue that within China, there have always been two broad lines of thinking. One may be called a nationalist–socialist-conservative line, which highlights China’s national interest and takes a very distrustful view towards the west, and western-created liberal world order. The other takes an international perspective and hopes that China can insert itself into the liberal world and may even become a liberal state like the west. The struggle between these two different schools of thought laid down the foundation of China’s dualistic approach towards global governance in recent years. Amid these internal differences, there was a common suspicion of westerndominated informal bodies. The G7 was viewed as lacking legitimacy, as were coalitions of the willing mobilized in either Kosovo or Iraq. The experience of “outreach” with respect to the G20 was for its part highly frustrating for China. Attempts to reform the G8 from the inside were directed through the so-called Heiligendamm or Outreach 5 (O5) process between 2005 and 2009, through which different members of the G8 took the lead in reaching out to a cluster of emerging markets and regional hubs, a grouping that included Brazil, India and South Africa as well as China (although at odds with the later BRICS construct, Mexico was included albeit not Russia as it had become a member of the G8 and was not viewed as part of the global South) (Cooper and Antkiewicz 2008) . Such an initiative was intended to increase the legitimacy of the G8, as the informal dialogue was intended to create trust, bring more understanding of common responsibilities on global issues and explore avenues for stalled negotiations in other international forums, especially the Doha WTO Round. However, several mishaps at the launch of the Heiligendamm process as well as the general approach to it as outreach did not contribute positively to the process. The most infamous incident was the release of the communique´ that announced the establishment of the Heiligendamm process without any input from the O5 and before the emerging powers actually joined the G8 meetings. The response by China was that the G8 Outreach would not be used as “a means of exerting pressure on developing countries” (Williamson 2007) . For Chinese liberals, the best option for China within the global system was through formal institutions. Above all, this meant full support for the UN. A number of commentators pointed to the more assertive role of China prior to the GFC (Cooper and Fues 2008) . According to one: “China has quickened the pace of its interactions with the United Nations, and in recent times, it has outperformed the United States as a player in New York” (Fullilove 2006). Although space was allowed for cooperative activity via self-selective informal bodies—most notably the G20 finance—the first best option was to consolidate its secure position within the Permanent 5 of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). As the eminent Chinese economist Yu Yongding put it in 2005, although China moved past its 1960s stance of “extreme cautiousness, sensitivity and defensiveness” with fears of “falling intro traps”, there was a clear line drawn between the legitimacy accorded to the UN and cautioned against any attempt to “upgrade the G20” to the leaders level as being “unwarranted” (Yu 2005: 188) . The major debate in China prior to the GFC was not about informal institutions, but about the implications of China’s entry in 2002 into the WTO, a formal global economic governance body Lardy argues that “entry into the World Trade Organization is a seminal event in China’s economic history and the history of the world trading system” (Lardy 2002: 174) . Chan also states that “China’s entry into the WTO is arguably the most significant peaceful change in the global political economy in the post-Cold War world” (Chan 2003) . However, since the beginning, Chinese intellectual circles were divided into two parts. One side supported globalization in general and China’s WTO entry in particular and the other stood on the opposite against the entry (Fewsmith 2001; Garrett 2010; Feng 2006) , although the Chinese state was supportive of the entry. In fact, neither the nationalists nor the liberals at the turn of the century predicted China’s WTO entry would bring China huge trade surplus and foreign reserves and cause the so-called “global imbalance” later. However, some brief reviews of their debates then can certainly show us the evolvement of China’s ideological context before and after the global financial crisis. For Chinese liberals, the WTO entry was mainly a political and legal issue rather than an economic one. They generally believed that the entry could push China’s domestic reform further and ignored the impact of the entry on the world economy. For examples, He Qinglian argued that after entering the WTO, the Chinese state would have to follow the rules of the international community rather than its own. Under this kind of situation, the state will become “soft” and suffer from internal contradictions, and it would eventually be forced to change. “That is the main reason I argue China should enter the WTO”, said He (He 2000) . Fewsmith noted that the famous political liberal Liu Junning discussed the political implication of China’s WTO entry and expressed the same view as He Qinglian (Fewsmith 2001: 584) . Liu (2001) argued that “China’s entry into the WTO implies that China will start formally (zhengshi) to integrate itself into the world capitalist economic and political system, the basic characteristics of which are market economics and democratic politics” (Liu 2001) . Another political liberal, Yang Xiaokai, made a more cautious statement on WTO entry than He and Liu. Yang argues that if the WTO entry “stimulates the initiation of a real constitutional negotiation among different interest groups in China, then China’s WTO membership will benefit China as a whole in a profound way. If the ruling party can successfully block the initiation of the constitutional negotiation and carry out a new dual track approach in implementing WTO game rules, then China as a whole may suffer from its WTO membership” (Yang 2000) . However, Yang certainly supports the entry. In addition, in a report written to China’s President Jiang Zemin soon after China signed the WTO Accession Protocol, Wu Jinglian, a famous economist, highlighted the importance of the rule of law for a market economy (Wu 2001) . For the nationalists, the main reason for them being against the WTO entry was that they worried both that China’s domestic economy would be damaged by the entry and that it ignored the impact of Chinese entry on the world. As the last negotiator of the China’s WTO entry, Long Yongtu stands out as symbol of the entry. For example, in August, 2005, Long met a face-to-face challenge. In an important forum in Guangzhou to explore how to develop the automobile industry in China, Long said that “I have a long term view that after a foreign firm comes to China, if it pays tax to the government and employs Chinese workers, it is a Chinese firm” and that “we should not create a national brand with the only purpose of creating a national brand”. Just after he finished saying the above words, an old man soon stood up and criticized him. This person was He Guangyuan, the former minister of the Ministry of Machinery. He argued that the purpose of cooperating with foreign firms was to learn their technology and their management skills to strengthen China’s firms, which should have their own intellectual property rights and develop their own brands. Only through this way could China benefit (Sina News 2005) . The Long-He debate soon raised a hot discussion in the forum which spread through the Internet and other media. It seemed that more people stood with He Guangyuan than Long Yongtu on whether China should have its own national industries and national brands. Some websites were even set up to discuss whether Long is a traitor or a hero of China (NetEase 2005). Long’s answer is, “I am neither a hero nor a traitor; I only represented China in a negotiation” (Xinhua News 2005) . The Long-He debate was like a symbol of the different perspectives of China’s nationalists and liberals towards China’s relationship with WTO in particular and global economic governance in general. Yet, these differences should not be exaggerated. It was quite clear, although the nationalists and liberals were different from each other, their main focus was China rather than the world. With this context in mind, the Chinese government’s attitude towards global economic governance was also very cautious. Indeed, western scholars of global governance could be dismissive of China’s performance. Two close observers for instance labelled China a “passive self-interested status seeker” (Kirton and Koch 2012) , willing to embrace the G20 (and the enhanced status) but with little focus on taking any initiatives, preferring to defend its own interests. This was largely caused by that China was short of talents to play the game which it had to face soon. The other case shows this dilemma. After G20 at the elevated level came into being, China hosted the annual ministerial level meeting in 2005. Before the meeting, the Canadian-Based Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) the main promoter of G20 proposed a joint conference as the second track dialogue with an important Chinese institution. Because of China’s regulation, this kind of ordinary international conference in the west should be authorized by the Chinese government. At the beginning, the authority was reluctant to let have this kind of conference happen in China and even blocked the visa application of several important international guests to the last minutes for the meeting (Author’s interview 2010a) . Although the conference finally was hold in Beijing, it showed the Chinese government’s less than positive view of global governance at the time, and also the different styles of China towards diplomacy from that of the west. Quantitatively, the “China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database (CNKI)”, China’s largest database of China’s academic journals and media publications to search articles and reports on “global governance” reinforces this impression. It is quite clear that it was only with the GFC that “global governance” came to the forefront in China. The graph of the statistical analysis can be found below: with China inevitably moving to the center of global economic governance because of its economic size, its huge foreign reserve, its non-G8 status, and its high contribution to global economic growth amid the 2008 shocks (Fig. 1). 3 The Gradual Embrace of the G20 by China It is well rehearsed in the literature that President George W. Bush called President Hu Jintao to discuss the possibility of the first G20 summit, and President Hu supported this idea. Buttressing this impression, one author of this paper was informed of the support of the G20 by President Hu Jintao by Paul Martin, the former prime minister of Canada. The other heard this from a China’s diplomat who handled this phone call directly when he worked in China’s embassy at Washington. Following President Bush, the Obama administration also showed great interest to work with China. At odds with the choices of her predecessors, Secretary Hillary Clinton chose East Asia rather than Western Europe as her first foreign visit. She 140 140 163 72 98 112 200020012002200320042005200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017 used an old Chinese proverb to describe the Sino–US relationship then, namely, “we are on the same boat and should work together closely (tong zhou gong ji)” (Sina News 希拉里发文:中美要“同舟共济”2009) . During that period, some American strategists also began to promote the idea of G2—a concept that seems originally to have originally come from Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security Adviser (when China’s foreign minister Yang Jiechi went to visit him, he discussed this idea with Yang) (author interview 2010a, see also Garrett 2010) and called for a closer relationship between USA and China on global affairs. China rejected the idea of “G2” (Sohu 温家宝:中国不赞成G2 Sohu 2009) , but showed great interest in G20, particularly the move at the G20 Pittsburgh summit to define the summit as “the premier forum for international economic cooperation”. To be sure this move signaled to China that there some significant benefits from working within the architecture of an expanded G process. Although China had been excluded from the initial meetings about the construct of the G20, by 2009 it had assumed a privileged insider status. In the lead up to Pittsburgh, for instance, the sherpas from China joined his counterparts from the US, the UK, Germany and France in Frankfurt, Germany where they reached the preliminary arrangement to replace G8 and G8 + 5 with G20 as the main forum for global economic governance (He 2015). In domestic policy making terms, pushing the notion of G20 ascendancy while not being overly ambitious in terms of participation within this hub forum allowed an equipoise between the nationalists and liberals. For as Alex He argues quite convincingly, some of the debate about China’s role in the G20 has replicated the WTO debate, with the theory of “China’s responsibility” interpreted as a strategy to “want to place excessive responsibilities on China…dragg[ing] down the rise of China by saddling it with disproportionally heavy responsibilities (He 2014) . While differences still emerged about policy preferences, any explicit tensions were contained to a far greater extent than in the WTO debate by a balance between engaging with the G20 but within the limits of a low key and sometimes defensive approach. Significantly, since 2008/2009, China began to fully appreciate that as an insider, it had to pay more attention to global governance and to play a more sophisticated role in the core architecture. In 2009, China’s leading think tank China Institutes on Contemporary International Relations (CICRI) organized dozens of top experts in this field to discuss the global financial crisis, the future of G20 and China’s role in it separately after the London and Pittsburgh summits. The arguments from these experts highlight the nuances of China’s understanding. It should be mentioned at the outset that nearly, all of the experts perceived that the 2008 global financial crisis to have fundamentally altered the international system and the world order. A typical argument came from the vice president Yuan Peng. Before the 2008 crisis, the world order in the Chinese context was described as “one superpower plus several major powers” (yichao duoqiang), namely, US as the super power and countries such as European powers, Russia, Japan, and China as major powers. However, Yuan (2009a) argued that the crisis showed “one superpower plus several major powers” as the old world order had changed to “several major powers plus one superpower” (duoqiang yichao). The argument basically means that US as the superpower is certainly in a process of relative decline with other powers beginning to share more power within the international system. That is to say, Yuan basically believes that the unipolar world order has ended (Yuan 2009a) . Some scholars like Wang Xiangsui, a former PLA official argued that the world order had already become a multi-polar one (Wang 2009a) . However, the majority of the scholars like Prof. Chu Shulong at Tsinghua university, a leading expert of American studies in China circumspectly understood that other major powers was still far behind US because of its economic size and creative capacity and the dominant role of the US dollar in the international monetary system (Chu 2009) . Overall, most scholars believed that China should use the global crisis and the hub G20 forum to make the Sino–US relationship work more effectively. As far as the relationship between China and the existing world order was concerned, most scholars took more ambiguous views. For instance, the dean of the school of International Relations at Beijing Foreign Language University, Prof. Li Yonghui argued that on one side, China had certainly benefited from the existing world order, which kept a stable external environment for China’s development. Thus, China had always tried to maintain the stability of the existing system. On the other side, though, China also should take a critical view, because some aspects of this system are certainly unjustified and irrational, and thus, the system had become something that cannot fully reflect China’s interest. Therefore, China should advocate a new system and a new order (Li 2009) . Dr. Jiang Yong, the director of the center of economic security at CICIR, argued that the global financial crisis reflected the basic contradiction of global financial capitalism and China should take a more national and socialist line to deal with outside world (Huang 2009) . However, within the writings of scholars like Prof. Li and Dr. Jiang who took a suspicious view towards the existing world order, we cannot find out what kind of order they exactly advocated. A clear policy recommendation on how to change the existing world order in fact came from the Chinese government and the focus was the international monetary system. Just before the London G20 summit in April 2009, the Governor of China’s central bank, Zhou Xiaochuan published two articles on the website of the bank. The central idea of Zhou was that a super sovereign currency should replace the US dollar as the international currency and IMF’s SDR may be used as it (Zhou 2009) . The background of Zhou’s argument was quite explicit, namely, China hold huge amount of US dollar as its foreign reserve and worried the devaluation of the dollar. However, the purpose of the two articles was not quite clear, and we only could have two speculative ideas. The first was that the Chinese leadership did not understand the fundamentals of the US hegemony and the role of the dollar within the regime, nor did they understand that this regime can be changed by an international meeting like G20 summit. The second was that they played to different logics at the international and domestic level. On the international level, they wanted to show their dissatisfaction at the negative consequences on China caused by the devaluation of the US dollar. On the domestic level, they hoped to show their innocence to Chinese people. In fact, whether China should hold huge amount of US dollar as its foreign reserve has always be a controversial topic in China, but the government decisively wanted to buy more before the crisis. The crisis, the devaluation of dollar and Zhou’s article pushed the government to face this controversial issue directly, and this process of rethinking paved the way to establish the array of parallel institutions beyond not only the hub G20 forum but the BRICS, the New Development Bank, the AIIB, and the Silk Road Fund later. It is very easy to understand why China took a positive view towards the G20 hub summit around the year 2009/2010. Within the framework of G8 + 5 since 2005, China did not have much status. In addition, China did not like the idea of G2. Only within the G20 framework could China both play a major power role and keep its identity as a developing country. Thus, nearly, all of the articles we reviewed take a quite positive view towards the G20. The explicit structural need—and diplomatic request—for China to be part of the summit process played well to Chinese reputational claims. Although part of the more generalized ascendancy of emerging powers generally and the BRICS specifically, China was accorded a special place in the formation of the G20 (for example, getting the first invitation phone call from President George W Bush). By embracing the G20 from the outset, China challenged the negative images of it as a revisionist country that is planning and actively working towards an overturn of the status quo (Mearsheimer 2006) . Not only did China refuse to place any conditions on its participation, its declaratory statements of “rise” were muted. In comparison with Brazil, for example, there was no sense of demand—or satisfaction —that China had moved beyond the status of “outreach” country to the G7/8 (Amorim 2010) . To be sure, some senior scholars in the field of international relations wanted the G20 to go further as a hub forum. For example, Prof. Lin Limin at CICIR argued that even the G20 summit could be treated as the start of the change of the world order, and it was nothing but a start (Lin 2009) . Yuan Peng argued that it was not clear what would happen to G20 summit when the crisis receded. The west used the G20 summit to deal with the global crisis, but it was not quite clear what its future would be (Yuan 2009b) . In an instrumental manner, the Chinese government was satisfied with the evolution of the summit. In March 2010, China’s foreign minister, Yang Jiechi argued that, following the Pittsburgh summit, the year 2010 would become a year of formalizing and institutionalizing G20 summits (Yang 2010). In the 2010 Toronto G20 summit, China’s President Hu Jintao argued that in the long run, G20 should move from a crisis management arrangement to an effective governance body and played the key role in global economic governance (Hu 2010) . China’s positive attitude towards global economic governance and G20 was highly visible in the Political Report of 18th CCP’s Party’s Congress in 2012. In fact, it was the first time, the term “global economic governance” appeared in the Party’s policy document and the political report reflected China’s leadership’s views on international strategy and domestic development in general. The report argues that “China will strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination with the major economic partners and deal with trade frictions with them properly. China will a balance between its rights and its responsibility global affairs and actively take part in global economic governance. China will promote liberalization of international trade and investment and oppose protectionism in any forms” (Political Report 2012) . That being said, some degree of caution was maintained. China in the initial stages of the G20 demonstrated that it was onside with the G20’s agenda. Nonetheless, its major signals to this effect did not come in the actual G20 summits. Rather, policy announcements were made in parallel—and anticipatory—fashion. The first and arguably the strongest sign of this pattern came with the announcement by China of its massive stimulus package prior to Washington DC. However, this was a type of process that continued. In the run-up to the June 2010 Toronto Summit, the Chinese government tried to pre-empt pressure on the RMB by announcing the restart of exchange rate liberalization. When either indirect or direct demands were made on China, nevertheless, there was resistance. On one front, this defensive style was focused on pushing back attempts to widen the agenda beyond the crisis-committee agenda; moving the G20 past the financial crisis to an agenda that targeted issues such as development or climate change. This resistance was in large part due to concerns about losing autonomous decision-making as Acharya writes, China’s defensive posture comes from its ‘desire not to sacrifice its sovereignty and independence for the sale of multilateralism and global governance’ (Acharya 2011: 589) . There were concerns as well about process, with the intrusion of the G20’s agenda into areas better—and more legitimately—the purview of the UN. Style and substance thus met, as the strict compartmentalization between the G20 and the UN also reinforced China’s credibility with non-members of the G20, which had concerns about the further G20 encroachment. Such concerns came out in repeated fashion. Just before the London summit, for example, papers were put forward by Vice Premier Wang Qishan and the Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan, with Wang calling for the G20 “looking beyond the needs of the top 20” in how the international financial system (IFS) is run (Wang 2009a) . Indeed, Eccleston et al. (2015: 310) write that the endorsement of G20 transatlantic cooperative initiatives encounters obstacles from emerging economies, particularly from China because of fear of encroachment into national interests. A case in point is China’s support for Hong Kong and Macau to be removed from the OECD’s list of tax havens during the 2009 London Summit (Lesage 2010) . Chinese resistance was even more robustly aimed at issues that more directly targeted its policy space. An early—and on-going example—was the attempted use of the G20 by the US to deal with currency issues. The other main example was the attempted push on the question of imbalances. The on-going activities of the G20 thus showcased a fundamental paradox in the global system’s core institutional architecture. The US—as made apparent by issues such as currency and imbalances —wanted to maintain some elements of the disciplinary culture associated with the G7/8. Still, in terms of capacity, the US no longer possessed the ability to change policy space of other systemically important countries such as China on a coercive basis. Such shifts can only take place on a voluntary basis, where such move is viewed as being in conformity with national as well as international needs. The effect of this governance gap has meant that China remains wary of some aspects of the G20 process. Yet, even with this circumscribed comfort level, China has moved to make strategic use of the G20. At one level, China has amplified the G20 as an operational means of conducting bilateral or plurilateral relations. China has been for instance been highly organized in arranging bilateral meetings at the edges of the G20. The most striking illustration of this dynamic came with the deal between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping immediately before the November 2014 Brisbane G20 summit, in which for its part China agreed to cap its emissions—by 2030 at the latest—and to diversify its energy supply to include more non-fossil fuels. While embracing an insider position in the hub forum, China used the G20 meetings to build parallel and autonomous activity by the BRICs countries. If not the key mobilizer of the BRICs as a summit process (leaving the leadership at the initial stages to Russia and Brazil), China was an important animator of the BRICs caucus meetings on the sidelines of the G20. Consistent with its own defensive approach, the main motivation of this activity was explicitly instrumental, building up a coalition of resistance against any G20 initiative such as on currency valuation and imbalances that were deemed detrimental to its own national interests (Schirm 2011) . In terms of the G20 summit itself, China’s hedging instinct—keeping options open and not over-committing—progressed over time. Such an approach signified that China viewed G20 from the start as a means to an end or ends. Instrumentally, China was firmly committed to the G20 crisis-committee approach. However, it remained cautious about how wide it wants to go in areas of agenda-stretch that would take the G20 into steering committee territory. As one leading Chinese expert argues: “There is a tension between China’s desire for the G20 to be an effective body and its interest to preserve China’s independence over domestic affairs. This is the reason for China’s ambivalence, for example, over the mutual assessment mechanism that the G20 powers agreed that the IMF would initiate after the Pittsburgh summit. China believes that this mechanism should be consultative and instructive in nature, while others believe that it should have more authority to intervene in order to help coordinate policies more effectively” (Chen 2011) . 4 Consolidating the insider approach via the Hub G20 After the Party’s 18th congress, China’s new leadership with President Xi Jinping as its core came to power. We can find, on one hand, that the new leadership continues the established strategy of supporting economic globalization on the global level, but with greater visibility on the global stage. Among the most important signs of this shift in activity was the embrace of the hosting role at the Hangzhou G20 summit. Equally, China also begin to promote a greater array of parallel autonomous international economic cooperation, not only via the BRICS, but beyond through the SCO, AIIB, Silk Road Fund and the increasingly ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). On both components, the dualistic approach became far more robust in application. China’s shift towards an assertive leadership role in the G20 hub forum marks a fundamental shift from its pattern of past cautious engagement. In terms of the details of this leadership role, certain themes jump out. As noted at the outset, one of the key concerns for China is to balance the informality of the G20 with an embedded connection back to the UN and other formal institutions. As early as the second meeting of sherpas held in April 2016 in Guangzhou, China proposed that the G20 members release a chairman’s statement to push all members to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change reached in December 2015. In terms of direct connections with other institutions, one of the most innovative was the initiative by China to hold a ‘1 + 6’ Roundtable in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and six leaders of the world’s leading international economic and financial organizations, namely, President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim, Executive Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde, WTO Director General Roberto Azeveˆdo, Director General of the International Labor Organization Guy Ryder, Secretary General of the OECD Angel Gurria, and Chairman of the Financial Stability Board Mark Carney. Together, they discussed and exchanged views on global economic situation and challenges in general and global economic policies, implementation of the 2030 development agenda, reinvigorating global trade, structural reform, labor market policy, and international financial surveillance reform in particular. All these later became the items on the G20 Hangzhou Summit agenda. Although not all of these organizations fit the model of being formal universal organizations, this ‘1 + 6’ Roundtable was an attempt to build a dialogue between Chinese leadership and the major international economic and financial institutions. Of particular note, given the discussion above, was the push at the G20 to endorse the central role of the WTO in global trade governance and supports a further strengthening of its functioning. Building on this principle, China launched the G20’s Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG) in 2016 and held four meetings. In July, China hosted the first G20 Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Shanghai as an institutionalized mechanism, which approved the China-proposed Terms of Reference of the G20 Trade and Investment Working Group (G20 Trade Ministers 2016) . In terms of support for the UN, China, prior to the Hangzhou Summit, released a Position Paper on the Implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which links the implementation of the Agenda with its own 13th 5-year plan. What was most significant was that under China’s leadership, the G20 put the development issues higher than ever on its agenda within the global macro policy framework. For the first time, the G20 came up with an action plan for the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda, and for the first time agreed to take collective actions to support industrialization in Africa and the least developed countries (G20 Leaders’ Communique 2016) . 5 The spillover effect of institutional Development—BRICS as a parallel/outsider initiative It is clear from this leadership approach that China had no appetite to return to highly polarized “us and them” politics of previous eras. Instead of wanting to be on the outside looking in at the power centers, they wanted to be part of the inner circle. On the other hand, the legacy of opposition did not disappear completely. As expressed by the nationalists on the WTO debate, having been made to feel as an outsider in the western-dominated international order, China harbored feelings entrenched discrimination and insufficient acknowledgement by the established powers. As the experience of the O5 revealed, despite their growing economic weight, they could still be kept to the sidelines of global governance, assigned to the role of rule-takers and without the means to shape or significantly influence global politics (Hurrell 2009) . Indeed, it was this shared sense of relegation that acted as a catalyst for the mobilization of the BRICS. Through ties via the O5, a common group identity was consolidated (Cooper 2016; Cooper and Farooq 2015) . Seeking a seat at the top table with the established powers, therefore, did not preclude China opting for a parallel counter-vailing strategy. Instead of simply mimicking the Western powers, it wanted to actively differentiate itself. Chinese analysts were optimistic about that the BRICs mechanism in declaratory terms, suggesting that it would have “major significance for the whole world”, because it could accelerate development of the multi-polarisation of the international structure and to reform the unfair international political and economic system (Wang 2009b) . Yet, in operational terms—as initially on the G20—there was some caution. The most prevalent view was that the BRICS could act as a lobby or caucus on issues that united them. Chinese analysts suggested, for instance, that the BRICS could also work together to resist protectionist trade measures by some developed countries (Wang 2009b) . They also urged that the four countries join hands to strengthen their common voice in various international economic institutions, for instance, the IMF. Before the G20 summits, the finance ministers and governors of the BRICS central banks met to discuss issues of their common concern and coordinate their positions. During the April 2009 London G20 Summit, most notably, the BRICs countries publicized a joint statement requesting for more voting power and representation in the IMF (Wang 2009b) . At the 2016 Hangzhou G20, China—with the other BRICS—accelerated their push for reform of the IFIs and urged the G20 member countries in collaboration with the IMF to “step up efforts to increase the institution’s quota resources and review the distribution of quotas and votes to ensure fair reflection of emerging and developing economies”. A hard target was set for the completion of the 15th General Review of Quotas by the IMF’s 2017 annual meeting (BRICS 2016) . While building the ‘club’ culture, there was some internal debate about what the relationship of China should be with the global South. Some such as the G20 sherpa He Yafei argued that China could act as a representative of a larger group of emerging powers as it moved into the inner circle of power (He 2015) . For the part, though Chinese experts understood, there are also quite a number of constraints for cooperation with the BRICs countries more specifically. In addition to the different economic structures and levels of development among the four countries, there were multiple points of competition and rivalry. Ultimately, China regarded the BRICs grouping as a useful platform to push for economic cooperation among these countries, to coordinate their positions on key issues of common concern, and to combine to push the Western powers for a larger share of the decision-making power at the global level. This initial caution came to the fore in the formative stages of the creation of the BRICS New Development Bank. After India advanced the idea at the 2012 New Delhi summit, Chinese officials pushed back. Xu Qinghong, section chief of the Banking Supervision Department at the China Banking Regulatory Commission noted, “There are vast differences between us…. Looking at the history of other multilateral institutions, I think such a feasibility study will take a long time and it may test our patience. Since the Delhi Summit, so far in China there have been a lot of doubts about a proposal” (Krishnan 2012) . However, as momentum for the proposal increased China moved to take leadership. In doing so, moreover, China exhibited the advantages it possessed over its BRICS partners. In terms of material resources, China with its massive international monetary reserves well beyond three trillion dollars could propose an asymmetrical model of contribution (Sahu 2013) . In terms of diplomacy, China was tenacious in it the stance that the headquarters for the bank should be located in Shanghai, a position that was championed in turn by its key think tanks. The Financial Research Center at Fudan University argued post New Delhi summit that: “China should strive to become the headquarters of the BRICS bank” (Financial Research Center 2013) . The bargaining, which ultimately led to the finalization of the New Development Bank with the headquarters in Shanghai, and with equal contributions of $ 10 billion from each of the members, on the surface appeared to consolidate the club culture among the BRICS members. However, while the headquarters was to be fixed, the issue of capital commitment could be altered over time, opening the way to greater Chinese leverage. Significantly, the parallel/outsider component of the dualistic approach has been accentuated most notably by the initiatives related to the Silk Road Fund and the BRI. Although much of the attention of these initiatives highlights the robust nature of Chinese leadership, the blending of formal and informal components within the institutional format of these initiatives should be overlooked. While these initiatives contain a great deal of Chinese state capacity (including the hosting of the OBOR summit), they also demonstrate informality in the sense that they are not classic institutional institutions. They have flexibility of membership and a networkoriented design. 6 Reflections on International Goals and Domestic Strategies This paper has showcased the shift in China’s leadership performance in both the hub and parallel institutions that gained ascendancy in the context of the GFC. Although these institutions are most commonly viewed as exhibiting separate dynamics, there are bound together by their self-selective informal nature. Unlike the formal institutions that dominated the post 1945, and even the post 1989 era, these forums were not designed to be universally oriented with an ever expanding membership. Nor did they have a charter of principles. Nor did they have in most cases a secretariat or fixed schedule of meetings. The turn towards informal institutions was made more salient by the fact that this trend was so unanticipated. China’s first option was to use the comfort zone that it had created via the UN, with extended engagements with the IFIs and the WTO. Informality, at least as it had been defined prior to the GFC, had a precarious sense about it. Internationally, it risked defection from the rest in the global South. Domestically, it risked opening up an even more contentious debate than featured in the accession to the WTO. Post GFC, however, was the advantages of engaging in new types of hub and parallel institutions that took preference. The combination of an insider position inside the G20 and an outsider position in the BRICS and beyond was attractive. Internationally both validated China’s status, albeit in different ways. The G20 moved China to the top table of global economic governance. Membership in the BRICS provided a valuable outlet for recalibrating China’s outsider position, allowing it to be a critic as well as part of the establishment. Furthermore, the changing global system did not contradict this dualistic approach. Unlike in older eras, where there were explicit forms of exclusion (where the Soviet Union and its allies, for example, had to chose explicitly between being in or out of the IFIs and the GATT/WTO), global governance in the 21st century possessed some space for variance. China did not have to choose between the G20 and the BRICS and other parallel institutions. Domestically, the dualistic approach allowed a balancing if not a reconciliation between Chinese liberals and nationalists. Committed advocates of the liberal international system still wanted to push further with an engagement on the G20 and other forms of complex interdependence. More explicit defenders of the national interest, with greater support for the embrace of non-western institutions, wanted to downplay the G20 and highlight the power of the BRICS and/or support for the global South. Although some flavor of these views can be picked up in the academic literature (Yu 2015; Pang 2014) , the split is also reflected in media analyses of the G20 and BRICS. From the nationalist perspective, for instance, the commentary by Global Times reveals this divergence. On the G20, the focus of attention is explicitly the benefits for China of membership, while on the BRICS, Chinese leadership is subordinated to collectivity (Chu 2016; Global Times 2016) . China’s cautious stage-by-stage approach enhanced its ability to advance both international goals and domestic strategies. Initially, China’s approach (in a similar manner to the way, it managed the accession to the WTO) was reactive, with a strong hedging dimension. Over time, though, China’s leadership attributes came to the fore. Far from “trapped” inside the G20, this elevated hub institution has opened up new avenues for parallel activity. China accepts that being an insider means some form of adaptation, most obviously though sustained activity beyond the ambit of the UN. Still, sensitivity to this adaptation is eased due not only to an unwillingness to accept that this is part of a socialization process, but that other forms of compensation are available. Strategically, this other side of the dualistic approach comes out in the ability to create and persist with the BRICS and other non-west oriented initiatives, with an increased projection of autonomous leadership capabilities. Acknowledgements Funding support for Andrew F. Cooper’s work has been provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) [grant number 435–2015–1357]. Andrew F. Cooper is Professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo, Canada. From 2003 to 2010, he was the Associate Director and Distinguished Fellow of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). His recent books include BRICS VSI, OUP, 2016; and as co-editor Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy, OUP, 2013; and Rising States, Rising Institutions: Challenges for Global Governance, Brookings, 2010. His scholarly publications have appeared in a number of prestigious journals such as International Organization, International Affairs, World Development, Global Governance and International Studies Review. Dr. Zhang Yanbing is an Associate Professor at the School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University. 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Andrew F. Cooper, Yanbing Zhang. Chinese Leadership in the Evolution of “Hub” and “Parallel” Globally Oriented Institutions, Chinese Political Science Review, 2017, 1-20, DOI: 10.1007/s41111-017-0081-z