Averting “Surly Nationalism” in Beijing


Beijing witnessed a gathering of global elites as the latter railed against US President Donald J. Trump’s protectionist rhetoric. It also warned China that the latter must limit its own mercantilism if globalization should be retained. This is in stark contrast to the meeting held between finance ministers of G20 countries where the nations did not reach an agreement for a pledge to move against protectionism. All China Development Forum attendees were united against such a scenario. They instead concentrated on how to fix the flaws of globalization. This can be achieved by making sure that any kind of future gains are then shared on an equitable basis.

Global trade at stake

China set up the forum. It was held post the yearly National People’s Congress, attended by a number of influential officials led by Zhang Gaoli, the Vice Premier. The list of attendees consists of executives of global companies, leading academics, Nobel Laureates and former American officials. Anxiety was expressed over protectionism. There was also an apprehension concerning “surly nationalism”. Lawrence Summers, who once held the US Treasury Secretary position, said that the elites were uncomfortable with the prevailing mood.

Hanging in the balance is the rules centric system of global trade designed in a manner to stop any growth and wealth destroying trade wars which convulsed the world economy during the tumultuous period between two World Wars. With Trump as US President, there are increased chances of such a scenario happening again. China is also in the cross-hairs due to its massive trade surplus with America. There is also a broadly held perception of changes in policy after the market gets skewed against the foreign competitors.

US shadow

Finance heads of the G-20 countries meeting at Baden-Baden in Germany set aside the pledge to avoid any kind of protectionism. They signed up on trade statement as a response to the call of the Trump administration to rejig the commerce global order.

According to Charlene Barshefsky, a principal negotiator of China’s 2001 entrance to World Trade Organization (WTO), China is a whipping boy for the United States when it comes to the latter’s trade with countries having lower wages. He continued on to say that both China and the United States bear deep responsibility for the open global market. For China, it means the country should undergo more reform. There should also be the pullback of all discriminatory measures. If this is not done, globalization may not retain its legitimacy.

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