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China's Coordination of the G20 and BRICS Summits

Alissa Wang, Chair, Summit Studies, BRICS Research Group
September 4, 2016

The bridge is the centrepiece of the logo for the G20 Hangzhou Summit, and the city of Hangzhou is known for its scenic lakes and bridges. This is symbolic of the role that China wishes to play in global governance, and symbolic of the main purpose of the summit. One of the bridges that China will have to build is between the BRICS and the G20. On 4-5 September 2016, China will be the formal host and chair of the G20 summit. In addition, it will also host the BRICS summit in 2017. It is thus reasonable to expect China to coordinate the approach and deliverables for both summits for maximum effect.

Chinese president Xi Jinping's top priorities for the G20 are now clear. As he stated in G20 China: The Hangzhou Summit, the focus of the G20 summit will be on the four I's of "innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive." Although his priorities for the 2017 BRICS summit are less clear, there are many opportunities to achieve continuity and mutual support. The most important is in the field of development. Xi outlined in his vision for the G20 summit, saying that "to narrow the global development divide, we are leading the way in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We will issue the G20 Initiative on Supporting Industrialisation in Africa and Least Developed Countries and work for the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change to ensure equal access by all people to the benefits of development."

This development agenda offers a special place for the BRICS, especially its New Development Bank (NDB), led by KV Kamath. Since the bank's establishment in 2015, it has issued its first bond which was a green bond worth RMB3 billion. The bank's environmental mandate and commitment in green infrastructure provides the necessary foundation for green development, which is a fundamental aspect of sustainable development and the battle against climate change. For example, with the first bond issue, it was announced that RMB 800 million will be invested in renewable energy projects, and the inaugural projects are expected to reach the target of achieving emissions reduction by 4 million tons per year. The NDB also signed an agreement with the Standard Bank of South Africa on 2 September 2016, which provides the foundation of cooperation that China will need to achieve his G20 development goal of industrialising Africa and the least developed countries.

Given these parallels, China should capitalize on the the opportunities offered by the NDB at the upcoming Hangzhou Summit. China should specifically call on the NDB during the G20 summit to play a leading role in achieving the sustainable development agenda. This should also be tightly linked to other issue areas such as climate change and energy. The BRICS, as a supporter of G20 outcomes, should receive reciprocal support from the G20 under China's leadership. In conclusion, China should seize the opportunity in Hangzhou to play a bridge-building role between the BRICS and the G20.

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Alissa WangAlissa Wang is the chair of summit studies for the BRICS Research Group, and a research assistant at the G7 and G8 Research Group, the G20 Research Group, and the Global Health Diplomacy Program, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College at the University of Toronto. She is pursuing an undergraduate degree with a specialist in international relations, a major in global health and a minor in political science. She is an editor for the reports produced by the G20 Research Group summit studies team, an analyst for the G7 Research Group summit studies team, and works on compliance research. Alissa is interested in Chinese history and politics as well as China's role in global governance. She was a member of the field team at the G7 Elmau Summit in Germany in 2015, the G7 Ise Shima Summit in Japan in 2016 and the G20 Hangzhou Summit in China in 2016.

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