China Moves To Centre Stage
“WE SWIM together, or we sink together,” said the European Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, as Asian and European leaders gathered in Beijing for a summit on October 24th and 25th that was dominated by the global financial crisis. But China, proclaiming itself relatively unscathed, is in no rush to act.
The crisis is pushing the world’s fourth-largest economy, with the biggest foreign-exchange reserves, to the centre of global summitry. The prime minister, Wen Jiabao, has said China will “actively participate” in a meeting of world leaders called by George Bush to discuss the issue on November 15th. After the Asia-Europe meeting, or ASEM, Mr Wen headed to Russia and Kazakhstan, venue for a pow-wow of Central Asian leaders, for more talks with global finance at the forefront.
But for all its avowed confidence in its own future (“the impact is limited and controllable,” said Mr Wen), and its hinted aspirations for a world financial order less dominated by America and its dollar, China does not want to throw its weight around. At ASEM, the seventh such biennial gathering since 1996, China echoed Mr Barroso’s calls for concerted international action. But it had few ideas to offer on what this should involve. More regulation of the international financial system, Mr Wen unadventurously proposed.