Wednesday, September 07, 2016

'The Boss' at the G20
By Pepe Escobar

China's President Xi Jinping arrives at a news conference after the closing of G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 5, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

China—and President Xi Jinping in particular—seized this opportunity on the global stage with immense relish.

The G20 in China was immensely impressive—in a way that very few in the West are able to understand. I’ve been living in Asia on and off for 22 years now—and other experienced, trusted Asia hands have had the same impression.

I made a point to capture a few glimpses of a quite complex endeavor: the extensive preparation; the rituals; the serious work ethic involved in finding practical solutions especially for small and medium enterprises, SMEs, who want to go global.

The G20 after all is the first—real—global organization to include industrialized nations and the top Global South nations with a mandate of trying to create the basis for balanced and sustainable development. The G7, as it stands, is the past. The G20 is supposed to create the future.

China—and “The Boss,” President Xi Jinping, in particular—seized this opportunity on the global stage with immense relish. Everyone at the G20—including lame duck and/or bewildered European politicos—agreed with Xi’s proposals on how to revive the global economy. After all this is what everybody wants—and needs.

The proposals include more policy coordination in fiscal, monetary and structural reform; improving the multilateral trade system (that is, the WTO, not American “NATO on trade” ploys such as TPP and TTIP); strong cross-border infrastructure spending (that’s where the Chinese-driven New Silk Roads fit in); and reforming global financial governance (as in more decision power for emerging economies).

All of the above once again fits in with China’s New Silk Roads—or One Belt, One Road, OBOR; the vastly ambitious Eurasian integration/connectivity project which is in fact Xi’s proposal of an “innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy” in action.

It does not hurt that the proposals also tie in with Beijing’s drive for the yuan to become a key feature of the global monetary system, soon to be part of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, SDR, basket.

Beijing-based Laurence Brahm, a quite reasonable China analyst, way more competent than anyone in U.S. Think Tankland, said Xi at the G20 “took center stage as a world leader, more so for convening other global leaders around multilateralism and pragmatism, calling for infrastructure and solid economics rather than ideology.”

President Barack Obama, by the way, was not even a sideshow.

And then there was Supreme Poetic Justice—as far as Hangzhou is concerned. When Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in the late 13th Century he described it as “without a doubt the finest and most splendid city in the world.”

This G20 was like a graphically illustrated preview of China as the largest economy in the world in the near future (by purchasing power parity, PPP, it already is). No wonder a visibly resentful Western corporate media “covered”—or feigned to cover—the summit like a bunch of sulking teenagers.

What mattered is that the G20 was held in Hangzhou. Talk about history coming full circle. It was only a few centuries ago when Marco Polo was so impressed by a larger, more dynamic and way more sophisticated economy than Europe’s.

It’s happening again. And “The Boss” will make sure everything works according to plan.

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online, where he wrote the column The Roving Eye from 2000 to 2014. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015. He currently lives between Paris and Bangkok.

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