History Matters: China and Global Governance

42 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2011

See all articles by Wendy Dobson

Wendy Dobson

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Date Written: December 8, 2010


This paper focuses on the two-way relationship between China and the international economic system. China’s embrace of the global institutions and their rules and norms helped guide its spectacular economic growth and integration into the world economy.

China’s impact on the global economic order is still an open question, however. Its sheer size and dynamism makes it a force to be reckoned with. So far its influence has been largely constructive but recent signs of assertiveness raise questions about the future. History matters to the answer. Memories of both historical pre-eminence and humiliation drive nationalism and assertiveness at the same time that China identifies with developing countries as a counterbalance rather than as a leader or enforcer of the global norms and rules.

The paper evaluates China’s role in the regional and global economic institutions by applying this criterion of economic cooperation: is China willing to modify national policies in recognition of international economic interdependence? The evidence presented is mixed reflecting the complexities of China’s modernization and re-emergence. China actively supports the order in some forums, shows passivity in others yet in still others increasingly asserts its own interests regardless of the global rules. The paper draws conclusions and future implications of this new ‘normal’.

Keywords: China, international economic cooperation, economic integration

JEL Classification: F02, F15, F55

Suggested Citation

Dobson, Wendy, History Matters: China and Global Governance (December 8, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1906830 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1906830

Wendy Dobson (Contact Author)

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