China’s approach to global economic governance

From the WTO to the AIIB
Chatham House briefing Published 6 December 2021 ISBN: 978 1 78413 505 8
A woman walks in front of a sign celebrating the twentieth anniversary of China joining the WTO.

Dr Jue Wang

Former Associate Fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme

Michael Sampson

Assistant Professor of International Relations, Institute of Political Science, Leiden University

China’s trade and development finance objectives and Western concerns about these have remained relatively consistent over the last two decades. However, as China’s economy and influence have expanded, the response of the international community has become more robust and less flexible.

To achieve its goals, particularly when facing opposition within multilateral institutions, China has adopted a multifaceted approach to global economic governance. This strategy is driven by domestic needs, strategic concerns and the country’s development experience. In particular, Beijing has sought to use multilateral and bilateral mechanisms to stimulate internal reforms in global institutions, and to increase China’s influence in developing rules and norms. 

China has established itself as a crucial participant in international institutions over the last 20 years, particularly in the World Trade Organization and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Its increasingly complex engagement in global governance will continue to simultaneously create tensions alongside opportunities for deeper cooperation.