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As the world gets more complex, many are questioning what role the Group of Twenty plays in terms of future world governance. The G20 was established on December 16, 1999, in Berlin. It was founded as an international economic cooperation forum that was the product of multilateralism.

With the G8 as the foundation, 12 world-class economies were added to form the G20. The original intention of the group was to promote open and constructive discussions to discuss issues between industrialized and emerging markets in order to seek international cooperation and to promote sustainable international economic growth.

In its operations, the G20 forms its interim secretariat by rotating the chairman position, unlike traditional international organizations. The rotating chair sets the summit’s topic of discussion, such as finance, trade, environment, energy, etc. The rotation makes discussions open and flexible.

In many parts of the world, politics is deteriorating to a point that calls for the G20 to defend multilateralism and maintain global order. Organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization were effective in maintaining multilateralism and maintaining global stability but also acted mostly in favor of developed Western countries for decades.

As we progress through the 21st century, the emergence of developing countries has led the United States to believe that its dominance is being challenged. It began to pursue unilateralism and adopted protectionist economic policies to maximize its own interests. The Americans have openly pushed agendas abroad and disregarded international rules. As a result, trade conflicts have become more prevalent than ever.

The key objectives of the G20 are to face the challenges of world development and governance. World leaders seek consensus among major powers on solutions that will effectively solve problems. The Osaka Summit this time around has invited the United Nations, the WTO, the International Labor Organization, the IMF and the World Bank to facilitate the implementation of the accords reached by the summit.

To cope effectively with the increasing unprecedented challenges faced by the world economic order, we must curb unilateralism and defend multilateralism. By reflecting upon history, and taking a good look at reality now, it can be seen that scientific and technological advancement has not benefited everyone in any era. The United States continues to pursue unilateralism and maintain its monopolies in science, technology and finance. The imbalance of technological progress will become more obvious and the entire world will see that the economy will find it difficult to move forward as well.

According to the latest statistics released by the WTO, the World Trade Climate Index for the second quarter of this year was 96.3, the lowest since March 2010. The report issued by G20 finance ministers meeting in early June pointed out that the while the global economy is gaining momentum, the downside risks are still outstanding, especially with the way trade conflicts have escalated and geopolitics have changed.

The upcoming technological revolution will be driven by multilateralism. As the international division of labor deepens, unilateralism is no longer in trend. Only through multilateralism can we expand the new space of economic globalization – which is precisely the charm of the G20.

The G20 mechanism is an indispensable mechanism for negotiating and maintaining stability not only in the present but in future multilateral issues. Tensions in international trade will not ease any time soon. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s 2019 World Investment Report, transnational direct investment fell by 13% last year to US$1.3 trillion – the lowest since the global financial crisis in 2008.

What all of this shows is that the need for regulation is more urgent than ever. In addition, atypical security threats such as cybercrime, climate change and refugee crises are all issues that cannot be solved by one country alone. Multilateral mechanisms are essential to promote openness, dialogue and the effective development of world peace.

This article was first published on and was translated by Kamaran Malik.

Su Shiwei

Su Shiwei is a researcher at the China Strategy Institute of Ocean Engineering and professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He has PhD degrees in engineering, military and political science and contributes to the research of China's strategies of economic and technology development. He is also a researcher of the Shanghai Pudong Pilotage Project. Previously, he was a colonel in China's air force.

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