China’s Emerging Role in Global Governance

Discipline: Politics and International Relations
Instructor: Reynolds
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1415
End: 1530
Field Work: Day 1 | Singapore Download Syllabus

In today’s globalizing world, a wide range of human activities and interests spill across national borders.  Trade agreements, arms control, greenhouse gas reduction, Internet protocol standardization, and many other areas promise massive mutual gains from international coordination and cooperation via institutionalized rules of the game.

Building governing institutions and enforcing norms and rules is the traditional province of government.  But in a world of nation states which zealously guard their sovereignty, “government” softens into “governance”.   In the absence of a single global rules-maker, a plethora of global governance organizations (GGOS) has emerged instead.   To differing degrees, GGOs have been created by, and are responsive to, national governments, private sector companies, ngo’s and individual citizens.

Most countries in the world participate in GGOs as rules-takers, deferring to the power of the United States and a few other major powers to make the rules.  But China is a different case.  Throughout human history, China was the world’s most populous country.  Before the Industrial Revolution, China had the world’s largest economy as well.  Now, as it acquires industrial technology, China is reclaiming that economic ranking, and seeks a commensurate seat at the tables where global rules are made.  How will China participate in, and transform, the world of global governance?

This course explores that question, by exploring a half dozen particular cases.  Students will form teams, each focusing on a particular governance area.  We will surely deal with trade (WTO), exchange rates (IMF, OECD, G20), intellectual property (WIPO) and climate change.

Field Work

Country: Singapore
Day: 1

In the past twenty years, China has emerged as a huge and growing economy.  It is the world’s largest trading nation, and therefore a major player in the global governance system.  Within the IMF, the WTO, the World Health Organization and so many other international rules-making bodies, China now expects to have a voice.  As this new power takes a seat at the table, what changes do we see in the rules, and in the rules-making process?  Our Singapore field lab gives us a chance to pose that question to experts at the Singapore Monetary Authority (Singapore’s central bank).  In the 1990s, the SMA tutored the People’s Bank of China in exchange-rate management.  Ten years later, China and the U.S. locked horns over fixed versus flexible exchange rates.  As I write this, accusations of “currency manipulation” are flying around the U.S. presidential campaign.  We’ll get a Singaporean perspective on all this.  After lunch, we will meet with students and faculty at Singapore Management University, to talk more about China and global governance.
Academic Objectives: 1. Understand how government intervention affects the exchange rate, and how Chinese expertise in this area grew through tutelage by Singaporean experts. 2. Learn about China’s participation in Asean and other regional governance bodies. 3. Compare industrial policy in Singapore and in China: Which government intervenes more deeply?  Which is more successful?