China, the world and the next decade: better growth, better climate

This paper argues that China’s internal reform agenda, which is rebalancing the economy for strong, clean and inclusive growth, is strongly linked to its actions in its major trading partner countries, especially those associated with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

With China’s influence, both through its powerful international voice and its role as one of the world’s biggest sources of finance, the country’s trading partners are in a good position to embark on cleaner growth that will, in turn, facilitate China’s own domestic rebalancing.

The authors examine some of the principal elements of a strategy for the BRI that benefits recipient countries and China, and that can also foster environmentally sustainable policies around the world. They review some of the practical aspects of investments in infrastructure in BRI countries and also provide ideas on how China’s own experience and learning can be incorporated into a BRI strategy that aims to foster green investments.

Key messages

  • China has a key role in the global agenda of sustainable development as the urgency of the next decade becomes clear in terms of meeting the Paris Agreement targets.
  • The Belt and Road Initiative could help build a connected and sustainable world economy, but only if the investment in infrastructure is managed with sound and consistent environmental criteria.
  • Investment in clean technology for BRI partner countries creates benefits including: better connectivity and new global markets; better infrastructure, enhancing domestic growth; transference of skills from China outwards; and reliable, affordable access to clean electricity.
  • China’s continuing domestic reforms and rebalancing for sustainable growth provide lessons for BRI partner countries, within three important themes: sustained and clean investments, clear strategy and delivery for cities; investment in growth, labour and upskilling; local service provision and taxation driving sustainable growth.

This paper was submitted to the China Development Forum 2018.