By the suggestions of the finance ministers and central bankers of G7, the Ministers forum was increased to 20 nations in December 1999, adding Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, (South) Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and EU (included the significant 5 Gold Bricks, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Nine years later, just before the 2008 global finance crisis occurred, the finance ministers, to their collective wisdom and credit, decided that their national leaders should be invited to the G20 meeting as well. Each country would take turn to host the meeting, last year the G20 was held in Belek, Serik, Antalya, Turkey.
This year 2016, China is hosting the G20 from September 4-5 in Hangzhou City, a city famous for its picturesque West Lake and rich Chinese literature and cultural heritage. Instead of selecting her biggest top four cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, famous for hosting international events, China has deliberately selected Hangzhou as the host for G20. Judging from the preparation that Hangzhou has put in for G20 and B20, a summit of business leaders of G20 nations with focus on industrial innovation, one can naturally appreciate why Hangzhou as a top ranking civilian industrial city full of enterprising and entrepreneurial spirit is selected as the G20 host. The world biggest online enterprise, Alibaba, is headquartered in Hangzhou, which is a testimony to Hangzhou's industrial power and innovation capability. Sure enough Hangzhou has not disappointed the G20 and B20 attendees.
Before the meeting begun on Monday, 9/4, there were already news-highlights hitting the world press. The arrival of G20 leaders and their meeting with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping were prominently featured not only on Chinese television but certainly on their own national TV. It is definitely a busy and tiring week for the host H.E. Xi Jinping, who attended a marathon of receptions and meetings with the leaders of the G20 nations and their business and industrial leaders. The host was addressed as H.E. Xi Jinping on his nameplate, many Chinese have wondered whether H.E. means anything other than His Excellency, an unusual title used in China.
By being physically in China visiting Beijing and Shanghai in the first half of September, the author had the opportunity of witnessing the continuous coverage of the G20 event by the visual media as well as hearing the sideline discussions off the mainstream media. Firstly, the TV coverage of the G20 event is extremely educational for the Chinese general public, especially for the young people who received a heavy dosage of international affairs. Rightly so, the news and discussions were more related to the bi-lateral encounters between the leaders of China and another country but there was also a significant focus on security issue in the world. For example, the placement of THAD anti ballistic missiles was bright on the media's radar screen. The exchanges of dialogs between Presidents Xi and Obama and Xi and Park would certainly make impacts on the future course of the event even though the parties stuck with their pre-meeting official positions. Perhaps, this is the significance of G20 and the value of having annual G20 meetings where courses of international events and relations could be modified by physical encounters of G20 leaders. The news media of course had a exciting field day at the G20, while they were anxious to grab the headlines resulting from G20's major resolution, plenty of gossiping report such as the missing red carpet for President Obama or hitter verbal exchange between security staff between the visiting party and the host.
Other than the political significance of the G20, exemplified above, other significance is in the impact on world economy and a side benefit of cultural interaction exhibited in its art performances. The impact on business and industrial development can be seen and projected into the future from the meeting agenda of the G20's companion B20 meeting. The continuity of B20 as an annual event will sure make positive influence on business and industrial cooperation across national boundaries.
Of course, the main focus of G20 is on economy with twin emphasis on trade and investment which are the two main locomotives for propelling economic growth. 2016 G20 meeting have concluded the following solutions:
The G20 shall provide clear direction and planning steps for world economy; Inject new energy into and create innovative method for economic growth; improve financial management and raise ability to resist financial crisis; reenergize international trade and investment and expand their impact to construct an open world economy; and promote inclusive and interactive economic development and let the fruits of G20 benefitting the entire world.
Under the above broad principles, the specific benefits to the global citizens expected are jobs creation, more pocket money, better and cheaper goods, economic growth for everyone and cooperative efforts for dealing with climate change.
One other significant impact brought on by 2016 G20, perhaps not deliberately intended in its initial intent, is culture. Although culture was not specifically included in the agenda of the G20 meeting, but through the G20 entertaining event, culture had always been prominently highlighted. The water theatric show presented on the famous West Lake in Hangzhou for entertaining the visiting dignitaries of G20 and B20 was a spectacular performance. The show was created and conducted by the world-known movie and theater director, Zhang Yi-mou, with hundreds of talented Chinese artists participated presenting a variety of art shows full of western and eastern culture elements. The daring, rich and impressive innovation of arts, music and technology shown through the theatric presentation on water set a great milestone in art performance and integration of Eastern and Western culture. Such an event not only highlighted the intended focus on the theme to push new economic growth through innovation and creativity but also sets example exhibiting mutual cultural impact from multiple nationalities. No doubt this impressive Hangzhow G20 show inherited and inspired from previous G20 cultural shows and expanded by incorporating more creativity, innovation and cultural elements will have lasting impact to future G20 cultural performances and making a significant contribution to creating a boundary less world culture.
Similar to other international fora such as APEC, G20 Hangzhow offers a great platform for dialog among world leaders to gain understanding of global issues and to reach consensus for solving problems and promoting international cooperation. For the 2016 G20, one can cite a number of meaningful initiatives: First, the development issue has been prominently placed under the global policy framework. Second, concrete action plan has been put in place to realize the UN 2030 sustainable economic development. And third, a new growth has been articulated as an important agenda to define a new growth blue print and specific action plans for achieving new world economic growth through innovation. These new emphases were remarked by the host leader Xi Jinping in the closing session of G20. Indeed, this new focus on innovation is expected to be the key for new economic growth.