China and the international economic order: Bretton Woods, Bandung and beyond
It is commonly argued that China is rising within an international economic order not of its own creation. Yet, Nationalist China played an influential role in the development of the ‘Bretton Woods’ institutions – the International Monetary Fund, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – created in the dying days of World War II. Similarly, the People’s Republic of China played a major role in international economic talks at the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung. While Bretton Woods set up the dominant postwar economic order, Bandung was catalytic in establishing the post-colonial critique of that order. Drawing on newly available Chinese sources, this working paper examines: (1) how a leading, non-Western state understood the transition from an imperial economic order to a more intrusive, multilateral form of global economic ordering; (2) the extent to which the interests and values of a relatively weak state were reflected in this evolving order; and (3) how global inequalities in power shaped the content and reception of Chinese economic ideas.