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Global Viewpoint

China should listen to Kissinger: You're on top now, start leading

China has surpassed the US as the world's largest creditor. Beijing must now take on the accompanying leadership role. Instead of a 'Marshall Plan,' why not a 'Hu Jintao plan' that recycles some of China's surplus to benefit the whole global system?

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One area where China, as the world’s largest creditor, could play a critical role is in helping to stabilize the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) through economic development – something in the interest of the whole world, not least for energy security. After all, China is already playing a significant role in Europe through buying the bonds of the most troubled countries.

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In the wake of the Arab revolutions, there was much talk of a “Marshall Plan” for the MENA countries. At the G-8 meeting in Deauville recently, French President Nicolas Sarkozy managed to raise a pledge of $20 billion for this purpose. That seems a largely hollow commitment since the advanced economies are drowning in deficits and mired in a sovereign debt crisis.

Instead of a “Marshall Plan,” why not a “Hu Jintao plan” sponsored by the G-20 in which China recycles some of its massive reserve surplus, along with the Gulf states, in a way that benefits the whole global system?

As Kissinger suggested, just as the Marshall Plan merged a rising America’s obligations and self-interest in shaping the world order of the last half of the 20th century, might now be the right time for China to take up its new role in such a way? The Americans were right to listen to Ernest Bevin. The Chinese would be right to listen to Henry Kissinger.

Nathan Gardels is editor-in-chief of the Global Viewpoint Network/Tribune Media and NPQ. He is also a senior advisor to the Berggruen Institute.

© 2011 Global Viewpoint Network/Tribune Media Services. Hosted online by The Christian Science Monitor.

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