June 19, 2008 Despite having the world's largest GDP when measured in terms of purchasing-power parities, the third-largest share in world exports, and the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, China has only a minor role in the global financial system. Its banks have a modest international presence; China's currency, the renminbi, is virtually not used outside the country; and Chinese capital markets are not a significant source of financing for foreign borrowers. China's modest level of integration into the global financial system is explained by the emphasis given to domestic policy priorities. As the Chinese economy matures, and as reforms strengthen the domestic financial system, China will become more important in global financial markets. Changes are already occurring as China's financial might is being channeled towards overseas investments, and the authorities have committed to greater exchange rate flexibility. These changes will facilitate integration into the global financial system. In this article, the authors describe the current situation and speculate on the future evolution of Chinese financial institutions and markets.
China's integration into the world economy has benefited its people by reducing poverty and raising living standards, and it has benefited the industrialized world by producing manufactured goods at lower cost. It has also raised geopolitical concerns as China's power grows, economic concerns as the manufacturing base in many industrialized countries erodes, and polemics as proposals of protectionist measures to counter China's export growth are put forward.