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Will China Stand in the Way of Global Health?

As the current president of the G20, Italy has taken up a proposal to create a Global Health Board, modeled on the highly successful Financial Stability Board that was created in response to the 2008 financial crisis. By opposing the idea, China is showing that it isn't ready for global leadership.

LONDON – Last month, I lamented that the leaders of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) seem incapable of agreeing on coordinated policies that would benefit their own economies and the world. Now, I want to focus on a specific example that helps to illustrate the BRICS’ role – and that of China, in particular – in weakening global governance.

Since this time last year, I have been a commissioner on the World Health Organization’s independent Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development, which is chaired by former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. In our final report, published last month, one of our central and most exciting recommendations was for the G20 to create a new Global Health Board (GHB), following the successful model of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) that was established in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

After lying mostly dormant since its creation in 1999, the G20 sprang to life in 2008-09, proving to be the ideal body for managing the global financial crisis. Because it brought together all the important “emerging economies,” including the BRICS, Argentina, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, it was the most significant positive development in global governance so far this century.

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