Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2013

Productive Power and Policy Change in Global Finance: An Analysis of China's Financial Policy Framing in the Bretton Woods Institutions

Sandra Heep

September 2013

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


Against the backdrop of China’s increasingly influential role in global finance and the debate on the emergence of a “Beijing Consensus,” this paper examines whether the ideology that China promotes in the Bretton Woods institutions is conducive to the initiation of financial policy change at the international level. Drawing on Barnett and Duvall’s (2005) conceptualization of productive power, Snow and Benford’s (1988) framing theory and Freeden’s (1996) understanding of ideology, the paper develops a theoretical framework for the analysis of international policy framing. Following an overview of China’s rise in global finance, it identifies the core elements of the ideology that has been promoted by Chinese government officials in the Bretton Woods institutions since the onset of the global financial crisis. The paper argues that China’s ruling elites will only be able to initiate a shift in the global consensus on acceptable financial policies if the frames that they propagate succeed in striking a balance between ideological continuity and change.