Leveraging Money and Politics: The Rise of China’s Sovereign 'Leveraged' Funds and China’s Financial Statecraft

Both China and Japan are the world’s two largest foreign exchange reserves holders, but why has China used its foreign exchange reserves to establish not only one but several sovereign wealth funds, whereas Japan has refused to do so? Moreover, the world’s leading sovereign wealth funds are mostly established in commodity-exporting countries for stabilization or savings purposes, what does China, a major commodity importer, establish and use its sovereign wealth funds for? With the global expansion of China’s sovereign funds since the Global Financial Crisis, what are the implications for the role of the Chinese state in the global financial system? By systematically analysing the evolution of China’s sovereign funds complex, this talk answers these questions and illustrates how the Chinese state has leveraged both political and financial resources to establish a global network of Chinese sovereign ‘leveraged’ funds and advanced state-prioritized agenda at home and abroad. It discusses the economic and financial rational for China’s use of foreign exchange reserves to capitalize several state-owned investment funds owned by different government agencies. It also adopts ‘following the money’ approach and analyses the politics of these funds as Alexander Gerschenkron’s capital mobilizers in the international markets and agents of financial statecraft.