By Moshi Israel
The 2023 G7 summit, in Hiroshima, Japan started on 19th May and concluded on 21st May. The participating G7 countries include; the United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Canada, Japan, Italy, and France. The European Union also participates in all discussions as a guest represented jointly by the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission. An invitation was also extended to BRICS members and emerging economic powerhouses, India and Brazil. The president of war-torn Ukraine also participated in the summit. Additional countries were invited to fill up the sixteen sits available at the summit including Comoros and the Cook Islands representing the African Union and Pacific Islands Forum, respectively, as their current chairs.
The summit concerned itself with two major perspectives; Upholding the so-called international order based on the rule of law and outreach to the Global South.
The choice to focus on these two perspectives provides an insight into the major itch on the back of G7 countries. First of all, it signals that the G7 is of the view that their international rules-based order is under threat and secondly, they acknowledge the fact that they are losing influence in the Global South. Naturally, the blame is always placed on some external enemy and little focus is put on self-reflection.
Furthermore, the summit discussed a couple of issues. On top of the list was the issue of Regional Affairs with Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific being of major concern. Other important issues included; Nuclear disarmament and Non-proliferation, Economic Resilience and Economic Security, Climate and Energy, Food, Health, and Development. Concerns on Gender, Human Rights, Digitalization, and Science and Technology were highlighted.
However, most of these important topics were not the highlight of the summit. Instead, the 2023 G7 Summit is now infamous for its anti-China rhetoric and has come off as yet another “Us Vs Them” political rally. This is a dangerous reinventing of the cold-war mentality that was detrimental to Global peace. The British Prime Minister cited China as representing “the world’s greatest challenge to security and prosperity.” Although many are left wondering whose ‘security’ and whose ‘prosperity’ Mr. Rishi Sunak is referring to. Furthermore, the G7 leaders agreed to establish an initiative to counter economic ‘coercion.’ Jumping on the anti-china chorus, the leaders of the QUAD group- India, Australia, Japan, and the US called for ‘peace and stability in the Indo-pacific maritime domain’ in an attempt to jibe at China. Overall, the G7 countries released a communique that ‘warned’ China over its ‘militarisation activities’ in the Asia-pacific region.
On the other hand, Beijing hit back at the G7 by calling the summit a collective effort to ‘smear and attack China.’ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China also pointed out that the G7 was ‘hindering international peace, undermining regional stability and curbing other countries’ development.’ This statement will most likely resonate with many countries in the Global South. Also, on the summit’s final day, Chinese regulators barred Chinese infrastructure from using US chip maker, Micron Technology after the latter failed a two-month security review.
All this highlights the increasing gap in cooperation between Beijing and the West. Although President Biden expressed hope for the rejuvenation of China-US relations, it now sounds like empty rhetoric. The G7 countries tried to input a ‘positive note’ on the summit by claiming that they wanted ‘constructive and stable relations’ with Beijing and aimed to ‘de-risk’ rather than ‘de-couple’ from their relations with China. Unsurprisingly too, there was no active support for an end to hostilities in Ukraine but rather an escalation of the conflict through further military aid. The only viable solution to the situation in Ukraine according to the West is the complete defeat or withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine. Only time can be the judge of such a position.
It is safe to conclude that the G7 summit did not bring forward any new ideas or innovative ways to handle Global turmoil but instead resorted to tired and tried tactics that help no one by increasing tensions. The pattern is clear and spells tribal warfare where everyone joins a camp and fights to crush a perceived enemy. It is a kind of politics where national interest takes precedence over any progressive notion of healthy competition and cooperation. It is perhaps, high time the words of seasoned diplomat Henry Kissinger are taken seriously. In an interview with the British Historian Niall Ferguson, published by the Spanish newspaper “El Mundo,” Kissinger noted that a ‘second cold war fought between the United States and China could be more dangerous than the first one.’ He further noted that such a war could ‘overthrow civilization, if not destroy it altogether.’ He also observed that waiting for China to ‘Westernise’ was not a plausible strategy and did not think ‘World domination is a Chinese concept.’
The global south eventually emerges as the loser from the summit because once again the West only reaches out not to reinvent relations based on equal opportunities and mutual respect but as a strategy to curb China’s influence and to rally support against Russia.
The Writer is a Research Fellow with DWC