G-7 summit to focus on countering China

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G-7 summit to focus on countering China

Friday, 19 May 2023 | Dr Rishi Gupta

G-7 summit to focus on countering China

G7 Summit in Hiroshima will have to deal with a number of pressing issues many of which do not have simple solutions

The leaders of the G7 countries—France, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada will gather for the annual summit at the historic city of Hiroshima in Japan from 19-21 May. While they discuss issues concerning global security including a nuclear weapon-free world amidst the Russia-Ukraine War, global economic growth, international trade, and climate change, Japan—as the current chair of the G7—will be playing a crucial role in facilitating dialogue between G7 countries and the ‘Global South’on various issues including global health, China, and Ukraine among others.

G7 & ChinaIn addition to the economic cooperation and policy coordination among the G7 countries, discussions on China’s economic and strategic coercion are likely to take centre stage. Going by the discussions surrounding the Summit, the G7 is likely to issue a separate statement on economic security stressing the counter-measures to Chinese economic coercion by ensuring supply chain resilience, fair trade, and avoiding reliance on China for semiconductors, rare earth minerals, etc.Amidst these speculations, Beijing has issued its counter saying “No one is more qualified than the US to be called out for economic coercion. Japan surely knows this best from its experience with the Plaza Accord of the 1980s (and)…if G7 members truly care about economic security, they should ask the US to stop bludgeoning and curbing other countries in the name of national security, stop bullying others, and coercing allies to form exclusive blocs.” China is all up in arms and closely watching how G7 unfolds.

The Ukraine War

Other than China, the Russian aggression against Ukraine will see some serious debate. The G7 countries have been clear on the Ukraine issue—that is to resolve through peaceful means and following the Minsk agreements, which seek to secure a ceasefire, the removal of heavy weaponry, the restoration of Ukraine's authority over its borders, and the execution of political reforms. Leaders of all G7 countries have visited Ukraine and shown solidarity and supported sanctions against Russia. At the same time, it is crucial to remember that the G7 nations' attitudes and strategies regarding Ukraine may differ from one another as their relations with Russia warry in proximity.A peaceful resolution to the Ukraine Crisis may be an idle plan for the G7but considering President Putin’s no back-tracking and a potentially nuclear war-like situation, what can the world’s best economies and military powers offer to the situation, will be an important outcome to look for. It is also crucial for G7 countries to be on the same page to deal with the Russia-China bonhomie that presents a two-front challenge in the Eurasian region.  Apart from G7 countries, Japan has invited non-member states including India, South Korea, Brazil, and Australia. For Japan, the G7 summit is an important opportunity to solidify its relations with the member and non-member countries and discuss common issues like global health and bridging the gap between the ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’.

The Korean Peninsula

Among the non-member invitees include the President of South Korea—YoonSuk Yeol. The historical thaw between the two countries dates back to Japanese colonial rule over Korea from 1910 to 1945. While history continues to remind the Koreans of the brutalities of the Japanese colonial rule, events of this century too have dented the ties. In 2018, the relationship was strained due to matters of trade and naval engagement. However, during a recent visit to South Korea, Prime Minister Kishida conveyed that his ‘heart hurts’ thinking of the suffering of Koreans during its 25 years long colonization of Korea. Acceptance of Kishida’s ‘sincere apology’ by Korea holds strategic importance as they along with the US face threats from North Korea. To build effective countermeasures to North Korean missiles, Kishida will be holding a trilateral dialogue with the US and South Korea on the sidelines of the summit. The outcomes of the trilateral dialogue will be critical in addressing a predominant threat from North Korea which doubles with the Chinese advance-military aggressions in the South and the East China Sea targeting Taiwan. In the current scenario, regional threats in Korean Peninsula need global solutions.

Global South

At the G7 where China will be a major focus, India’s presence as a guest will be interesting to watch. Prime Minister Kishida invited his Indian counterpart—Narendra Modi to participate in the G7 Summit during his visit to India for the annual India-Japan Summit in March this year. Japan shares a ‘special strategic and global partnership’ with India and both find common ground on the Indo-Pacific Strategy and are members of the Quadrilateral dialogue. What is more interesting is the shared intent between Japan and India on addressing the issues faced by the ‘Global South’, thanks to the Covid-19 and Ukraine war that has acutely affected the ‘Global South’ and mandated the need for global cooperation on the same. With India as the current chair of the G20 countries, Prime Minister Kishida and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have an exceptional opportunity to discuss the issues faced by the ‘Global South’ including global health and digitalisation.

There is an acute economic disparity between the two worlds—' Global North’ and ‘Global South’ which has clearly been visible during Covid-19. Also, while the Western world managed to survive the food crisis amidst the war in Ukraine, countries in the ‘Global South’ faced a shortage of food and fuel. While the ‘Global South’ expects G7 to acknowledge their challenges and help them, G7 would want support from 100 plus countries falling in the ‘Global South’ category on Ukraine and China. Despite the acute implications of the Ukraine crisis on the ‘Global South’, the vast majority of the Global South's nations have not sided with the West in imposing sanctions on Russia. Because they cherish their independence, many countries including India, have abstained from taking sides in the developing dispute between the United States and China.How effectively G7 countries address the concerns of the ‘Global South’ including shortage of food and soaring fuel prices will also determine the latter’s approach towards leading a collective defence against China and Russia.

Way Forward

Overall, the G7 Annual Summit in Hiroshima will be a historic event where it will not just be the developed rich industrial economies discussing economic security, the presence of Quad member countries will help define the next steps for the forum seeking to counter China in the Indo-Pacific. 

(The write works with Asia Society Policy Institute, New Delhi)

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