GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 684, 28 May 2023

G7 Summit: Unity, Polarization and Challenges
Rishika Yadav

What happened?
During 19-21 May, Japan hosted the 49th G7 summit to discuss geopolitical, economic, and climate issues amidst the Ukraine war and growing tensions with China. The G7 comprises the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, with the EU also participating. Besides, Australia, Brazil, India, and South Korea were invited. The summit concluded with a communique that addressed the following: North Korea's nuclear program, the violence in Sudan and Myanmar, and the Taliban's treatment of women. The statement said: "Through our G7 Leaders' Statement, we pledge to enhance diplomatic, financial, humanitarian, and military assistance to Ukraine, increase pressure on Russia and its supporters, and mitigate the negative impacts of the war on vulnerable populations worldwide." 

On 19 May, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to discuss security cooperation, potentially including nuclear deterrence. Also on 19 May, Zelenskyy's met US President Joe Biden. They discussed collaboration to strengthen Ukraine's defence capabilities and implement the Ukrainian Peace Formula. They also exchanged views on projects for Ukraine's reconstruction and recovery. 

What is the background?
First, efforts to restrict Russia and its challenges. G7 countries are united on Russia's violation of international laws in its aggression against Ukraine. They see it as an act of aggression posing a global threat, violating fundamental norms and principles of the international community. Although the current sanctions on Russia are already stringent, the G7 has emphasized expanding restrictions further in areas like energy, non-energy trade, and technology. However, the effort to stop Russia has been ineffective in controlling Russia due to fragmented trade relations. Divisions exist within the G7; the European members are hesitant to support permanent shutdowns of Russian gas pipelines due to their reliance on Russian gas.

Second, G7's divided stance on China. The G7 countries disagree over China's global influence. While the EU aimed to maintain constructive cooperation with China, it also urged China to exert pressure on Russia. In contrast, Japan's Prime Minister Kishida announced plans to double Tokyo's military budget in response to China's military presence in the South China Sea, receiving support from President Biden. These differing positions on China reveal a lack of consensus among G7 members, in contrast to their united stance on Russia.

Third, rethinking G7 and Global South dynamics. As China's influence in the global South grows, the G7 is grappling with how to effectively maintain engagements with the global South. The strained G7 and Global South relationship remain a pressing concern, with specific actions still being considered. Japan and Germany have taken the lead in reevaluating the dynamics between the G7 and the global South. They have backed the Global Investment and Infrastructure Partnership (GIIP) launched at the summit, aiming to raise USD 600 billion by 2023 to fund infrastructure projects in the global South, as an alternative to China's BRI. It is seen as addressing concerns about debt traps and environmental risks. They have also advocated for increased participation of Global South representatives in G7 summits, inviting countries like India, Australia, South Korea, and South Africa as observers. 

What does it mean?
First, the G7 communique, intended as a template for the summit, emphasizes the need for accountability for war crimes and atrocities committed by Russia, reaffirming the commitment to intensify and enforce sanctions. Russia faces increasing isolation due to sanctions, marking its most isolated state. 
Second, despite the sanctions on Russia's trade with G7 countries, China, India, and Turkey have filled the gap by increasing imports of Russian energy resources. On the other hand, Zelensky's efforts to secure more support at the G7 summit resulted in Western allies supplying advanced fighter jets without any commitments. However, Ukraine's counter-offensive remains uncertain.

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