The G-7 summit in 2023 took place at a time when the developed countries were facing a number of uncertainties, including growing geopolitical rivalries, the fight against increased inflation, and a deadlock over the debt ceiling in the United States. The leaders of the seven major industrial democracies—the United States, Germany, Canada, Italy, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom—have met to discuss the future of global relations and the economy of the world. But the growing competition between China and the G7 nations is becoming worse as the ‘China factor’ remains significant in the discussions of the leaders at the summit.
The 49th meeting of the Group of Seven summit took place in Hiroshima, which was scheduled for May 19–21, 2023. The summit was also attended by a number of leaders from countries that are not members of the G7, such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. This summit was announced when the United States government strengthened its military alliances and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region. This summit is a direct response to China’s fast military modernization and its aggressive territorial claims in the region. A demand for stability in the Indo-Pacific region was made by the leaders of the QUAD group.
Besides the G7 summit, there were discussions comprised of the United States of America, Japan, Australia, and India. Their appeal included a critique towards China being a threat in maritime domain of the region. The Chinese assertiveness, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the economy and global south were discussed in this summit, keeping China in the above. The concept of “de-risking” emerged as one of the most important takeaways from the summit. The geopolitical tensions between China and the United States have cast a shadow on China’s development prospects over global supply networks. In addition to this, the leaders of the G7 discussed the need to reduce risks and diversify connections with China. This meeting also emphasized cutting down on excessive reliance on China in crucial supply chains and building up resilience against economic pressure. The G7 leaders came to the consensus that their countries needed to reduce exposure to risk while maintaining close ties to China, which now dominates global supply chains.
At the G-7, finance ministers and central bank governors argued that they were considering taking action to oppose China’s use of “economic coercion” against other nations. The G7 nations have delivered the harshest possible criticism of China. In the context of China, this involved lessening reliance on the nation either as a source of raw materials or as a destination for the sale of completed products in order to protect business from the possibility of economic upheaval. The goal of de-risking is to decrease Beijing’s grip on global supply networks while simultaneously isolating the city altogether. The G7 statement on guaranteeing economic security and combating economic coercion did not expressly identify China, but all policies were taken towards countering China. The G7 has shown that it will endeavor to have a coordinated policy approach and will progressively concentrate on China. Over the course of the past few months, Europe’s political leaders have witnessed Chinese President Xi Jinping strengthen ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This has had a negative impact on Europe’s perception of China, which has suffered as a direct result.
Also, Beijing’s actions against Taiwan and economic sanctions against Lithuania after a dispute over Taiwan have played a part in changing opinion. Both of these events occurred as a direct result of a disagreement about Taiwan. During the meeting, the leaders of the G-7 invited President Azali of Comoros and Prime Minister Mark Brown of the Cook Islands to participate in the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. The G-7 meeting in Hiroshima has pledged to mobilize $600 billion in infrastructure investments by the year 2027 for these and other developing nations. It is important to highlight that when the G-7 summit took place China was also attending the Central Asian summit at the same time. The Western press described China’s summit with the leaders of Central Asia’s five nations as an attempt to counterbalance G7 summit. However, China’s goals for the Central Asia summit were focused on growing its economic relationships in the area.
In decoding the G7 communiqué, China has identified that, with the recent shift of NATO, the United States has been working hard to weave an anti-China net in the Western world. According to a report in Global Times, only China has been mentioned in the communiqué twenty times. It practically exaggerated the significance of every issue it could discover, including Taiwan, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang. China has criticized this summit. China has denied allegations of economic coercion, arguing that the United States is politicizing and weaponizing economic ties because of Washington’s unilateral restrictions on China and acts of breaking industrial and supply networks. After many countries voiced their opposition to the United States to push for an economic “decoupling” from China, the United States is now encouraging new perspectives such as ‘de-risking’. But the basics continuing to advocate for a decoupling. This is all part of the United States’ plan to strategically contain China’s growth.
Referring to arguments from the G7 for China to adhere by international rules, Beijing issued a statement that it has upheld the UN based international system rather than the rules imposed by western nations narrating as international rules. Following the summit, China demanded an explanation from Japanese ambassador and cautioned the United Kingdom to stop slandering China in order to prevent any deteriorations in bilateral relations. China also stated that, American chip manufacturer Micron Technology would be barred from using Chinese vital infrastructure. To China, this summit has appeared to be the subject of ruthless involvement in the internal affairs of China and smearing China, and this has made the G7 one of the greatest hazards to global peace and development. According to a few scholars, the summit in Hiroshima has signaled a revival of the West’s grouping against China.
How would the G7 summit impact China? Firstly, G7 leaders have focused their attention on China issuing a warning to Beijing about China’s militarization activities and territorial claims in the South and East China Seas. But the G7 has simultaneously trying to garner China’s backing for pressuring Russia to stop its war of Ukraine. But both China and Russia have voiced their extreme disagreement with the statement. China further accused the United States of engaging in coercive tactics. Secondly, this summit also signaled that there will be different opinions on Taiwan. While G7 leaders have prioritized Taiwan to ensure peace in the region. This has irked China as the fragmentation regarding Taiwan keeps growing strong between two blocs.
The question of Taiwan may guide this rivalry to further. Thirdly the US is also reviving the Chip alliance to isolate and de-risk from the Chinese supply chain industry. The G7 leaders and China can involve in multiple levels of confrontation regarding Taiwan, Russia-Ukraine war, followed by the chip war. With this ongoing rivalry, there will be further fragmentation between G7 countries and China. Lastly, in regards to Ukraine and China, the summit seemed to be more of a display by the United States and its allies rather than an effort to establish wider partnerships for this region. But the methods of deterrence used by both US and China will be sufficient to prevent the rapidly worsening Sino-American relations from escalating into a confrontation.
In conclusion it can be added that, this summit has been not only been detrimental to China’s sovereignty but also showed weakness in security and development interests of US. The United States and the rest of the western nations are very economically dependent on China. However, it is still unclear that de-risking policies will only be used as diplomatic language or whether it would be possible to put into practice. After this summit, the Sino-Russian axis will grow much stronger. It is also an indication that the international system is witnessing the cold war era in the 21st century and confrontation of blocs. The engagement between China, US and West would remain constructive rather than cooperative.
– Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma is a Research Intern at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).
Published in Modern Ghana [Link]