Journal : Global Times (Chinese) Date : Author : Sun Chenghao Page No. : NA

The British government recently issued invitations to India, South Korea, and Australia to participate in the G7 summit next year. The British Prime Minister’s Office stated that the invitation is aimed at “cooperating with like-minded democracies to promote common interests and meet common challenges”. Although there is no mention of China, many media speculate that if the G7 summit is expanded next year, the China issue will become one of the key issues.

As early as May of this year, the United Kingdom was ready to move, throwing out the concept of G7 plus India, South Korea and Australia to form the so-called “Democracy 10” (D10), arguing that this alliance includes both traditional Western powers and India, South Korea and other important Asian “democratic countries “. The main topics to be discussed among the “democratic countries” would perhaps include 5G and key industrial chains, with the goal of pointing directly at China. This time, the Johnson administration officially issued an invitation to the three countries. On the one hand, its effort is to contribute to the realization of a “global Britain” after Brexit and project good home diplomacy. On the other hand, it is also considered to be echoing the United States, with which it has a special relationship, and follow it to create an “anti-China” grouping. The “alliance” is trying to activate the aging G7 mechanism by adding fresh blood.

However, the G7’s efforts to build consensus and strength to address the “China challenge” will not only continue to lag behind the times, but will also further intensify internal divisions. The predecessor of the G7 was the Group of Five (G5) established in the 1950s, which included the United States, Japan, West Germany, France and the United Kingdom, and was later joined by Italy and Canada, and at one point by Russia as the G8. The G7 was born in the context of the economic difficulties of the major industrialized countries in the West, hoping to discuss global political and economic issues through this mechanism, and played a relatively important role for a certain period of time.

In the background of a century of changes and a century of epidemics, the obsolescence and disutility of the G7 mechanism has gotten highlighted. After the 2008 financial crisis, the US’s position in the international structure was further weakened, the world’s multi-polarization trend became more evident, and the international structure entered a period of transformation and adjustment. The dynamic of the “East rising and West falling” and “South rising and North falling” is difficult to stem.  In the face of the new changes in the international landscape, especially the new reality of the rise of developing countries, the G7 has failed to represent the mainstream consensus of the international community and has become a “small group” for the selfish interests of some Western countries. The G7 has been unable to coordinate resources and is unwilling to use them to focus on pressing global and regional issues. Attempts to legitimize the G7’s renewal by joining forces with China will only make the mechanism go further and further astray

The G7 Group, which is dominated by the United States and Europe, is full of rifts and rigidities. The reason why it is falling apart is that the “three views” of the world, security, and power continue to intensify. Pror to the 2003 Iraq war, U.S. scholar Robert Kagan had pointed out that “the U.S. and Europe have divergent views of the world. They parted ways on power, the use of power, and the morality of power.” During the Obama administration, the U.S.-European conceptual dispute seemed to be reconciled somewhat due to the similarity of his personal political philosophy with Europe, but with the Trump administration, this conceptual chasm came to the fore again. The divergence within G7 is a real challenge that can hardly be avoided, and in this context, the hasty expansion of its membership will only exacerbate the original differences and problems.

In the past two decades, rifts within the West have continued to deepen. The West is no longer the West of the past. It is no wonder that Europe has issued a call of “the West is missing”. One is the mismatch of world views. The United States and Europe have completely different perceptions of the world situation. The Trump administration’s judgment on the international situation is extremely negative and pessimistic. In the “National Security Strategy” report released in 2017, it stated that the world is facing increasingly fierce economic, political and military issues. Biden does not deny the fierce competition faced by the United States, but must adjust Trump’s simple and crude way of competition and return to the “smart power” represented by “reach out diplomacy.” Europe still believes that international cooperation is the general trend and hopes to revive the international order through an upgraded version of global governance.

Secondly, the incompatibility of the security concepts. Many official documents of the Trump administration list China and Russia as strategic competitors, and believe that competition between major powers is a major challenge to the national interests of the United States. The Biden team also does not shy away from positioning Sino-US relations as strategic competition as the main and supplementary. With conditional cooperation. Europe believes that the main challenges facing the world are still transnational issues, such as terrorism, infectious diseases, climate change, etc., and does not regard geopolitical challenges as the primary external security threat.

Third, the power view is incompatible. With a pessimistic judgment of the international situation, the U.S. places more emphasis on hard power, and Trump’s proposed policy of strengthening the military and seeking balance by strength is a manifestation of this view.  Biden emphasizes uniting alliances and restoring U.S. world leadership,  He also supports maintaining the US military superiority, including strengthening NATO construction and continuing to promote the transfer of superior military resources to the Asia-Pacific region. Europe, whose hard power is significantly less than that of the United States, places more emphasis on soft power and normative power and believes that it should exert its regulatory power in international affairs and cannot blindly pursue military power.From this, the United States and Europe, as the main members of the G7, have very different views on how to compete with other major powers. The main goal of the United States is to maintain hegemony, and it always seeks to suppress other countries that might affect its hegemony. Europe is more concerned about the peaceful environment needed for its own development and upholding its inherent ideas and philosophical values ​​while taking care of the concerns and interests of its allies. Therefore, on the issue of competition with China, there will be a sharp difference between the two: the U.S. targeting China is a systemic confrontation, while Europe is competing for influence within the same system.The three “Indo-Pacific” countries invited by Britain also have their own agendas, making it more difficult for this improvised alliance to forge an anti-China consensus. Both South Korea and Australia maintain close economic and trade ties with China, making it difficult for them to confront China fully in the security and technology fields. Although India once wanted to use the US “Indo-Pacific strategy” to dovetail with its “Act East policy”, it is not willing to sacrifice its long-held strategic autonomy in the process of deferring to the US. In short, if the G7 does not reflect on how to keep up with the times, but tries to inject vitality by expanding its membership and opposing China, I am afraid that it will only be self-defeating, digging deeper in the dead sand and ending up in weakness.

(The author is a scholar at the Institute of American Studies, China Institute of Modern International Relations)


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