G7 leaders seek to secure wider support for Ukraine, as well as for its efforts to stand up to China
G7 leaders meeting this week in Hiroshima, western Japan, will not be alone: eight third countries, including major economies, have been invited to the summit in an attempt to sway their opinion of Russia and China.
The invitees and the reasoning behind the “opening”
Large regional powers, such as India and the Brazilwill also be present in Hiroshima, as will Indonesiarepresenting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Vietnamthe South Koreathe Australiabut also the Cook Islandsrepresenting the Pacific Islands, and Comoros, which holds the presidency of the African Union.
These countries will participate in several working sessions, as well as bilateral ones, which are aimed at bringing together some leaders reluctant to oppose Russia’s war in Ukraine and Beijing’s growing military ambitions.
“It’s common now that the guest list at these events is quite long, but not everyone is invited,” explains Tristan Naylor, a professor at the University of Cambridge.
The G7 wants to be perceived as a “club dedicated to democracy” and seeks to secure wider support for Ukraine as well as for its efforts to oppose Chinathe expert on international summits notes to AFP.
India is a longtime military ally of Moscow and its “ambiguous position” on the war in Ukraine differs from that of other major democracies, recalls Naylor, who sees the summit as an opportunity “to try to rally India in the G7’s cause, although this is heralded as complicated.
Although Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the G7 summit via video conference, a Russian delegation is also expected in New Delhi in November for the G20 summit, so it is unlikely that India will suddenly change its positions.
“Fighting Chinese Influence”
Another “important objective” of the Hiroshima summit will be to offer an alternative to China’s massive infrastructure investment in the world, Naylor reckons.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was in Beijing last month, where his country’s main trading partner pledged to continue working for “high-quality development” and “new opportunities” for Brazil.
Lula, who criticized the ubiquity of the US dollar during his trip, is far from the only leader China is flirting with, and the G7 countries want to show they can offer an alternative.
“The idea of countering Chinese influence and supporting a rules-based order in the countries of the South” will also be an important issue at the summit, notes Chris Johnstone, an expert at the Center for International and Strategic Studies.
Japan is already working on this front, and its Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi have made several trips this year to countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Pacific island nations.
Kishida announced in March in New Delhi a plan to invest $75 billion in infrastructure and other sectors in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030.
He also reiterated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “the main reason” for the spike in food and energy prices, which hit developing countries hardest.
“However there is a trend that aims to divide the world by giving the false impression that G7 sanctions against Russia are to blame” for inflation, Mozambique’s Kishida said in early May.
Japan is also active in the Quad, an informal alliance that also includes India, the US and Australia.
Tokyo and Seoul are also trying to repair their relationship damaged by historical differences, and Kishida is expected to take part in trilateral talks with his South Korean and US counterparts on the sidelines of the summit.
However, not all the invitees are likely to be so conciliatory, according to Yuishi Hosoya, a professor of international politics at Keio University.
“We should not take for granted that they will offer broad and strong support” to Ukraine and other G7 initiatives, he wrote in an op-ed last month.
Japan should, according to him, “try to understand exactly what each country is seeking, recognize the diversity of the international community and make concrete contributions.”
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