G-7 Summit and the Future of Asia

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At the G-7 Foreign Ministers Meeting, held in London under the term presidency of Britain, emphasis on Russia’s “destructive” activities and China’s military-economic ambition with expansionism in the decisions taken, raised questions about the future of Asia. The decisions taken on the G-7 platform, which brings together the 7 most developed economies of the world (USA, Canada, England, Italy, France, Germany, Japan) and the European Union (EU), determine the agenda of international politics and necessitate to develop forethoughts regarding issue.

First of all, in the final declaration of the meeting, the Foreign Ministers of the G-7 countries stressed China’s “dangerous” military activities, especially in the Gulf of Taiwan and the South China Sea, and “human rights violations” in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. In this sense, Italy and Germany did not want “threatening” statements against China to be included in the final declaration; nevertheless, criticism towards China was included.

Despite the minor objections and concerns raised by Europe, the declaration contained the following statements:[1]

“”We reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral action that could escalate tensions and undermine regional stability and international rule-based order, and express our serious concern about reports of militarization, coercion and intimidation in the region.”

In addition, the Ministers call China to act in accordance with its global economic role and to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities regarding the liberal order. Following these warnings, the Ministers said they would seek opportunities to cooperate with China to promote regional and global peace, security and prosperity.

Another important point in the agenda of the G-7 Foreign Ministers Meeting was Russia’s “irresponsible and destabilizing activities” in Ukraine and Crimea. The Ministers listed these “destructive” activities of Russia in their final declaration as follows:[2]

“This includes the large build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders and in illegally-annexed Crimea, its malign activities aimed at undermining other countries’ democratic systems, its malicious cyber activity, and use of disinformation.”

Although the G-7 countries explicitly declared that they support Ukraine, they did not make concrete suggestions on what steps could be taken against these “destructive” actions of Russia. According to many analysts, although European countries have a greater national capacity than China and Russia combined, they have so far failed to respond effectively to either country.

In the face of these criticisms from G-7 countries, which we can call Western or liberal countries, Russia and China perceive the USA as the main responsible and claim that Washington is provoking European countries and the rest of the world. China argues that the West is no longer shaping the international system and determining the world’s agenda. For this reason, the reactions of the G-7 countries are not taken too seriously by both Russia and China. The only addressee for Russia and China is perhaps the USA. Nevertheless, Russia and China are almost sure of US is not successful in its Asian policies therefore conduct “preventive attacks” in their near-abroad, just as the USA did in Iraq, 2003. Both countries are considering that its their turn for carrying out “preventive attacks” in Asia. According to this, Moscow and Beijing have taken action to fill the power vacuum caused and will expanded by the failure of Washington in the Asian continent. Today, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Afghanistan-Pakistan, India, Myanmar and other Indian sub-continent countries have become open to military-security-economic interventions by Russia and China.

It would not be reasonable to expect G-7 countries to develop a collective strategy against Russia and China. As an intergovernmental organization, the G-7 platform improves cooperation and coordination among member states but it is far from developing common foreign policy and strategy. For example, it is very difficult to match the interests of Japan in the Asia-Pacific with the interests of Italy in the Mediterranean and England in the Atlantic. Due to such factors, G-7 countries cannot take joint and concrete decisions regarding Russia and China. For example, while Germany is developing cooperation with Russia in the context of the Nord Stream-2 Project, or likewise, while France makes similar demands regarding the purchase of natural gas from Russia; it does not seem possible for these countries to harshly criticize Moscow’s military activities in Ukraine and Crimea. As well, it is quite natural that European countries, especially Italy and Germany, who need investment and financing support for China’s Belt-Road Project, refrain from making harsh criticism of China on human rights and democracy. On the other hand, it is a natural behavior that Japan, the USA and Canada want to send harsh messages to Beijing. Because they are disturbed by the military activities that threaten regional and global security by their neighbors in the Pacific, China.

Despite everything, the G-7 Foreign Ministers Meeting carries clear messages about the future of Asia. The USA still acts with the idea that the West, whose leadership it assumes, determines the world policies and shapes the international system. For this reason, the Washington administration pressures liberal international organizations to develop joint actions against Russia and China who are challenging with the US global leadership. Despite this, other European countries, especially Britain, want to clarify and coordinate their own policies against Russia and China, independent of the global interests of the USA. The decisions taken by the G-7 countries, which are uncertain and lacking a common strategy, show that the USA’s Asian policies are not able to be in full harmony and consistency with the other liberal world countries. In the end, Russia and China have one message here: “The future of Asia cannot be in the hands of the West.”

[1] “G7 Warns China not to ‘Escalate Tensions’ with Taiwan Amid Military Threats”, CNN, https://edition.cnn.com/2021/05/05/china/g7-cornwall-uk-us-china-taiwan-intl-hnk/index.html, (Erişim Tarihi: 07.05.2021).

[2] “G7 Nations Hit out at Russia and China-But Fail to Establish Action Against Them”, Sky News, https://news.sky.com/story/g7-nations-hit-out-at-russia-and-china-but-fail-to-establish-action-against-them-12297798, (Erişim Tarihi: 07.05.2021).

ANKASAM Asya-Pasifik Uzmanı