This year’s G20 Summit will in many ways be one to remember as some of the World’s most powerful leaders who are currently in conflict and war with each other will meet in Indonesia.
The United States and Europa has attempted to convince Indonesia to forbid Russia’s participation in the Summit. While these pressures have not had the expected outcome, Vladimir Putin is keeping an extremely low profile and sends his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergej Lavrov, to attend the G20 Summit. As an effect, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyj, has taken the opportunity to hint his participation in the Summit.
Although the relationship between the United States and China continues to move in a very negative direction, the Summit will be the first time when General Secretary Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden will meet face to face.
Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, has made a dedicated effort to bring three major agendas to the table in Bali, to which global leaders should try to reach agreements. The agendas count “global health”, “transition to sustainable energy” and “digital transformation” with a focus on strengthening the global preparedness towards COVID and kickstarting the green and digital transition in developing countries which has proven extremely difficult.
On a side note and as an environmental Geographer who has experienced the World’s increasing severeness – and the global leader’s continuously denial – of the climate crisis, I feel obliged to ask why it is not part of Widodo’s crucial agendas. This is another story.
Danish newspaper Politiken highlights four potential clashes worth keeping an eye on during this week’s summit.
Joe Biden and Xi Jinping
China reacted with a massive military exercise in the waters around Taiwan upon Nancy Pelosi’s visit in August, as the People’s Republic considers the Island an undividable part of its territory. China maintains its claim of authority over Taiwan and, as of right now, continues its daily military provocations with fighter aircrafts and military ships. Joe Biden has continued former President Donald Trump’s critical politics towards China and has responded to Chinas military provocations with upholding the United States’ promise to defend Taiwan. Bidens has also initiated an export ban of advanced microchips to China which will severely affect China’s economy.
A meeting face-to-face, and a general mean of communication, between the two superpowers is in everybody’s interest and important to World peace. With the upcoming G20 Summit there have been several rumors of the two leaders meeting face-to.face and together try do their best to reach an understanding.
According to online media, Politico, no one expects a breakthrough, although it would be useful if Joe Biden would clearly indicate towards China that the United States’ politics in relation to Taiwan has not changed, and that it will oppose any attempt to change the status of the Island whether it being through military force or a formal Taiwanese declaration of independence. Likewise, it would be positive if Xi Jinping would clearly state towards the United States that China wishes to reunited with Taiwan in a peaceful matter.
Xi Jinping and Anthony Albanese
For the first time in three years, Xi Jinping has met with leaders from Germany, Vietnam, Pakistan and Tanzania in Beijing. Similar meetings are expected to continue to take place at the G20 Summit where, among others, Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has expressed his intentions to meet with Xi.
According to Politiken, it will be interesting to vision how Australia will navigate between China being both an economic possibility and a systemic rival since Australia is, as several European countries, an ally of the United States.
Since the Australian government called for an independent investigation of the corona outbreak in Wuhan, to which China reacted with a ban of import of Australian goods such as steak, coal, wine and grain, the relationship between the two countries has been freezing.
According to Peter Jennings, Senior Fellow of Australian Security Policy think tank Aspi, China and Australia’s Foreign Ministers spoke on the phone last week and this seems to have paved the way for a meeting between the leaders in Indonesia. Jennings further stated that there is a general fear of China attempting to make a deal with the Australian government of soothing the relationship as long as Australia is compliant. This will potentially mean less cooperation with the United States, less critic of Chinese human rights violations and less cooperation with Japan and Taiwan.
– All these things are in Australia’s interest though, so I don’t think Australia will fall for that trick, said Jennings.
Volodomyr Zelenskyj and Sergej Lavrov
If the Ukrainian President attends the Summit, he will be able to appeal to large economies such as China, India, South Africa and Brazil who have otherwise rejected to follow European sanctions against Russia.
Russia’s Foreign Minister will be kept busy at the summit as UK’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has already stated that he will confront Russia regarding the invasion of Ukraine while Peter Jennings expects Xi Jinping to be distancing himself from Putin during the Summit. In February however, Xi declared to be sharing a boundless friendship with Russia.
Will Ukrainian and Russian diplomats be able to communicate confidentially in Indonesia? If so, it will bear a glimpse of hope of resolving the Ukrainian-Russian conflict in the future.
G7 and G20
While Indonesia has attempted to prompt the G20-countries in initiating joint declarations on green energy and combating the global corona epidemic, the G7-countries – the United States, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan have wished to include criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the declarations.
This has been dismissed by the G20-countries with the justification that the G20 Summit is an economic forum and not a mini-edition of FN’s Security Council.
The argument from various Western diplomats is that no other current armed conflict anywhere else in the World, e.g. in Ethiopia, Afghanistan or Yemen are granted the same level of attention at the Summit as the war in Ukraine.
Dennis Snower, President of Global Solutions Initiative, a network of think tanks advising G20-countries, said to Danish Politiken that breakthroughs within the highlighted global agendas, as for instance solutions to a green transition, are blocked by the focus on the Ukrainian war which frustrates non-Western countries.
– Specific countries are sabotaging the global agenda because they cannot reach an agreement on Ukraine. It is extremely grievous as the global health and climate changes are just as important as the war in Ukraine. I am not attempting to downsize the importance of the war, but the agendas should be kept separate, said Snower.