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《威尼斯官网》:信强: G7 expansion more symbolic than substantive
  发布时间: 2020-08-16   访问次数: 38

U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday expressed his intention to delay the  annual Group of 7 (G7) summit until September. He had planned to invite Russia,  South Korea, Australia and India to join the talks. It is reported Trump also  spoke to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday about Brazil's  participation in the meeting. 

Trump claims the G7 is very outdated,  failing to reflect the present international situation. His comment about this  group is not irrational. The seven countries were among the most advanced  economies when the group was established. The G7 played a significant role in  shaping pivotal decisions about the global economy and politics.  

However, the influence of this group today cannot be mentioned in the  same breath. With the rise of emerging economies represented by China,  structural changes have occurred in the global economic landscape. China has  become the world's second largest economy since 2010. And its economic influence  is larger than any member of G7, except for the US. Other emerging countries,  such as India, Brazil and Russia, have developed into forces to be reckoned with  too. 

Based on Trump's prior moves, if he thinks certain organization or  pact goes against or cannot satisfy the interests of his administration, he  would terminate the US' relationship with them. This includes the WHO, the Paris  Agreement, and the Iran nuclear deal, etc. 

Trump didn't quit the G7  because a withdrawal will make the US lose support from the six other powerful members, which he needs for his agenda to deter and contain China, especially  after China's successful economic recovery from the pandemic. Therefore, Trump  has to maintain US participation in the organization. 

However, Trump is  aware of the fact that US' influence and capability in leading the other six  members are declining due to his unilateral moves - which have ultimately  impaired them. 

For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week  rebuffed Trump's invitation to attend a face to face G7 summit proposed for  June. According to the New York Times, a senior German official revealed that  Merkel didn't accept the invitation because she believed that proper diplomatic  preparations had not been made; she didn't want to be part of an anti-China  display; and she didn't want to be seen as interfering in American domestic  politics. 

Besides, France and Italy might have no interests in  participating in it either. They may predict that Trump would use the G7 summit  to urge other six countries to make compromises on some issues, including attempts to make joint effort to contain China, which may damage their  interests. 

Against this backdrop, the Trump-proposed idea to expand the G7 to a large extent is out of his own political calculation. It is highly  doubtful whether the countries he invited are interested in participating in the meeting. It is likely that Moscow will not join the summit due to escalating  tensions with Washington. 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to  join the summit. Moon's decision is rational as it provides Seoul an opportunity  to join the ranks of major powers. Yet, South Korea does not have great global  influence in terms of economics, diplomacy or politics. It does not make much  sense whether it joins the summit. Australia is caught with a similar situation  as South Korea. 

India has its own considerations. It is exploiting the  US to realize it own strategic objectives, and will refuse to be absolutely  obedient to the US.
As another right-wing populist, Brazil's Bolsonaro  may be willing to follow Washington's lead. Yet in spite of having evident  influence in Latin America, Brazil has experienced a grave economic crisis since  mid-2014. Currently, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazil reached  over 526,000 as of Tuesday afternoon. This is only second to the US. In this  context, Brazil can hardly devote spare efforts to attend the forum.  

From the perspective of Trump, his proposal to expand the G7 is also a  political show. He wants to display to the world and US electorate that he is a  remarkable global influencer - and that the US remains the world's leader.  

Regardless whether the forum reaches members to make it G11 or G12,  without the participation of China, the world's second largest economy, largest  trading country, largest manufacturer and the largest emerging market, the  summit won't achieve substantial outcomes. 

White House spokesperson  Alyssa Farah said Trump hopes the meeting can discuss China. It reveals Trump's  intent to expand the G7 - attracting more allies and partners in an attempt to  contain China.

Will other countries align with the US? Russia will  certainly not. South Korea, France, Germany and Italy are expected not to. Japan  and Australia may join the US to criticize or condemn China, but substantial actions against China from the two countries may not materialize. None of these  countries have the determination or the will to attack China, as the US wants.  They have to weigh the pros and cons of whether to totally lean with the US to  contain China. 

No matter if G7 becomes the G11 or G12, this will largely  be symbolic but ineffective. 


The author is Deputy Director of the Center  for American Studies at Fudan University. 


Source: Global Times


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