The New Normal/La Nouvelle Normalité/新常態: The G7 Summit vs China-Central Asia Summit: A New Group Confrontation?

Severus Xisheng Wang 王希聖
G7 summit, Hiroshima, Japan, 19-21 May 2023 via Council of the European Union

The Group of Seven (G7) summit came to an end in Hiroshima, Japan. The lightning appearance of Ukrainian President Zelensky drew global attention to the G7’s determination to unite in support of Ukraine against Russia; the invitation extended to eight countries — India, Indonesia, the Cook Islands, Morocco, Brazil, Vietnam, Australia, and South Korea — to convene an expanded meeting seemed to demonstrate the G7’s international mobilisation.

President Zelensky had met with leaders from the UK, India, France, Canada, and the US. In addition, Zelensky met with G7 leaders and expressed his hope that they would increase military aid to Ukraine. For the first time, the US approved the dispatch of F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv. This was a major victory for Zelensky, as he had been lobbying for months for advanced fighter jets, and the F-16 is now the leading fighter jet in the military field. The expanded meeting was designed to allow the countries of the Global South to support the G7 position on the Russo-Ukrainian war and present a united international front; however, India, Brazil, Indonesia, etc., did not change their stance just because they attended the G7 summit.

Another focus of the G7 summit was China. On Saturday, the seven leaders issued a joint document entitled “Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament,” which called out China’s lack of transparency in its nuclear weapons development and expressed concern about peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and human rights issues in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The Joint Statement also stressed the need for member states to resist economic coercion from China. US President Joe Biden said at a press conference that member states had reached a consensus on China: G7 countries must develop the capacity to withstand economic coercion, and there is a need to limit certain advanced technologies that could threaten national security without unduly restricting trade and investment. The statement immediately sparked strong protests in Beijing. The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded that “the G7 ignored China’s serious concerns and persisted in manipulating China-related issues, searing and attacking China, and violently interfering with China’s internal affairs,” and that the international community would not accept the G7 Summit statement.

China-Central Asia Summit via Independent

Against the backdrop of the negative portrayal of Beijing as a “threat” at the G7 Summit, the first China-Central Asia Summit, which opened on May 18, is part of a regional integration process aimed at preserving a region. The leaders of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan pledged to support Beijing and deepen bilateral relations, with the Chinese media hailing the summit as a triumph of Chinese regional diplomacy. The China-Central Asia Summit offers Beijing a chance to showcase its “deep friendship” with Central Asia as China seeks to expand its international influence amid the protracted Russo-Ukrainian war, intensifying competition between the US and China, and the West’ estrangement from China.

However, Western geo-political strategists have long considered China’s diplomatic behaviour in Central Asia to be contested by the great powers of Eurasia. Many Western commentators still view the Summit through the lens of the great powers competing for a sphere of influence during the Cold War era, seeing it as China’s success in “fighting for Russia’s backyard.” This is a wrong perception and should be interpreted the other way around. The Summit reflects that China and Russia have reached a high level of political mutual trust and have reached a consensus on stabilising the Central Asian region.

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The New Normal/La Nouvell…

by Severus Xisheng Wang 王希聖 time to read: 2 min