It is evident that G7 summit hasn’t changed with the times

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will be attending the G7 summit for the first time.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will be attending the G7 summit for the first time.

Published May 19, 2023


Cape Town - As one who watches international news and developments closely, it would be interesting to see what South Africa will be missing out on in the upcoming G7 summit.

If the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting is anything to go by, South Africa will not be missing much. Maybe the odd photo opportunity.

The G7 summit is scheduled for May 19 to 21 in the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

It will be the first G7 summit for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Leaders of the US, Canada, France and Germany will also be present.

Russia was expelled from the group, then the G8, in 2014.

In 2019, the US-based Council on Foreign Relations opened its article, “Trump Kills the G7’s Legitimacy”, with the words: “The Group of Seven (G7) has long been on life support.”

The article went on to point out that “as emerging powers such as China and India have come to represent a larger fraction of world economic output, the group has proved less useful in its function as a steering committee for the global economy”.

Recently, much has been said about South Africa being snubbed as the African representative, and the chairperson of the AU, Azali Assoumani, the president of the Comoros, being invited to the summit instead.

Especially under the leadership of then president Thabo Mbeki, our country was invited to the G8 and G7 summits.

In fact, part of my research suggests that the beginnings of BRICS started at the summit’s pre-2006 days.

In preparation for the upcoming summit, foreign ministers of the G7 countries met from April 16 to 19.

The outcomes of the meeting and the preparations for the summit were underwhelming.

While one can understand the group’s historic anti-Russian stances Japan’s insistence for the summit to take an anti-Chinese slant further illustrates how outdated the group is.

No doubt, Tokyo would have found allies in Washington and Ottawa, but the attempts to smear China maliciously fly in the face of recent developments in “Xiplomacy” and, in particular, the fast-growing bonds between China and Europe.

Only a week before the foreign ministers met, French President Emmanuel Macron was hosted in Beijing by President Xi Jinping, and the bonds between the French and Chinese were strengthened.

A few days before the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visited China and tightened the bond between Berlin and Beijing; towards the end of last month, British foreign secretary James Cleverly warned that a cold war with China would betray Britain’s national interests.

Just this week, reports came in that trade between Italy and China had risen by a whopping 131% in February this year. Italy is the only G7 member that has joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative, despite strong rebukes from other members in the group.

The G7 foreign ministers’ statement criticising several Chinese policies, particularly when these simply seek to protect Chinese territory in the East China Sea, South China Sea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet and the domestic investment environment, is an indication of Japan, supported by the US and Canada, overplaying its hand.

South Africa and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration can take warm comfort in the words of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, in responding to some of the questions on the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting.

“We once again urge G7,” said Wang, “to reflect on their own problems and discard the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices. They should stop running counter to the prevailing trend of today’s world, stop pointing fingers condescendingly, stop grossly interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, and stop deliberately creating antagonism and division in the international community.”

Seale has a PhD in international relations

Cape Times

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