Deeply divided, is the G20 still useful?

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Deeply divided, the Is G20 still useful?

Within the G20, the gap is widening between the Western powers and the authoritarian regimes.

The G20 summit takes place in Indonesia.

Justin Trudeau has landed in Bali, Indonesia for a tense G20 family reunion. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the rivalry with China oppose two blocs between which a dialogue seems impossible.

In 2022, what is the use of the G20? Interview with Nadège Rolland, researcher on political and security issues in Asia-Pacific at the National Bureau of Asian Research, in Washington.

G20 leaders at a summit in Rome, Italy in 2021.

There are two major events that aggravated this fracture. The first is the pandemic, which made Western countries realize that many of their production lines were in the hands of China.

Beijing was not very open to the idea of ​​sharing its basic necessities, such as masks and protective equipment, with the rest of the world when it was itself in the grip of this crisis. This raised awareness of a somewhat dangerous addiction. Production chains are not necessarily international. They can be in the hands of an authoritarian country and have an impact on the security of our countries.

The Group of 20 brings together the world's major economies. The G20 represents every inhabited continent, 80% of global GDP, 75% of international trade, and 60% of the world's population.

Source < em>: Government of Canada

The second event is Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions pit a “Western side” against Russia. Moscow continues to draw closer to China, another authoritarian country. It is a solidarity of authoritarians versus a solidarity of democracies.

We face problems that have no borders, that are not simply within our control. national security but also our collective security. We think of the pandemic and climate change, for example. We need means of communication with China to talk about these international problems.

Better protecting ourselves in strategic sectors and maintaining communication channels to discuss these transnational problems are not contradictory objectives. We can very well do both.

Russian President Vladimir Putin received the first Friendship Medal from the hands of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

It calls a lot of things into question. It takes imagination, effort and sacrifice. Most governments are now faced with this choice: should security take precedence over comfort? This is what we see in Europe today with Russia. Europeans are being asked to make sacrifices and efforts with regard to their energy supplies because politics and security take precedence.

We may consider ourselves a little caught in the vice of the rivalry between the United States and China. For Canada and the other middle powers in the world, the question is whether we can offer a third way and avoid this logic of “blocks”. Are we increasingly aligning with like-minded [like-minded] countries rather than engaging in dialogue with authoritarian and aggressive countries ?

The more players in the region that continue to invest in [Asia-Pacific], the less China is able to establish hegemony. Canada, in trying to rethink its strategy for the Indo-Pacific, is trying to position itself as a balancing power to counterbalance the Chinese monopoly in the region.

< p class="styled__StyledLegend-sc-v64krj-0 cfqhYM">G20 foreign ministers met in July in preparation for the November 2022 summit.

In the Indo-Pacific, a number of small groups have been seen form. There is the Quad (Australia, United States, Japan, India). There is also [the military alliance] AUKUS (United States, Great Britain, Australia) which was created last year.

The G20 and APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum) groupings continue to survive because they are a historical legacy. We continue to go there without great illusions about their contribution because of blockages and irreconcilable positions.

At the same time, we are seeing the emergence of a certain number of initiatives more local. Faced with this Chinese behemoth, we have to get organized. Even the United States recognizes that it cannot be alone in confronting China's rise.

The United States has banned the sale of microprocessors to China: this is a strategic sector. Will others appear, such as the pharmaceutical sector or the biotechnology sector? Is it a good thing to have almost total dependence on China? This is a question that many Western democracies are beginning to ask despite all the challenges of “unraveling” these decades-old relationships.

Protesters in Hong Kong have called on G20 countries to confront China over weakened freedoms in that country during a a demonstration in 2019.

We realize the danger posed by these authoritarian regimes in a system very different from that of the 1950s with the Soviet Union.

China and Russia are much more integrated into the global economy and have much more powerful leverage to pressure our decisions. This compromises our room to manoeuvre.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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