G7 is losing influence due to tensions with China
The leaders of the G7 countries sent clear messages at the end of the summit in Hiroshima on Sunday. They call on China to stop its ” interference activities and claims they will support Ukraine at all costs against Russia “as long as it takes”. However, the scope of their resolutions remains limited and their influence is weakened in favor of new powers.
“It’s obvious: the G7 is losing its feathers,” says Charles-Philippe David, professor of political science and founder of the Raoul-Dandurand Chair at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). “The GDP of the G7 countries is in sharp decline, and the group as an institution is becoming less and less influential” from a geopolitical point of view, he says.
Roromme Chantal, a professor at the Université de Moncton who specializes in international relations, explains that new players are taking advantage of this loss of influence: “In 10 years, there will be only one Western economic power among the five largest in the world: The United States The other four will be in Asia: Japan (member of the G7), but also China, India and South Korea”.
This is one of the reasons why the G7 invited India, Brazil and Indonesia as summit observers. Justin Trudeau there he also met the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and the Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Their two countries are part of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), a group whose influence is becoming comparable to that of the G7, according to Mr. Chantal.
Which place for Canada?
The latter adds that the G7 has become “anachronistic” since “its declarations no longer have the significance of the past and they no longer concern China”. David agrees: “These summits do not lead to concrete results. The G7 is more like a thermometer that allows us to measure the geopolitical climate”.
So what does the thermometer tell us about Canada’s importance in the world? Mr. David believes that under Justin Trudeau the country is “losing momentum” and we could see that this weekend.
The professor recalls Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s efforts to convince the great powers to reduce their nuclear arsenals during the Cold War, or Brian Mulroney’s convincing his colleagues to sanction South Africa in response to apartheid. “Justin Trudeau could take inspiration from his father and take the lead on the issue of armaments, which is gaining momentum at the moment, but that is not his style. he says.
On Tuesday, Angus Reid unveiled the Institute an investigation that almost half of Canadians feel that Canada’s international reputation is in decline. The approval rating for Canadian foreign policy is also at its lowest since the start of the Trudeau government, falling from 79% in 2016 to 51% in 2023, according to the same poll.
Mr. Trudeau nevertheless forced certain questions during the summit. He especially has that criticized the Italian far-right leaderGiorgia Meloni, for her views on LGBTQ+ people and a convinced the other member countries of the group to form a united front against Chinese interference, in a statement released Saturday.
China, the elephant in the room
Political interference, military exercises in Taiwan, trade with Russia… Several issues have also been criticized for Xi Jinping’s China on the sidelines of the summit, although the members of the G7 have reiterated their desire to continue their economic cooperation with the country. most populous on the planet.
“It’s a balancing act,” says Patrick Leblond, a University of Ottawa professor specializing in international economic relations. “On the one hand, we want to reduce dependence on [et l’influence de] China, especially in the technology sector. But Xi Jinping’s government can also exhibit aggressive and unpredictable behavior. We therefore want to reduce the risk of military conflicts at all costs”.
During a press briefing at the end of the summit on Sunday, Justin Trudeau nevertheless declared that it was necessary “to continue to protect ourselves from authoritarian countries that use their economic power to put unfair pressure on the others”.
Recall that the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded last week that China itself was a victim of economic coercion from the West. Mr. Chantal rightly points out that “it was the US that practically invented economic coercion” and that “calls from the West, for the Global South, to unite to counter China’s growing influence could be seen as hypocritical”.
Zelensky monopolizes attention
The G7 countries also addressed the issue of climate change and humanitarian aid to “poor or developing countries,” which Mr. Trudeau recalled, highlighting the group’s pledge to provide $600 billion in aid for infrastructure projects by 2027.
However, one person monopolized the media attention and overshadowed the other files. It is, of course, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, who went there. He was offered more military aid on Saturday, particularly from the United States. Joe Biden promised more artillery, ammunition and armored vehicles worth $375 million. But the Brazilian president maintained that he would not send arms to Ukraine, although he said he wanted a ceasefire.
Charles-Philippe David maintains that “the most important recent aid measure” remains the US promise tosend F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine – something he has been reluctant to do for a long time.
“Only a military victory can change the course of things,” he said. Financial sanctions such as those notified [vendredi] will not be enough to make Putin bend because Russia still has large monetary reserves and continues to sell its oil”. It’s even just that one war in ukraine prompting Mr David to say the G7 “remains significant”. “In this issue, they really make all the difference.”
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