【Repositioning the G-8】 the G spot

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 感恩亲情 点击:

  Following the recent high-level Group of Eight (G-8) summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ruan Zongze, Vice Director of the China Institute of International Studies, commented on China"s relations with the G-8 in an article in People’s Daily. He argued that China is unlikely to join this exclusive club of industrialized nations in the short term, but may establish closer contacts with it. In an earlier article, he analyzed the background against which the summit was held, contending that the G-8 has begun to adjust its functions and is seeking to reposition itself. His main ideas follow:
  
  China and the G-8
  
  Chinese President Hu Jintao visited St. Petersburg for the meeting between developing countries and the G-8 developed countries on the sidelines of the group’s annual summit on July 17. This is the third handshake between China and the G-8. How should China get along with the group? How about their future relations?
  During the 1990s, the original Group of Seven began to pay attention to China’s growing economic strength and its global role. Particularly, the country won international praise for its behavior in the 1997 Asian financial crisis. After that, the group more than once extended an olive branch to China.
  In 1999, then German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, as leader of the host country, warmly invited China to attend, and even said openly that the club should draw China in. When the summit was held in Okinawa in 2000, Japan also invited China to join the dialogue with the group’s leaders, while on the eve of the 2002 meeting, the group sent a message via various channels asking China to attend as a non-voting delegate.
  The first handshake between China and the G-8 came at the Evian conference in France in June 2003. President Hu attended, opening close contact between China and the club. This marked a diplomatic breakthrough in relations between the two sides. Last year, China attended a similar dialogue meeting in Britain.
  The G-8 has drawn increasing criticism in recent years, its authority declining due to a lack of representation in global governance. At the same time a large number of developing powers emerged rapidly, with rising positions in and influence over the world economy. The G-8 has become aware that effective discussions on the world economy and development must involve a dialogue with these developing countries. To extricate itself from a difficult position, the group began to change its functions and strengthen external contacts. Expanded dialogues with developing nations have become a characteristic of G-8 summits.
  Judging from current conditions, it is in line with Chinese interests to keep a convenient distance from the G-8. It is quite unlikely that China will join the group in the short term. China is a developing country, for which the G-8, as a club of the rich, has apparently not reserved a comfortable seat. Moreover, the G-8 has its own set of political and economic standards, which China finds unacceptable at least for the present time.   Russia, for example, does not mix well with the group. It joined the club in 1998 out of political need, but was reduced to a second-class citizen, and has had little say on economic questions. So, Russia is eager to establish itself as an equal member of the group by taking the opportunity as the host.
  From a long-term perspective, closer contacts between China and the G-8 are possible, which would give China a bigger say in the world economy. China also would be more able to express concerns on behalf of developing countries, and increase the representation of the G-8. China should follow a natural and comfortable path in developing its ties with the G-8.
  
  Changing functions
  
  DEVELOPING TOGETHER: Chinese President Hu Jintao (l-4) meets with leaders of five other developing countries: (from left) the Republic of Congo, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, on the sidelines of the G-8 summit
  Russia was the host of a G-8 summit for the first time since joining the group. The G-8 also held dialogues with developing countries, reflecting the G-8’s desire to reposition itself under new historic conditions.
  The summit was held against the background that member countries are facing various difficulties. The United States is stuck in Iraq and President George W. Bush’s support fell to an all-time low of 30 percent. The good old days for the U.S. neo-conservative wing have passed, and so the United States is willing to improve its relations with the European Union (EU). On June 21-22, Bush visited Austria, attending a summit between the United States and the EU in Vienna, indicating the start of efforts to improve bilateral relations.
  The EU is still in the wound-healing period, and has not yet walked out of the shadow of the veto of the EU Constitution. The big powers in Europe have also encountered difficulties. British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s political life will soon come to an end. With the new chancellor in Germany, Angela Merkel, the government is experiencing readjustments in both domestic and foreign policies.
  For Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who is leaving office later this year, the meeting was a farewell.
  Meanwhile, high oil prices will seriously affect the world economy, and the Doha round of trade talks is deadlocked. The Iraqi situation is worrisome and the Afghan situation is still in turmoil. As the Iranian nuclear crisis continues, North Korea test fired its missiles. The changing factors in Northeast Asia are increasing, and terrorist activities still happen from time to time. Thus, the summit was held under such a complicated and quickly changing situation.
  Another noteworthy tendency is that relations between Russia, the EU and the United States recently have had more twists and turns. Before the summit, the United States and the EU both criticized Russia and questioned its status as a “presidential” state, in which more power seems to be accruing to the president.
  President Vladimir Putin chatted with netizens around the world to get better acquainted with the people. In fact, in Russia, people still haven’t completely shrugged off the feeling of being “second-class citizens” in the G-8, and hoped this chance to play host could make the country a real member.   But the Western countries haven’t completely recognized Russia and it is a difficult process to meld into this powerful club. In May, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney criticized Russia. On June 25, a British think tank issued a report saying Russia has not yet reached the club’s standard either in politics or the economy, and Russia’s status as a presidential state would harm the credibility of the group.
  Western countries also worry that Russia, a major oil exporter, will wield the “energy weapon” to improve its status in dealing with the West. The United States and the EU are coordinating a bit in jointly dealing with Russia. However, Russia has been very active in its diplomacy. For example, it invited Hamas, the militant group that heads the Palestinian Government, to visit Moscow. Meanwhile, it kept a distance from the West on the Iranian nuclear issue and had frictions over energy, the economy and trade with the West.
  This year’s G-8 summit also addressed the world economic situation. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has written to G-8 leaders calling on them to take measures to promote world trade liberalization, global energy security and the Doha round of trade talks. Energy security was an important topic during the summit. Energy cooperation has become an important factor that influences the development of the international situation. The summit also explored the issue of strengthening strategic cooperation in energy, including a guarantee for global energy supply, consumption and security across borders. In addition, antiterrorism, prevention of epidemics and development assistance were discussed.
  In recent years, the G-8 has received more and more criticism from around the world. On one hand, the group has tried to monopolize international affairs, and its agenda has expanded from discussing the world economy to politics and security. On the other hand, its representation in global governance is not sufficient, so its authoritativeness is decreasing.
  In order to resolve these issues, the G-8 countries began to readjust the group’s functions and started to consolidate its foreign relations. One of the key points is to expand talks with developing countries. Since the late 1990s, the G-8 has strengthened its dialogue with developing countries. In recent years, during the summit, there has been a special conference site for dialogues between the G-8 and developing countries. Such a mechanism aims to improve the G-8’s authoritativeness and representation in dealing with global economic, political and non-traditional security areas.

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