Pacific Dialogue
Fight or flight?
By Liang Xiao  ·  2022-07-04  ·   Source: NO.27 JULY 7, 2022
Local gas prices in Arlington, Virginia, the U.S., on March 31. U.S. President Joe Biden announced plans to release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve over the next six months (XINHUA)

One well-known Chinese folktale goes as follows: A very rich man once saw a group of beggars dressed in rags on their way home. He felt sorry for them and vowed he would never see anyone suffer from poverty again. The next day, his wish came true as the man's servants rounded up all poor people in the vicinity and drove them hundred of miles away. Circling back to our modern-day reality, it seems the world's seven largest developed economies are following in the rich man's footsteps: escaping reality instead of solving the very real problems at hand.

From June 26 to 28, the 2022 Group of Seven (G7) Summit took place at Elmau Castle in Bavaria, Germany. In the lead up to the gathering, many political experts and analysts had already expressed how the G7 could potentially be facing the most complicated situation in nearly 20 years. Economically, with the exception of Japan, six countries have descended into a serious inflationary predicament. In May alone, inflation surged 9.1 percent in the UK, 8.6 percent in the U.S., 7.9 percent in Germany, 7.7 percent in Canada, 6.9 percent in Italy and 5.2 percent in France. The ban on Russian oil exports, to certain extent, has indeed exacerbated already soaring international energy prices.

In addition to world peace and economic recovery, the international community needs to manage issues such as food crises, climate change and healthcare coverage; solving these problems is an even more pressing matter for developing countries.

With the rotating presidency currently in German hands, the country had invited a small number of developing countries, including India, Senegal, Indonesia and Argentina, to attend the summit.

But to exclude most developing countries, especially Russia and China, from the global governance system is unwise. Thirty years ago, the G7 countries accounted for nearly 70 percent of the global economy. Today, that figure has fallen to 43 percent; their share of the world's population is less than 10 percent. The voices of developing countries need to be heard, and their demands deserve attention.

Just three days before the G7 summit, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa attended the 14th BRICS Summit in virtual format, discussing world economic recovery, global governance, agricultural security, climate change, vaccine cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. They reached many important consensuses on issues of common concern.

Though the BRICS mechanism doesn't seem to be able to make a significant change to the U.S.-led existing global system at this point, as one of the most important platforms for South-South cooperation, its positive impact should not be ignored. Some Western media have argued that the BRICS summit did not reach an agreement on the issue of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but, in fact, the goal of convening an international conference should not be to ask countries to choose sides, but to jointly seek solutions to common challenges.

Neither the G7 nor BRICS countries, developed or developing nations, can tackle the current global crisis alone. That is why the world is looking forward to the upcoming Group of 20 meeting in November which provides a platform for communication and negotiation among the world's major players, including both developed and emerging countries.

Faced with changes unseen in a century, now is the time for unity. All countries, big and small, should join hands to meet the challenges of our time and emerge stronger from the pandemic and economic recession.

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon

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