People rally in a protest against the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima, Japan, May 21, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]
Over the last weekend, the G7 Summit was held in Hiroshima, chaired by the host nation Japan. The Group of Seven has long framed itself as an elite forum consisting of the world's most "prominent" economies, which they then frequently use to try and set a global agenda on behalf of everyone else, specifically under the leadership and direction of the United States.
Unsurprisingly, this summit was overwhelmingly focused on pushing an "anti-China" agenda, particularly in line with American foreign policy preferences. The extensive communique published at the end of the event hypocritically focused on "economic coercion" while also advocating the term "de-risking," which is essentially a diet coke version of the term decoupling, claiming to reduce "excessive dependencies" and re-align supply chains and support technology embargos. The statement went on to claim that the nations do not oppose China's economic rise and development, but actions ultimately speak louder than words.
However, there are many problems with the format and purpose of the G7.
First of all, the nature of the group is exclusively ideological and elitist in nature, as opposed to reflecting economic realities. The G7 economies no longer together represent the majority of the world's GDP, and this proportion is shrinking year on year. Rather, the group, which was founded in the Cold War era, is designed to enshrine the hegemony of the U.S. and its so-called rules-based order that is dictating their preferences to other countries.
Second, favoring the elitism and closed nature of the G7, the United States and its closest followers have done their best to sabotage, obsolete and undermine the larger and more representative G20, which includes countries such as China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa. By attempting to hold the group hostage to its geopolitical goals and demands, the U.S. has successfully paralyzed the G20 as a functional body and beset it with ideological division, while doubling down on the G7 as a body that attempts to dictate unopposed to the rest of the world.
Notably, this time around, Japan attempted to frame the summit as "reaching out" to the Global South by inviting the leaders of India, Indonesia and Brazil to the sidelines of the meeting, allowing them to be engaged but not set the agenda. However, the reality is that the G7 bloc is a colossal threat to the interests of the Global South as it seeks to make their economic development conditional to the preferences, terms and conditions set by the U.S., which creates a stumbling block by mandating geopolitical subservience.
As such, this gesture is meaningless, and more so when it is considered that the G7 has made many empty promises to the Global South nations regarding development assistance and infrastructure funding. Take for example the G7 Summit in 2021, where nations pledged a new formula called "Build Back Better." This was never heard of again. The following year, they then promised a collective $600 billion in funding via the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. Again, such proposals have effectively come to nothing. They are useful as a public relations stunt on a statement, but then falter when it comes to actually turning them into reality.
Which brings us to the next point. The G7 Summit is effectively a talking shop, a false display of unity and pretentiousness that conceals the true differences and difficulties of its participants. Despite boasting of their economic strength, all of the group's member countries are facing poor economic performance in 2023, beset by inflation, high interest rates and stagnant GDP growth. For countries such as the United Kingdom, their economic prospects are extremely bleak, which makes it counterproductive, if not bizarre, to brand China in such "threatening" terms.
This brings us back to the first point, that the G7 is neither as representative nor as dominant as it once was. The global order is shifting in favor of multipolarity, which effectively makes such U.S. led mini-cliques anachronisms in attempting to depict the world "how they want it to be" rather than "how it actually is."
Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities.