Paths to global prosperity

May 26, 2023
Flags of G7 countries print screen on pawn chess with black background.

Two major international conferences concluded in the past week. They demonstrated very different approaches to international relations. The China-Central Asia Summit considered new paths to genuine economic co-operation and development. The G7 reaffirmed its support for the status quo in the face of a changing global environment. 

It is useful to compare the two approaches because one belongs to the past and the other provides an alternative that is particularly attractive to the Global South. To a large extent, the Global South consists of countries once-colonised and exploited by the European powers who now come together as the G7.

Domestically in some of the G7 countries there is a growing social awareness of the bitter aspects of the wealth built on the back of slavery and exploitation. However, at the political level the G7 meeting showed that this closet imperialism still sets the agenda. This is not an attractive enticement for the Global South.

The proceedings and outcomes of the China-Central Asia Summit did not treat any other countries as adversaries. “For its part, China will support Central Asian countries’ efforts in safeguarding regional security, fighting terrorism and promoting cybersecurity”, Xi said.

In contrast, the G7 agenda and communique were based on the adversarial foundations necessary to maintain the current status quo. G7 leaders issued a strong statement, saying “We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.” At the same time, the G7 continues to exclude China from discussions about these issues.

A key focus of this year’s G-7 meetings was to strengthen ties with countries in the Global South, many of which have economic ties with China and Russia and have taken a nonaligned stance over the situation in Ukraine. For the G7, co-operation means uniting to block other countries by painting them as adversaries.

The China-Central Asia Summit forum explored ways to support economic and social development through co-operation and without imposing ideological constraints on the systems of Government amongst the group.

‘We will respect each other’s development paths chosen according to their national conditions and resolutely oppose interference in internal affairs by any force made under any pretext,’ President Xi Jinping said.

The contrast with the G7 agenda could not be more stark. In this meeting the discussion was around ways to prevent China from developing a range of technologies and advances that would deliver increased prosperity. The final G7 communique sought to counter accusations that the G7 was seeking to prevent China’s rise as a global power but the agenda and discussions made it clear that China’s rise was the main concern.

In their statement, G7 leaders said cooperation with China is needed given its global role and economic size but they did not call for China’s permanent inclusion in G7 meetings.

It was clear they believed that challenges such as climate change, biodiversity, debts and financing needs of vulnerable countries, global health concerns and economic stability could only be resolved on terms dictated by the G7. Many of these terms are designed to ensure the United States’ supremacy.

The G7 communique was not about joining together to lift all towards prosperity. There were some crumbs from the table spread in the direction of the Global South but there was no genuine commitment to allow any development which might threaten the hegemony of the West.

Statements made elsewhere in US congressional hearings make no attempt to cover America’s desire to be an unchallenged global leader, even if this meant preventing development from China and others.

The G7’s tool of choice in this economic warfare is the indiscriminate use of sanctions. Sanctions are a favourite weapon deployed by the United States. It’s a weapon that causes mass economic destruction where the impact falls most heavily on the civilian population. They are the economic equivalent of carpet bombing, where American B52’s laid indiscriminate waste to hundreds of hectares of country-side in North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

The potential continued use of sanctions as a weapon is a major concern for the Global South who worry about the collateral damage inflicted on their economies, and the way this hinders their progress towards prosperity.

There is no such threat of punitive action in the China-Central Asia Summit discussions. Instead the Summit provides a genuine unfettered arc of co-operation with its members. It also provides a model of genuine co-operation for the Global South. It specified no single path for development and prosperity. It specifies no political ideology or adherence to a hegemonic alliance.

The G7 failed to provide an enhanced model of global leadership and simply endorsed the existing status-quo with all its historical imbalance. The China-Central Asia Summit showed that better cooperative alternatives do exist for global development.

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