India will host a summit of the group of 20 major economies (G20) this weekend, in which US President Joe Biden will try to take advantage of the absence of the leaders of China and Russia to foster alliances in a strongly divided bloc.
Latin America will be represented by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose country will assume the bloc’s presidency in December, and Argentine Alberto Fernández.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will not attend, and Spanish media indicated that the head of the government of that country, Pedro Sánchez, would participate as a guest of the group.
Strong disagreements over Russia’s war in Ukraine, phasing out fossil fuels and debt restructuring will dominate the talks and could complicate agreements at the two-day meeting in New Delhi.
Biden will discuss “a range of joint efforts to address global issues,” such as climate change and “mitigating the economic and social impacts of the Russian war in Ukraine,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.
The presidents of China, Xi Jinping, and Russia, Vladimir Putin, last March in Moscow. They will not go to the G20 summit in India. Photo: AP
Chinese President Xi Jinping will be one of the major absences from the event, at a time of growing trade and geopolitical tensions with the United States and India, with which China shares a long and conflictive border.
Beijing is also upset by India’s participation in the so-called Quad, a security alliance with Australia, Japan and the United States that China sees as a counterbalance to its influence in Asia.
China did not give an explanation for Xi’s absence at the summit on September 9 and 10, and limited itself to saying that Prime Minister Li Qiang would represent it at the meeting of the large economies, which account for 85% of world GDP.
Xi’s absence will impact Washington’s efforts to maintain the G20 as the main forum for global economic cooperation.
“Without China on board … some issues may not see the light or reach any logical conclusion,” said Happymon Jacob, a professor of politics at India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Disagreements over war
The war in Ukraine will also weigh on the meeting, despite the absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will be represented by his Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.
“As long as Russia does not end this war, things cannot go on as usual,” said German government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner.
The global crises facing the bloc are “much more difficult, more complicated, more worrisome than they have been for a long time,” Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar told NDTV television.
India, which has just strengthened its position as a space power by landing a spacecraft on the Moon in August, has said that hosting the G20 makes it an important global player.
A poster for the G20 summit bearing the image of India’s Prime Minister Narednra Modi in New Delhi. Photo: AFP
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has portrayed his country as a leader of the “Global South”, a bridge between industrialized and developing countries, and has sought to expand the group into a “G21” with the inclusion of the African Union.
Modi intends to use the G20 to build consensus among countries to reform multilateral institutions, such as the UN, to give large developing countries such as India, Brazil and South Africa more of a voice.
“India’s emergence as the world’s fastest growing economy and its inclusive approach is positive for the Global South,” said Sujan Chinoy, a former Indian diplomat and head of the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis.
Modi’s efforts to urge G20 rulers to overcome their divisions to address critical global issues have been unsuccessful in pre-summit ministerial appointments, including debt restructuring attempts and post-implementation commodity price shocks. Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A meeting of G20 energy ministers in July failed to define a roadmap for phasing out fossil fuels and did not even mention coal, a key pollutant for the economies of China and India.
With record temperatures and deadly heat waves sweeping the world, climate activists have warned of dire consequences, especially for developing countries, if the G20 fails to reach a consensus in New Delhi.
India and China are among the world’s biggest polluters, but argue that the West’s historical input places greater responsibility on it for the current climate crisis.
Countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia are also preventing any climate consensus at the G20, fearing that the switch from fossil fuels will hit their economies.
By Bhuvan Bagga, agency AFP