The annual G7 summit ended with the usual collective statements of unity. The world’s seven most powerful industrialised democracies this time focused on continuing their support for Ukraine in its war with Russia and countering the perceived threat from China.
Hosts Japan had hoped the summit would focus additionally on increasing support from developed economics for the ‘global south,’ as well as pushing further action towards nuclear disarmament – hence their holding the gathering at Hiroshima.
But Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s agenda was sidelined somewhat by his western allies’ emphasis on Ukraine and China.
The conflict in eastern Europe was highlighted by the invitation extended to Volodymyr Zelensky. The Ukrainian President used the platform to press his case for support, not only to his allies, but also to the non-G7 ‘global south’ states like India, invited by Japan.
Yet though Zelensky was the star of photo-ops, it was the confrontation with China that dominated proceedings. The final communique was highly critical of China’s use of ‘economic coercion’, while it urged a peaceful resolution to Beijing’s dispute with Taiwan.
Most significantly, it called for a ‘de-risking’ of the G7 nations’ trade relations with Beijing, shorthand for divesting from sensitive elements of China’s economy.
However, the statements come alongside now familiar questions about the G7’s relevance. Originally established as an informal Cold War-era gathering, it has now morphed into a calendar fixture, but without a clear purpose.
While some leaders insist it remains a valuable forum for Western democracies to devise common strategies for shared problems, its critics contend that it is a relic from a bygone era that rarely produces lasting shifts in policy.