G20 Summit concludes with ‘basic unity amid rising divergences’
Chinese Premier Li calls for solidarity, cooperation; African Union joins the group
Published: Sep 10, 2023 10:42 PM Updated: Sep 10, 2023 11:24 PM
G20 Photo:VCG

G20 Photo:VCG

The G20 Summit held in India on Saturday eventually adopted a joint declaration with very basic solidarity and a neutral stance on the Ukraine crisis, which caused rising divergences among members, while Chinese analysts said the G20 is still an important multilateral mechanism for global governance despite the group facing more dangers of dysfunction due to complicated struggles among major powers.

Leaders of the G20 reaffirmed their commitment to international economic cooperation and pledged to take concrete steps to foster global growth, the Xinhua News Agency reported. In a declaration announced on the opening day of the two-day annual summit, G20 leaders said they would act in concrete ways through partnerships to accelerate strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang said at the third session of the 18th G20 Summit on Sunday that the world is undergoing a difficult period of complex and volatile development, and as the difficulties intensify, there is an increasing need to strengthen confidence and enhance expectations for the future, take a long-term view and actively respond to difficulties and challenges.

G20 members should play an exemplary role, start with specific matters and strive to do well in the present, Li said. Noting that the most urgent issue is development, Li pointed out that the G20 members should place development at the center of macro-policy coordination.

Neutrality and fairness 

The joint declaration this year shows no clear criticism and direct condemnation against any country over the Ukraine crisis, which is different from the one in 2022. 

"Concerning the war in Ukraine, while recalling the discussion in Bali, we reiterated our national positions and resolutions adopted at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly," the declaration read, noting that "In line with the UN Charter, all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible." 

The joint declaration at the summit in Bali, Indonesia 2022 said: "Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy… There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions. Recognizing that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we acknowledge that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy."

Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Sunday that the joint declaration this year shows a very basic consensus among the members, and it also proves that the power of developing countries and non-Western economies in this multilateral mechanism is rising, as they are able to preserve neutrality as a joint stance of the G20, preventing the mechanism from being completely controlled and hijacked by Western narratives and positions. 

The declaration in Indonesia included the tough words that the West wanted to include, but the facts prove that these words were not helpful at all for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, due to their unrealistic and selfish policy on the crisis, peace efforts are in difficulties, and the bloodshed and conflict in Ukraine are still far from over, experts said. 

Be more representative

According to the declaration, the leaders said they would better integrate the perspectives of developing countries into the future G20 agenda and strengthen the voice of developing countries in global decision-making.

Welcoming the African Union (AU) as a permanent member of the G20, the group said it strongly believes the AU's inclusion will significantly contribute to addressing global challenges. The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening their ties with and support to the AU and reiterated their strong support of Africa.

Established in 1999, the G20 is a central forum for international cooperation on financial and economic issues. It comprises 19 countries plus the European Union, and now the AU, which was included in the group on Saturday.

"China is the first country that explicitly expressed its support for the African Union's membership in the G20," and "China supports the AU in playing a bigger role in global governance," Mao Ning, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said on Thursday.

Rahamtalla M. Osman, Permanent Representative of the AU to China, told the Global Times in an interview in 2022 that "the AU appreciates China's and Indonesia's support for the AU to join the Group of 20."

Although the AU was formally included at the G20 Summit in India, the result reflects the efforts of all developing countries in the group, and with the participation of the AU, the multilateral mechanism formed by the top economies of the world would be more representative, experts noted. 

Lin Minwang, a professor at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Sunday that India has gained a lot from being the host of the summit this year, as it has made itself "highly attractive" in the international arena, as India is a country that is being courted by both the West and Russia.

"A successful G20 Summit will reinforce the rule of Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party in India."

India also represents that developing countries do not want to take sides between the West and Russia on the Ukraine crisis, and also do not want to be forced to take sides when the US has launched all-out containment against China, Lin said. 

However, India's national strength and economic size are still not enough to realize its ambition to be the leader of the Global South, experts noted.  

Key for global governance

"Cascading crises have posed challenges to long-term growth," the group warned in the declaration, stressing that G20 cooperation is essential in determining the course the world takes.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang said on Sunday that the need to establish more practical cooperation mechanisms, take concrete actions and support developing countries in better addressing development challenges such as poverty reduction, fundraising, climate change and food and energy security.

According to the joint declaration, the group said they would speed up the full and effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and scale up financing from all sources for accelerating progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said at the summit that a lack of commitment to the environment prevails in the world, leading to an unprecedented climate emergency.

He stated that since the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009, rich countries should have provided $100 billion a year in new and additional climate finance to developing countries, but that promise was never fulfilled, the Latin American News Agency reported on Saturday.

This shows that the divergences between developed and developing countries remain unsolved on the climate change issue, and it is unlikely that developed Western countries will fulfill their promises in the future, analysts said.

"Although divergences are increasing among major powers, the G20 is still the most representative multilateral mechanism that focuses on global economic issues. China will keep its participation in the mechanism, to make its voice heard and to listen to voices from the world," Li Haidong said.