European diplomats have previously told Bloomberg that doing so would mean the group risks becoming an anti-China front and that anti-China rhetoric could foment a Cold War-style standoff with Beijing, which the diplomats said the G-7 must avoid after it batted away Donald Trump’s attempts to do the same.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting this year’s G-7, has invited South Korea, India and Australia to attend the leaders’ summit in Cornwall in June. While it is standard practice for a Group of Seven host to invite guest countries, their involvement through the process is typically limited, but according to a person familiar with Johnson’s plans, the guests’ participation this year will be deeper than usual.
It was during a virtual meeting of the group’s political directors on Jan. 22, that the U.K. told the other six members it was planning to ask the three countries to attend parts of a foreign and development ministers’ meeting, and have the G-7 sign an “Open Societies Charter” with them. Japan
pushed back despite reassurances that Britain doesn’t want to expand or dilute the G-7, according to the cable. U.K. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab is hoping to hold the meeting in person May 3-6 in Wales.
The idea of expanding the G-7 was floated by Trump last year. In addition to Australia, South Korea and India, he proposed re-inviting Russia, which was ejected after the annexation of Crimea.
President Joe Biden hasn’t indicated where he stands on the issue but has said he wants to convene a summit of democracies. And prominent voices in both the U.K. and the U.S. have continued to call for the group to open its doors to new members.
though, South Korea’s participation is awkward given renewed tensions stemming from its 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula, and it doesn’t want to see membership or a privileged status extended to Australia and India, in particular, either -- European G-7 diplomats said Japan’s objections are in part likely because it wants to be the only Asian country in the forum.
“Our country will respect the judgment of the host country,” Japan’s prime minister told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
“While we respect that, our stance is that it’s extremely important to maintain the framework of the G-7.” During the same panel, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said he discussed the matter with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, adding “it is important for G-7 to work together now.”
The Japanese Foreign Ministry emailed similar comments in response to Bloomberg’s questions. The U.K. government declined to comment.
Following last week’s virtual meeting of G-7 political directors, a British diplomat wrote to colleagues saying the U.K. would need to find a way of managing Japan’s concerns while still delivering the wider goal of building a broader partnership of open societies.
Repair and Reinvigorate
The U.K’s other plans have been mostly welcomed by the rest of the group as an opportunity to repair and reinvigorate the G-7, and multilateralism more generally, after what the cable describes as a “dysfunctional” 2020. Under the U.S. presidency, the group failed to offer a collective response to the coronavirus pandemic, was embroiled in transatlantic spats over China and managed to produce only two joint statements.
Officials from the six participating governments were told that the Foreign and Development track of the G-7 will center on three themes: open societies focusing on shared values and human rights; sustainable recovery, covering girls’ education, food security, climate action and vaccines; and renewing partnerships with like minded countries, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and engagement with Africa.
On security, the U.K. set out six potential areas of focus: China, Russia and its neighborhood, Iran, the eastern Mediterranean, the Horn of Africa and the Indo-Pacific. The U.S. delegate welcomed the agenda and emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to tackling climate change and multilateralism.
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.