Poli­tical dysfunc­tion of G20 Bali-Summit: But Russia and China stay together

The China Dragon strong as before back for the new millennium - Photo: Alexey Merinov

By YURY TAVROVSKY | Like the UN, G7 and other global orga­niza­tions, the G20 seems to acquire clear symptoms of dysfunc­tion as well. G20 has started to operate in its format after the G7 meeting had failed to cope with the finan­cial crisis in 2008. There was hope that with the invol­vement of China, India and other major world players, the shares of the global economy would go up again. But the annual decis­ions of the 20 world leaders have turned-out as vague and incon­sis­tent as those of the G7 summits before.
The usel­ess­ness of a new geopo­li­tical commu­nity was proven during the global crisis in the wake of the CoV pandemic. Nobody noticed the 2021 summit in Rome, which was missing a good half of all G20 leaders: Beau­tiful reso­lu­tions on fighting the infec­tion and helping the „third world“ were adopted nevert­heless. But no one was going to fulfil those pledges, thus the fate of the poor and their count­ries has corre­sponded to the saying „Ever­yone dies alone.“

Not surpri­singly, the current summit on the Indo­ne­sian island of Bali did not arouse increased enthu­siasm among the its 20-member states. Presi­dent Putin did not become distracted from current important matters and did not show up. Chairman Xi Jinping thought for a long time, but nevert­heless decided to go and demons­trate to his colle­agues of the “big poli­tical league”  his new poli­tical weight after the 20th Commu­nist Party Congress. The personal invi­ta­tion of Indo­ne­sian Presi­dent Joko Widodo, who came to Beijing for that purpose, worked in favour of the trip. Chinese colle­agues presented another more playful version: Xi Jinping’s wife, the beau­tiful Peng Liyuan, might have longed for a world-class social event, in line to present her unique „Liyuan style“ outfits that combine Western styles with elements of tradi­tional Chinese costumes.

I think the real reason might differ: Sino-American rela­tions were dange­rously close to the precipice of mili­tary conflict, thus it became neces­sary to discuss the situa­tion face to face. Arran­ging a special meeting was diffi­cult for various internal and external reasons. But a meeting „at the side-lines” of G20 looked just perfect.

The talks between the heads of China and the United States took place the day before the start of the offi­cial program and lasted for more than 3 hours. Joe Biden spoke quite briefly about their content at a press confe­rence. Xi Jinping decided not to meet with the press, but the Chinese version was covered by means of a detailed Xinhua news release.

Judging by its text, the “Chairman of the Celes­tial Empire” spoke at length and in detail about the decis­ions of the 20th Congress of the CPC, which approved the results of ten years of deve­lo­p­ment under Xi‚s leader­ship. Pros­pects for the move­ment up to 2035 were outlined as well. Subse­quently, not without a jab against the American poli­tical system in place, the “high degree of conti­nuity and stabi­lity” of the Chinese poli­tical system was empha­sized. Taking a conci­li­a­tory tone, Xi Jinping stressed that „the expanse of the world is big enough“ for China and the USA. Beijing does not want to inter­fere in US affairs, change the world order or take America’s place in the world. But harsher notes were exch­anged during their discus­sions about the situa­tion around Taiwan, which has escalated since 2018 with the begin­ning of the US Cold War against China. In his tradi­tional figu­ra­tive language, Presi­dent Xi explained to Presi­dent Biden that „the Taiwan issue lies at the core of China’s funda­mental inte­rests, the foun­da­tion of China-US relations.“

Biden had no choice but to repeat the mantra of good inten­tions towards Beijing: Washington does not want a „Cold War“ with China, is not going to change the system in the Middle Kingdom, and does not intend to streng­then mili­tary-poli­tical alli­ances directed against China. The US does not support the idea of Taiwan‚s inde­pen­dence. Notes of realism sounded in the words of Biden: „Rivalry between the United States and China is inevi­table, but it should not slide into conflict.“ The state­ment of the Presi­dent of the United States were met with irony by the media and the expert commu­nity of China. “Whoever started the fight must end it,” the Global Times of Beijing wrote. Other publi­cists have high­lighted the tradi­tional inco­he­rence of words and deeds by the American poli­tical estab­lish­ment, compa­ring it to a chronic disease called „dysfunc­tion“…

The meeting between Xi Jinping and Joseph Biden did not, and could not, improve Sino-American rela­tions. China’s national inte­rests dictate a course towards further streng­thening its inde­pen­dence in world affairs. US national inte­rests dictate attempts to elimi­nate all those who disagree with American hegemony. At best, their slide into conflict can be slowed down and put into a regu­lated framework.

Beijing has shown good­will and, follo­wing the talks in Bali, is resuming cont­acts in areas blocked after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Right on the side-lines of the summit, high-level talks on climate issues were held. No reciprocal conces­sions from the United States are yet to be seen, although it might be possible to expect the lifting of some trade sanc­tions or rest­ric­tions regar­ding the supply of chips. Perhaps Anthony Blinken will talk about these issues during his next trip to Beijing. Perhaps China‚s gene­rous advance is seen in Beijing as a gift to US Presi­dent Biden. “Sleepy Joe” will turn 80 by November 20, and Xi and Biden travelled a lot toge­ther and jointly cele­brated as well. In 2011, Vice Presi­dent Xi Jinping accom­pa­nied Vice Presi­dent Biden on a study tour in China. In the follo­wing year, Biden accom­pa­nied his colle­ague Xi Jinping on a similar tour through the US. They, in parti­cular, visited a farmer in Iowa, who in 1985 received a young provin­cial leader under the State Depart­ment program, who has been no other than Xi Jinping by then.

Gifts remain gifts, but no progress was recorded on the main issues. The problem of Beijing’s rappro­che­ment with Moscow was hardly touched upon. Hopes to sepa­rate the two Eura­sian powers have faded with the bifur­ca­tion point having been passed by the inten­si­fi­ca­tion of the US-contain­ment versus China’s trade, tech­no­lo­gical and mili­tary in parallel with the inci­ting of Ukraine against Russia. The Western and Eastern fronts of the global Cold War were clearly defined, and an inevi­table inter­ac­tion between them does exist.

At the G20 summit, Xi Jinping himself and his team were faithful regar­ding their „stra­tegic part­ner­ship“ with Moscow and they resisted against an attempted isola­tion and condem­na­tion of Russia. In another global forum, at the UN and same time, China voted against a reso­lu­tion on „repa­ra­tions“ supposed in favour of Ukraine due to the „inva­sion“ by Russia. This was the first time that Beijing has aban­doned its neutral posi­tion when discus­sing events in Ukraine and did not abstain from voting. Explai­ning this beha­viour, the Chinese repre­sen­ta­tive noted that the very concept of „inva­sion“ as used by the West is meeting scep­ti­cism by the count­ries of the East, like China and India. The repre­sen­ta­tive of the People’s Repu­blic of China also stressed the unpre­ce­dented nature of the demand for compen­sa­tion in UN prac­tice. “If you follow this logic, then shouldn’t the United States be held accoun­table for the previous series of mili­tary actions that have caused damage to count­ries and peoples?”, he ques­tioned.

In this connec­tion the Chinese diplomat acknow­ledged the great importance of the issue of repa­ra­tions and compen­sa­tion: “Count­ries that have suffered the conse­quences of wrong doings such as colo­nia­lism, inter­ven­tions, unila­teral sanc­tions and economic blockades in the past are entitled to redress. The decis­ions of the UN General Assembly will help to find the right path in the future.”

By adop­ting a reso­lu­tion on „repa­ra­tions“, the West has opened a Pandora’s box. Now the count­ries of the South and East have been presented with a legi­ti­mate prece­dent for their demands from yesterday’s colo­ni­zers and current lovers of sanc­tions to compen­sate for their past losses and suffe­rings. China, for example, can recal­cu­late at today’s rate previous indem­ni­ties paid to the British and French aggres­sors during the years of the two „Opium Wars“ (1840–1842 and 1856–1860). The bill for U.S. trade sanc­tions since July 2018 could also become quite hefty.

While oppo­sing the US for use of $300 billion of stolen Russian dollars to cover losses from the Ukrai­nian crisis, Beijing has probably been reminded about its tril­lion dollars in the accounts of the Federal Treasury and another two tril­lion in the banks of the US and other Western count­ries. American „stage­coach robbers“  in turn might present bills for Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, or invent any other far-fetched cases.

The G20 summit in Bali ended without sensa­tio­na­lism. It gave the leaders of the world powers an oppor­tu­nity to meet „on the side-lines“ in the wake of this geopo­li­tical event. A steady rise of China’s pres­tige has been recorded. The summit confirmed the down­ward trend regar­ding the importance of the United States in world affairs and further the fall in „disci­pline“ even among loyal US-vassals, who all “had queued” for an audi­ence with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.

Trans­la­tion from Russian by UNSER MITTELEUROPA

Kommentieren Sie den Artikel

Bitte geben Sie Ihren Kommentar ein!
Bitte geben Sie hier Ihren Namen ein