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G7 or G19?

Jean-Pierre Dumas

Friday, May 19, 2023

According to one senior European diplomat, the G7 is now “the workhorse of western co-operation” — with a shared focus on defending a “free and open international order”. Perhaps, but from an economic and diplomatic point of view, the G7 seems irrelevant today.

From an economic point of view, the G7 accounts for 37% of world GDP (In 2022) (I estimate the world share of each country’s GDP as the average of world GDP calculated in US dollar plus the GDP expressed in purchasing power parity). The share of G19 countries (I don’t consider the EU as a country) amounts to 76% of world GDP. If we look only at the G7 countries, we eliminate 39% of world GDP. Within this 39%, they are newcomers who want to play with the big boys and they are sometimes more or as important as the traditional big boys. China (18% of world GDP against the US, 20.5%), India (5%, more than Japan and Germany, both 4%). Russia (2.6%, the same weight as France and the UK), Brazil (2%, the same weight as Italy), Indonesia (1.9%, the same weight as Canada).

From a diplomatic point of view, whatever what we think about the pernicious role of Russia and China in the world, they are major world countries, and they want to be part of the “concert of nations”. One of the great mistakes of the G7 countries was to ignore Putin when he tried to join the club of the G7 or even NATO.

H. Kissinger in an interview with TE (May 17th 2023), considers that “the fate of humanity depends on whether America and China can get along”. According to Kissinger, “China wants to be powerful” for what it is. It is hard to ignore the richest potential guest at the dinner table: China is as powerful as the US in terms of GDP.

According to dear Henry, the Chinese system is more Confucian than Marxist. If China just wants to be respected for its achievement, it deserves to be a full member of the club. The Americans think they want more and rightly cannot accept that they want to impose their communist power on the world. Kissinger proposes to establish, “a permanent dialogue between China and America”. If the major ambition of China is “to play a global role”, it deserves it by its economic power. Kissinger believes that it is possible for the US and China to coexist without the threat of a war, but he admits that he is not sure.

The Kissinger diplomatic approach would be to build trust and a working relationship between the US and China as it is (a communist country, with a largely capitalist economy). In this case, China should be full member at the table; hence the ad hoc grouping is G19, not G7.

According to Kissinger, one way to build a relationship could be to give China an international role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. China may have in this affair some points in common with the US on this issue, it considers that Ukraine should remain an independent country and that the use of nuclear bombs in this conflict is unacceptable. Of course, everything is ambiguous, it is strange to use as a mediator a country that wants to impose its domination on another nation that wants to stay independent and free.

The role of diplomacy is to live in creative ambiguity.

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