Over the weekend, President Biden traveled to New Delhi for a summit of the world’s 20 biggest economies, or the G20. The talks largely focused on the Global South, which China has been courting with its hugely ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. In fact, it was the need to brush back Beijing that seemed to dominate Biden’s own agenda.
Read more on Yahoo News: Modi seeks to cement India's global standing with G20 summit, via AFP
China concerns dominate
Chinese President Xi Jingping did not attend the New Delhi meeting, but he was clearly on Biden’s mind.
“It would be nice to have him here,” Biden said. He has fostered close ties with Indian leader Narendra Modi, whom he hosted for an official state visit in late June. The world’s most populous country, and fifth biggest economy, is seen as a key ally — even as Modi continues to also enjoy close relations with Russia.
Biden would rather India distance itself from Russia, but he sees Modi as a valuable ally when it comes to China.
The Biden administration views China as the top geopolitical threat to the United States and is watching carefully as Beijing struggles to contain a burgeoning economic crisis.
“I think China has a difficult economic problem right now for a whole range of reasons that relate to the international growth and lack thereof and … the policies that China has followed,” Biden said at a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, which he visited after the G20 summit.
The Biden administration has engaged in a number of partnerships with countries in East Asia and the Pacific Rim in an effort to box in China and dissuade its leaders from invading Taiwan or taking other aggressive steps to expand its reach.
At the G20 summit, he argued that the United States was a more reliable partner than China for developing nations in South America, Asia and Africa.
At the same time, Biden reassured his listeners, as he has many times before, that the United States has no interest in a direct confrontation with Beijing.
“I don't want to contain China,” he said in Vietnam. “I just want to make sure that we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up, squared away, everybody knows what it's all about.”
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Divided on Ukraine
Russia is a member of the G20, but President Vladimir Putin did not attend. Nevertheless, he probably would have been pleased with the wording of the joint statement that followed the meeting.
“We call on all states to uphold the principles of international law including territorial integrity and sovereignty, international humanitarian law, and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability,” it said, without blaming Russia directly for the war that it caused.
Western Europe may be entirely behind Ukraine, in part because Russia is a direct threat. But that’s not the case elsewhere, including in both India and Vietnam (the latter is not a G20 member). Putin has used Russian energy and grain as a means to keep the Global South from joining the pro-Ukraine alliance — and has been successful so far.
“There were different views and assessments of the situation,” the G20 communiqué tersely but tellingly said.
Read more on Yahoo News: Countries of the global south helped avoid Ukraine overshadowing G20 agenda - Lavrov, via Reuters
Climate change emerges as another point of disagreement
The divisions that exist when it comes to the war in Ukraine are also apparent in regard to climate change. The United States and many Western European nations are aggressively trying to phase out or at least reduce the use of fossil fuels.
“We resolve to pursue environmentally sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” the G20 communiqué said. The nations agreed to triple the amount of renewable energy they produce by 2030 — but made no mention of reducing their reliance on carbon-burning fuels at the same time.
China is now the world’s most prolific coal-burning nation.
Read more on Yahoo News: UN report says the world is way off track to curb global warming, but offers ways to fix that, via AP