At G-20, Japan backs India, not China, as bridge to Global South: Japanese experts


Security personnel with a sniffer dog frisk the area near the G-20 Summit venue in New Delhi on September 7, 2023.

Security personnel with a sniffer dog frisk the area near the G-20 Summit venue in New Delhi on September 7, 2023.
| Photo Credit: AP

Beyond the immediate outcomes of the G-20 Summit, one key takeaway with longer term implications is the positioning of India as a key bridge to the “Global South” for Japan and the West, in the view of Japanese experts.

“Japan sees a rivalry over the leadership of the ‘Global South’ between India and China, and it is in the interest of Japan and the G-7 that India plays a leading role in the ‘Global South’, not China,” said Hiroyuki Akita, Tokyo-based strategic affairs commentator at Nikkei, in an interview with The Hindu.

Mr. Akita said that was one of the key issues for Japan in the lead-up to this year’s G-20, so much so that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the May meeting of the G-7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.) in Hiroshima.

“As Chairman of the G-7 this year, it’s been a priority for Japan to collaborate with India as a bridge to narrow the divide on many issues between the G-7 and the G-11, that is the rest of the G-20 except for China and Russia, which are trying to counter the G-7 world order,” he said.

The approach has been to find shared interests and common ground, not on “values” that can divide but on issues such as transparency and sustainability in investments, dealing with debt crises, and climate financing, key issues that will be reflected in the G-20 outcomes.

India-China divide

The negotiations in the lead-up to the summit have brought into sharp focus a widening India-China divide on multilateral and global issues. Worsening relations in the last three years amid the on-going Line of Actual Control (LAC) crisis have coincided with widening positions on multilateral issues that both countries had a decade ago worked together on, such as climate change, an issue that has now largely faded from the bilateral agenda as well. On debt crises faced in the developing world, India has also increasingly pointed to Chinese lending, under the 2013-launched Belt and Road Initiative which India did not join, as a cause.

Liu Hong, vice-president of the Centre for China and Globalisation (CCG) in Beijing, said the broader issue was “not about only India and China but how Asian countries as a whole can improve their ability to manage and influence global governance, including at the G-20, which, if you look at its foundation, as primarily been controlled by the West.”

“Bot just the G-20 but even the BRICS and SCO are platforms to discuss global issues and economic cooperation, but unfortunately because of geopolitical factors, the basis to cooperate is not stable,” he said. “Especially in the last three years,” he added, “the communication channels [between India and China] have been broken.”


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