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Russia to dominate Western agenda

By YIFAN XU in Washington | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-06-25 04:55

Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, in this April 19, 2018 file photo. [ Photo/Agencies]

At the upcoming G7 and NATO summits, Russia will be No 1 on the agenda, while China will also be a focus, experts said.

Because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, "the focus fundamentally will remain on Russia at these summits", Sourabh Gupta, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for China-America Studies, told China Daily.

He said the issue of China would also be brought into the spotlight, for the two groups "had already been thinking a little bit about China for a few years".

"That's why this issue of China being big into the NATO Strategic Concept was something which was cooking for a couple of years," Gupta said.

The G7 group will hold its 48th summit at Schloss Elmau in Germany between Saturday and Monday. The NATO summit will take place in the Spanish capital Madrid on the last two days of June.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the summit would update the NATO Strategic Concept, and will include China in this document for the first time.

On Tuesday, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted a news briefing call previewing the two summits. During the call, Matthew Goodman, senior vice-president for economics at the CSIS, said the two summits are "a pretty challenging set of meetings" for the United States.

"The good news is that President (Joe) Biden has some wind at his back because he was able to mobilize this group of allies and partners to take on the Russia-Ukraine challenge initially. But the question is: Can he move the ball forward on these two — at these two meetings," Goodman said.

"There are some pretty significant headwinds here. you have Ukraine bogged down. You've got inflation raging, you know, a series of crises from food to energy to health to climate. Obviously, Ukraine is going to loom large and the big question is around whether this group is going to be able to take forward the sanctions."

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan revealed on June 16 that Biden would announce a new global infrastructure plan at the G7 summit to counter the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said any geopolitical calculations that are to advance under the banner of infrastructure development are not welcome and will not succeed.

Caitlin Welsh, director of the CSIS' Global Food Security Program, said at Tuesday's briefing that food security is likely to be high on the G7 agenda given the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on global food security and also preexisting levels of food security due to the impacts of COVID-19, climate change and conflict.

Max Bergmann, director of the Europe Program at the CSIS, said China is something the US has pushed to make a much bigger focus at NATO.

"Of course, when Antony Blinken went to NATO for the first time as US secretary of state, he mentioned China more than 10 times. I think he only mentioned Russia about four times, demonstrating kind of the US focus, at least at the time, in early 2021," he said.

However, Gupta said the summits would not greatly impact Europe-China relations.

"There are very serious situations in Europe. And I think this is a serious situation in Europe that is going to force NATO to be less ambitious in thinking about China and more focused on how to safeguard security on the continent, the European continent," Gupta said.

"Even China's inclusion in the strategic concept is just an initial marker, not really much more than that."

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