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Unity, cooperation path forward for G20: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-09-10 19:33

An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard next to a billboard for the Group of 20 (G20) summit in New Delhi, India, Sept 7, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

This may not be the most promising time for the Group of 20 as geopolitical tensions threaten internal divide. The first-stage meeting of the 18th G20 Summit in New Delhi, however, offered at least two consolations.

First, by including the 55-member African Union as the 21st member, the G20 has significantly boosted its representativeness, which correspondingly will increase its impact.

And second, by eventually managing to issue a joint communique acceptable to all member economies, attempts at which had been abortive at the earlier high-level meetings of the grouping, it has sent a message that members still want to sustain the multilateral platform.

This might be the best one can anticipate from a grouping as diverse as the G20.

Negotiations on the wording of the communique, with the Russia-Ukraine conflict being the most divisive subject, were a big challenge. The language has been toned down from the document released at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia: from outright condemnation of "Russian aggression" to principled opposition to "the threat or use of force" and the "use of nuclear weapons" without referring to any country.

This, on the one hand, reflects the efforts India as the host has made to send a message of unity, even though it is evidently much weaker than when the economies came together to find ways to deal with the 2008 global financial crisis. On the other hand, it shows that, although reluctantly, member economies acknowledge the importance of avoiding open confrontation.

Differences and disputes between some major countries have reached such dangerous levels since and because of the Ukraine crisis that many have started questioning the relevance of multilateral organizations such as the G20 which have members that almost always oppose each other. Therefore, we should also appreciate the member economies' willingness to communicate and compromise.

Whatever differences they may have, the world's leading economies share an obligation to prevent a repeat of the damaging bloc confrontation of the Cold War years, for it will prove disastrous for all countries, especially when post-pandemic global economic recovery calls for coordinated response.

The Indian prime minister's appeal for "concrete solutions" to such global challenges as "the North and the South divide, the chasm between the East and the West" is a timely reminder of some of the most outstanding obstacles to achieving the needed synergy.

As Premier Li Qiang said at the summit, the only path forward is through unity and cooperation. Li urged the economies to be partners for global economic recovery, open cooperation, and sustainable development, and to pursue inclusive, not exclusionary, development.

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