At the time of the New Delhi summit in 1983, India and China – which attended only as observers – had comparable GDPs, only a small fraction of the GDP of the United States. Forty years later, India hosted a G-20 summit, which it is leading this year in a very different context. China, the world’s second largest economy, competes with the United States. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that China will contribute 35% of global growth in 2023, India 15% and America (North and South) 14%. While the Chinese economy sets the pace, India is booming. It is already the most populous country in the world, ahead of China. And it just landed on the moon.
The G20 summit, attended by President Joe Biden, key leaders of the West and major emerging economies, was supposed to be a kind of apotheosis of this “Indian moment”. A last-minute announcement dampened the mood: Chinese President Xi Jinping was replaced by his prime minister. Added to this is the absence of Vladimir Putin, who is embroiled in his war in Ukraine and is now unattractive to the West.
In this context, Biden wants to take advantage of the absence of his Chinese and Russian counterparts to strengthen their alliances within a sharply divided bloc. However, It is unlikely that the countries present will be able to overcome their differences on a range of topics such as the war in Ukraine, phasing out fossil fuels or debt restructuring to address critical global issues, particularly energy and climate change.
“One Earth, One Family, One Future.” That is the optimistic motto of the G20 summit. But the leaders of the group – which includes 19 countries plus the European Union and represents 85% of the global economy and two-thirds of the world’s population – are more divided than ever. These two days provide an opportunity to address deep differences over the Ukraine war, fossil fuel phase-out and debt restructuring. These are all problems that are likely to stand in the way of an agreement.
Joe Biden was expected to discuss a range of joint efforts to address global issues, including climate change and mitigating the economic and social consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The US President also wanted to use the summit to strengthen his alliances within the G-20 and offer support to developing countries.
The Chinese president’s absence has undermined U.S. efforts to ensure that the G-20 remains the premier forum for global economic cooperation. Without China’s involvement, there would be a risk that the issues would not come to light or reach a logical conclusion.
Another shadow hanging over the summit was the war in Ukraine. Until Russia ends this war, On the international stage it will never be possible to do “business as usual”.. The global crises facing the G-20 are more difficult, complicated and worrying than they have been in a long time.
India, which just reaffirmed its status as a space power by landing a spacecraft on the moon in August, sees its G20 presidency as a defining moment that will make it a major global player once and for all. Prime Minister Narendra Modi presents the country as the self-proclaimed leader of the “Global South”which sees itself as a bridge between industrialized and developing countries and is pushing for the bloc to be expanded to form the “G-21” through the inclusion of the African Union.
Modi is also trying to use the G-20 to reform multilateral institutions like the UN and give developing countries a greater voice. India’s emergence as the world’s fastest-growing economy and its inclusive approach is good news for the countries of the South.
Another conflictual shadow hanging over the Indian summit are the military maneuvers in New Delhi the disputed Himalayan border with China. Relations between the two Asian powers have been strained since a high-altitude clash that killed 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese in June 2020. New tensions erupted in late August after Beijing released a map showing areas claimed by New Delhi. India is seeking to strengthen ties with Western countries and particularly with members of the Quad, an alliance of the United States, Japan and Australia designed to counter China’s weight in the Asia-Pacific region.