Image attribution: Agência Brasil/Roberto Stuckert Filho
A Year of Opportunity and Challenge as the G7 and G20 come to Asia
2016 will be an important year for Asia and its position in global summitry with Japan holding the presidency of the Group of 7 (G7) and China assuming a similar role in the Group of 20 (G20). The culmination of their respective efforts will be in May when Japan hosts a summit meeting of the G7 leaders in Shima and later in the year in September when China welcomes the G20 leaders’ to a summit in Hangzhou.
A guide to Global Summits - Understanding the Gaggle of Gs
|What is their purpose?||
One glance at international politics and there appears to be a multitude of groups and summits with different numbers in their name from G7 to G8 to G20. Regardless of the alphanumeric configuration, they all serve the same purpose - providing an opportunity for the world's most important leaders to speak to each other directly in an informal atmosphere and find solutions to global problems.
The G7 first met as a G6 (France, US, UK, West Germany, Japan and Italy) in November 1975 in response to a range of pressing economic issues. The agenda soon expanded beyond economics to include political, security and social issues. Membership also expanded with Canada joining in 1976 and the EU being given a seat at the summit table the following year. During the 1990s, Russia was included to form a G8 but has been excluded since 2014 in response to the crisis in Ukraine.
At the same time, since 2008, the G20 leaders have also met. Initially this was intended as a crisis meeting in response to the Global Economic and Finance Crisis but has developed into a regular date in the calendar of global summits. By including rising states such as China, Brazil and India, the G20 is seen to be a more representative and legitimate body then the exclusive G7.
|What have they achieved in the past?||
Both Gs have often been accused of being little more than talking shops making hollow commitments that are usually ignored. However, it is important to remember that these are informal groupings with no legal basis or formal membership. They are premised on the idea that bringing the most powerful leaders in the world together face-to-face can result in a breakthrough on an issue. Examples include the creation of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at the 2000 Okinawa Summit, which has saved millions of lives, or the G20's ability to come together at the 2009 London Summit and prop up the global banking system.
What can we expect from China and Japan
What can we expect of the second and third largest economies in the world as they step into the influential role of host of two of the central mechanisms of global governance? Will Japan seek to build on Germany’s efforts to direct the G7 towards the issue of climate change at last year’s summit? What can the G7 concretely achieve without China as a member and with a US presidential election and UK referendum on EU membership in the offing later in the year? Will hosting a G20 summit for the first time herald a new dawn in China’s global leadership role? What can be done to boost the global economy? Will Sino-Japanese rivalry impact on both summits' chances of success?
Professor Hugo Dobson has been researching the G7 and G20 Global Summits for over a decade often working inside the International Media Centre at these summits. You can access below some of his research on the importance of both mechanisms of global governance to China and Japan.
Once again, Professor Dobson will be heading to the summits in China and Japan with colleagues from the Department of Politics and a team of student analysts selected as part of the Global Leadership Initiative.
Related Research and Activities
Is Japan Really Back? The “Abe Doctrine” and Global Governance
apanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has emerged as the “comeback kid” of Japanese politics and in his second term of office is now widely regarded as a rare example of strong leadership as he seeks to arrest and reverse his country’s perceived decline....
China and the G20
SEAS recently hosted a public lecture by Professor Peter Drysdale on China and its role as host of the 2016 G20 Summit. Professor Katherine Morton reviews the event.
G20 Chair and Globalisation's Future
China's role in the G20 has greatly evolved since the global financial crisis broke out in 2008. After watching other economies take the G20 chair for five years, China made its bid in 2014 and was chosen to host the G20 Leaders Summit in 2016.
Professor Hugo Dobson's opinions on G20 and global relations
China Daily reporter Chen Yingqun spoke with Professor Hugo Dobson, about his opinions on the G20 Summit and global relations.
Asia's Rivaly heats up as Japan and China play host to seperate global summits
Despite occasional reasons to be optimistic, relations between China and Japan have been consistently poor over recent years.....
China’s Presidency of the G20 Hangzhou: On Global Leadership and StrategyChina is the host presidency for the G20 Leaders Summit for the cycle-year of 2016. In assuming the G20 presidency.....
Read in full
China's G20 MomentSpeculation will inevitably rise ahead of China’s assumption of the G20 chair at the end of this year and its hosting of its first G20 summit in November 2016 ......
Read in full
Japan and the G7/8This book analyses Japan's international relations and participation in the multilateral forum, the G8, since its creation in 1975..... Get the book
G20 Policy Briefs
While at the G20 Summit in China, members of the Global Leadership Initiative team wrote a number of blog posts and Policy Briefs, analysing the events of the summit. As members of the team, Prof Hugo Dobson and SEAS Students Melissa Pilgrim and Annemie Zimmerman have published Policy Briefs in the Global Policy Journal.
All members of the team have written in the Global Policy Journal and you can view their work here
Slightly Less Fear and Loathing in Sino-Japanese Relations? By Hugo Dobson
“With Japan hosting the forty-second G7 summit in early summer and China hosting the eleventh G20 summit a few months later, 2016 held the promise of being an important year both for Asia’s two superpowers and the region’s overall presence in global summitry….”
Great Expectations: China as a G20 host By Melissa Pilgrim, BA Chinese Studies with French
“Hosting the G20 for the first time gave China a chance to prove itself in a multitude of ways, on a perfectly choreographed and meticulously-watched world stage. Leading up to the start of the summit there was much talk in the global media about issues that had the potential to impede talks between China and other G20 members…”
The South China Sea: can the G20 play a part in conflict resolution? By Annemie Zimmerman, BA East Asian Studies
“As economic development continues to be key to China’s core aims, and a means by which to continue building bridges with its regional and global partners, the G20 summit remains key to the country’s interactions with the world…”
G7 Policy Briefs
While at the G7 Summit in Japan, members of the Global Leadership Initiative team wrote a number of blog posts and Policy Briefs, analysing the events of the summit. As members of the team, Prof Hugo Dobson and MA Contemporary Japan student John Jacobs have published Policy Briefs in the Global Policy Journal.
All members of the team have written in the Global Policy Journal and you can view their work.
Sino-Japanese Rivalry and a Potential Battle for the'Gs' By Prof Hugo Dobson
"Although China is not a member of the G7, its shadow has loomed large over recent summits. The reason for this is not only because of China’s rise but also partly a result of the consistently poor relations it has experienced with the G7’s only Asian member, Japan..."
The DPRK at Ise-Shima 2016 – Strong on Rhetoric but Light on Solutions By John Jacobs, MA Contemporary Japan
"Although The G7 Ise-Shima Summit 2016 has offered comforting rhetorical support for Abe Shinzō’s security and political concerns vis-à-vis the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), but has offered little prospect for resolving them..."