On June 03, the US President Donald Trump invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the upcoming G7 Summit. President Trump has also invited Australia, Russia and South Korea in the G7 Summit, which has revealed his plan to expand G7 into G11.
Trump’s relationship with the G7 member countries and their leaders has been in jeopardy since the 2017 Summit held at Quebec, Canada. President Trump left the Summit early after being isolated over Paris Climate Change deal. It was the first time he hinted his desire to expand the Group by calling for Russia – expelled in 2014 over Crimea crisis – to be reinstated to the Group. Since then, he has been trying to expand the Group.
Trump’s ulterior motives behind G7 expansion
President Trump’s plan to expand G7 apparently is an effort to widen the club so that these countries not only share burden of international institutions but may also play a leadership role in virus control and economic recovery of the world. Interestingly, three out of four countries of Trump’s proposal – Australia, South Korea and India – are US allies in Asia Pacific region.
Australia and India are active members of Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue (QSD) or known as “the Quad”, while Japan (member country of the Quad) is already a member of the G7. China has serious concerns over the Quad and it had officially lodged diplomatic protest to its member countries after its formation in 2007. The inclusion of these two countries will convert G7 group into an anti-China bloc.
Read more: G7 meeting ‘probably’ at White House: Trump
Thus, Trump’s intent to expand the Group is driven by geopolitics rather than economics and an effort to incentivize these countries for rigorously implementing his strategy of Free and Open Indo-Pacific. In 2017, President Trump announced this strategy at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vietnam.
"What's the point of a party if you can't invite your friends? President Donald Trump is trying to turn the off again, on again, off again G7 summit this year into a G11 — at least," writes @StCollinson https://t.co/Umhh9ZAYZG
— CNN (@CNN) June 4, 2020
Since then he has been beefing up his efforts to forge a concrete alliance to curtail Chinese influence in the region. South Korea is reluctant to be part of FOIP despite U.S. lobbying. Trump’s invitation to President Moon Jae of South Korea for participating in G7 Summit is another attempt to convince Seoul to join his FOIP strategy.
Trump increases anti-China rhetoric to woo voters
Trump’s desire to expand G7 can be looked through the prism of another effort of a publicity stunt for domestic politics. Unlike his predecessors, Trump’s overall image has been developed as a leader who can strongly challenge China. It seems his presidential campaign will largely revolve around anti-China rhetoric with a narrative that he has curtailed Chinese influence in the Pacific region. This is why since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the US; he has been more aggressive on China on various issues and beefing up pressure on Beijing through diplomatic, political and economic means.
It also might be an attempt to win over Indian-American vote bank. The gathering of over 50,000 crowd of Indian-Americans in Houston in 2019 during PM Modi’s visit to the US had raised political stature of Indian-American community in the US. In 2016, Trump could not win in New York and California where over half a million Indian-Americans are residing.
Prime Minister Modi immediately accepted Trump’s invitation owing to long-awaited Indian desire to be part of the world’s leading international clubs including the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the G7 group. The expansion of G7 and Indian inclusion in the group might have long term consequences for the region and Pakistan. New Delhi will have one more platform for promotion of its political and strategic interests through diplomatic maneuvering.
Indian inclusion in the G7 – danger for Pakistan?
Keeping in view New Delhi’s attitude and historic behaviour, India will not only propagate its fears against China to get more trade benefits from the powerful economies but will also try to portray a bleak picture of Pakistan’s inaction on terror financing as it did at Financial Action Task Force (FATF) forum to financially damage Pakistan’s interests.
The G7 fills out numerous global top lists including leading export countries, largest gold reserves, largest nuclear energy producers and top contributors to the United Nations (UN) budget. With that sort of economic and political heft, the G7 is uniquely positioned to make things happen around the world, both in and outside their own countries, and both economically and politically.
International Organizations such as International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), United Nations (UN), World Trade Organization (WTO) International Energy Agency (IEA) and African Union (AF) have been regularly invited in these Summits and they keenly observe the financial and political global trends during the Summits.
Hence, New Delhi’s inclusion in the Group will also strengthen its case to be the permanent member of UNSC, which will be a nightmare for both Beijing and Islamabad.
For the time being Trump’s proposal does not have substantial support of other members of the Group, but the debate to expand the Group has intensified academically.
If the theory comes into practice, does Pakistan ready to see its arch-rival in the most powerful economic Group?
The writer is a Ph.D. candidate at the NUST and Research Officer at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.