By Zhou Shixin
The 35th G-8 summit will be held in the Italian mountain town of L'Aquila from Wednesday to Friday. The dialogue between the G-8 and emerging economies will be held simultaneously. G-8 leaders will meet leaders from the Group of Five, whose members are emerging powers (China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa). Leaders from Algeria, Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Korea and Sweden as President of European Council will also attend the summit.
These leaders will exchange views about the current international crisis, the recovery of the world economy, climate change, energy and food security, achievement of millennium development goals, African development, the Heiligendamm process, disarmament, the fight against terrorism and peace efforts in world hot spots.
The G-8 summit is nicknamed the "Global Governance Council." Both developed and less developed countries meet to talk about common issues. The universality of representatives at the G-8 summit illustrates that G-8 countries no longer dominate international topics and agendas. The emerging powers have become indispensable to the G-8 summit in helping to achieve efficient and fruitful solutions.
Economically, G-8 members are all industrialized countries with high GDP and GDP per capita and more vetoes in the International Monetary Fund. They set the procedures and processions of most international affairs with the help of international regimes that have governed since the end of World War II. They control the circulation and ultimate fortune of most international financial, economical and security mechanisms.
But with the development and expansion of economic globalization and the pragmatic application of new technologies, the economies of emerging powers have developed so fast that some economic indexes of emerging powers have already surpassed some G-8 members. G-8 members are slowly losing the traditional advantages they used to enjoy. The political influence of emerging powers is also growing as their economies grow.
The G-8 is losing its charm and power in the world. In recent years, member countries have been seeking to consolidate their influence in international affairs by providing assistance to the poor and underdeveloped countries. But the effects have been so limited because developed countries have been reluctant to supply strategic resources and quick to impose political pressures on their domestic affairs. When the financial and economic situations of these developed countries are in trouble, their willingness to commit to their international responsibilities will decrease accordingly.
Thus, the G-8 members are seeking to transmit or share part of their international responsibilities with the emerging powers. During the current financial and economic crisis, G-8 countries have suffered so much that they are not strong enough to govern international affairs. At the same time, some emerging powers are exhibiting more and more influence in international affairs.
After the G-20 summit in London this past April, the emerging powers are pushing for innovations in the World Bank and the IMF. A change in voting power in the IMF has been under way, where the United States' unitary veto right has been canceled and the voting power of the emerging powers has been increased correspondingly.
When there are more powerful countries, international power is much more decentralized. The phenomenon of polarization is reduced when most of the big powers have to appeal to multilateral cooperation to solve intractable international issues.
The G-8 countries will lose their stimulus and impetus to survive as the leading powers in the world if they don't cooperate with the emerging powers in managing international affairs. They must find a proper way to integrate the emerging powers at the proper time when dealing with specific international issues. After all, the United States – not the G-8 summit – is the best platform to talk about international affairs when the representing parties really commit to resolving international issues and keep stability and prosperity in the world.
Zhou Shixin is research fellow of Shanghai Institutes of international Studies.
(China.org.cn July 7, 2009)