By Wang Yusheng
From last year's G-8 summit held in Toyako, Japan, to this year's summit held in L'Aquila, Italy, the international climate has changed drastically. First and foremost, the financial crisis starting from the US has spread all over the world and has affected many countries. Secondly, the rise of big developing countries (such as the G5, comprising China, India, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico) enables the developing world to hold positive instead of passive dialogues with the G8. Thirdly, the White House's new occupant, Barack Obama, is adopting foreign policies quite different from that of his predecessor, George W. Bush. His administration seeks "multilateral cooperation" and is "willing to listen" to opposing voices.
New situations are closely connected with new tasks. The top priority of the G8 summit is to figure out how to jointly face and tackle the ongoing financial crisis and other related problems. The facts show that the G8 is not capable of dominating the development of international affairs and is powerless to deal with the financial crisis alone. G8 nations have to seek cooperation with developing countries, especially the G5 emerging nations. The dialogue among the G8, G5 and Egypt at the summit shall be longer than that of the previous summits and the agenda will not be decided by any single party. G5 leaders will hold private meetings, have dinners and meet the reporters together. This shows that G5's status and position will see historic changes in the upcoming dialogues with G8.
The G-8, G-5 and Egypt account for two-thirds of the G20. If they could reach some principal consensus through talks on how to deal with the financial crisis and promote reform of the international financial system and send some positive signal to the world, they will be applauded by the whole world and will make beneficial contributions to the third gathering of G20 leaders on the economic crisis to be held in Pittsburgh.
The current question is whether the Western developed countries, especially the US, could come down off their high horse and prepare to establish new partnerships with developing countries on the basis of real equality, common interests and win-win cooperation. Obama's new foreign policy will also be tested by the summit.
During the summit the developing counties will push for three basic requirements in the management of the global economy and the reform of the financial system:
1. Broader representation shall be fought for according to the principals of democracy in international relations. International affairs shall not be decided by only one or two parties.
2. Equality is needed. Any big issues shall be resolved through cooperation and coordination between developing countries and developed countries with each having an equal say.
3. Effective follow-through is stressed for fear that the developed countries only pay lip services. Developed countries and developing countries should address substantial problems through concerted efforts. Let's take the reform of the International Monetary Fund(IMF) as an example. The IMF veto mechanism must be changed. It is useless to say developing countries have increased influence in the IMF when the US' 17 percent voting stake alone is enough to veto any decision.
Faced with pressing situations, if the US and other developed countries can make good judgments about current situations and developing countries make gradual progress with no haste, the G8, G5, Egypt L'Aquila summit is likely to obtain some positive achievements.
Wang Yusheng is the executive director of the Center for Strategic Studies under the China Foundation for International Studies (CFIS), former Chinese APEC official.
(China.org.cn translated by Zhang Ming'ai, July 9, 2009)