Ukraine war, tensions with China cover major summit in Bali

NUSA DUA, Indonesia –

A confrontation between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will not happen, but the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions between China and the West will stand out as the leaders of these economies. world’s largest gathering in tropical Bali this week.

The 20-member group began talks on the Indonesian resort island on Tuesday with the hopeful theme of “recovery together, stronger recovery”. In Putin’s absence, Biden will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and get to know the new British Prime Ministers Rishi Sunak and Giorgia Meloni of Italy.

The summit’s official priorities on health, sustainable energy, and digital transformation are likely to be overshadowed by concerns about a surging global economy and concentrated geopolitical tensions. focused on the war in Ukraine.

The nearly nine-month conflict has disrupted trade in oil, natural gas and grains, and shifted much of the summit’s focus to food and energy security.

Meanwhile, the United States and its allies in Europe and Asia are increasingly confronting a more assertive China, forcing emerging G-20 economies such as India, Brazil and host Indonesia to step down. into a tug-of-war between the larger powers.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has tried to heal rifts in the G-20 over the war in Ukraine. Widodo, also known as Jokowi, became the first Asian leader since the invasion to visit both Russia and Ukraine in the summer.

He invited President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, who is not a G-20 member, to the summit. Zelenskyy is expected to join online.

“One of Jokowi’s priorities is to defuse war tensions and geopolitical risks,” said Bhima Yudhistira, director of the Center for Economic and Legal Studies in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

Last year’s G-20 summit in Rome was the first face-to-face meeting of members since the pandemic, although the leaders of Russia and China did not attend.

This year’s event is integrated by the United Nations climate conference in Egypt and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cambodia, where Biden and several other G-20 leaders are attending. , and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Thailand soon after.

The US president pledged to work with Southeast Asian nations on Saturday, saying that “we will build a better future that we all want to see” in a region where China is growing. trying to increase its influence. On Sunday, Biden conferred with the leaders of Japan and South Korea to discuss China and the threat posed by North Korea.

One question for the Bali summit is whether Russia will agree to extend the United Nations’ Black Sea Grains Initiative, which is scheduled to be extended on November 19.

The July deal allows major global grain producer Ukraine to resume exports from ports that have been largely blocked off for months because of the war. Russia briefly withdrew from the agreement late last month only to rejoin a few days later.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday called for more pressure on Russia to renew the deal, saying Moscow must “stop playing the game of hunger with the world.”

As leaders face conflict and geopolitical tensions, they face the risk that efforts to tame inflation will stifle the post-pandemic recovery or trigger financial crises. weaken.

The effects of war are being felt from the most remote villages of Asia and Africa to the most modern industries. It has increased disruptions to energy supplies, transportation and food security, pushed up prices and complicated efforts to stabilize the world economy in the wake of the pandemic. .

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling on the G-20 to provide financial assistance to the developing world.

“My priority in Bali will be to speak out for the countries in the Southern Hemisphere that have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency, and are currently facing wage crises. real estate, energy and finance – exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and mounting debt,” Guterres said.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts global growth of 2.7% in 2023, while estimates by private sector economists are as low as 1.5%, down from about 3% this year, a level slowest growth since the oil crisis in the early 1980s.

China remains somewhat insulated from soaring inflation, mainly as it struggles to reverse an economic slowdown that has weighed on global growth.

The Chinese economy, the world’s second largest, grew at a 3.9% rate in the latest quarter. But economists say activity is slowing under the pressure of controlling the pandemic, a crackdown on technology companies and a downturn in the real estate sector.

Forecasters have slashed their estimate of China’s annual economic growth to as low as 3%. That would be less than half of last year’s 8.1 percent and the second lowest in decades.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the summit encouraged by his appointment to an unusual third term as party chairman, making him China’s most powerful leader. for many decades. This is his second trip abroad since the beginning of 2020, following a visit to Central Asia, where he met Putin in September.

Biden and Xi will hold their first face-to-face meeting since Biden became president in January 2021 on the sidelines of the event on Monday.

The United States is at odds with China on a range of issues, including human rights, technology and the future of self-ruled Taiwan. The United States views China as its biggest global competitor, and that competition is only likely to intensify as Beijing looks to expand its influence in the coming years.

The European Union is also reassessing its relationship with China as it seeks to reduce its commercial dependence on the country.

Biden said he plans to speak with Xi on topics including Taiwan, trade policy and Beijing’s relationship with Russia.

“What I want to do… is draw each of our red lines,” Biden said last week.

Many developing economies are caught between fighting inflation and trying to care for the post-pandemic recovery. Host country Indonesia’s economy grew at a rate of 5.7% in the last quarter, one of the fastest among the G-20 nations.

However, growth in resource-exporting countries like Indonesia is forecast to cool as prices of oil, coal and other commodities fall, ending the unexpected fortunes from a price boom over the past year. .

At a time when many countries are struggling to afford oil, gas and food imports while also meeting debt payments, pressure is mounting on those most vulnerable to climate change. climate to double the switch to more sustainable energy supplies.

In Bali, talks are also expected to focus on finding ways to accelerate the transition from coal and other fossil fuels.

The G-20 was established in 1999 as a forum to address economic challenges. It includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union. Spain keeps the guest seat permanently.

Some observers of the bloc, such as Josh Lipsky, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Center for Geoeconomics, question whether the G-20 can work as geopolitical rifts continue. increase.

“I doubt it can last long in the current format,” he said at a press conference last week.

That makes things especially difficult for the Indonesian host.

“This is not the G-20 they signed up for,” Lipsky said. “The last thing they want is to be in the middle of this geopolitical war, this war in Europe and its crossroads. But that’s where they are.”

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