G7 Virtually Recognizes China as A Superpower – Do They Fear China?

China pursues its territorial ambitions through physical military confrontation and by extending unmanageable loans to weaker countries, gaining a firm control over them and dictating terms at will.

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Students make a "Trojan Horse" model to protest against the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Brindisi, Italy, June 13, 2024. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

The meeting in Italy of the G7, which comprises seven of the most economically and industrially advanced countries in the world, discussed several matters including illegal migration, artificial intelligence, the Ukraine-Russia war, and others. However, the most focused discussion during the meeting was on strategies for facing the challenge from China in the spheres of commerce, trade, and economics.

Focus on China:

Chinese leadership must be happy in their heart of hearts that the G7 countries have focused so much on China and their competitiveness with China, which obviously means that China has been virtually recognized as a superpower by these advanced countries.

During the meeting, the G7 members talked about China’s rapidly expanding economic clout. With what appears to be a feeling of frustration and helplessness, G7 members said that China has created unbalanced markets in areas such as electric vehicles, steel, and renewable energy. In other words, the members seem to fear that China would overtake them sooner or later, perhaps sooner than later, in economic and trade terms and in the global market.

While members said that the G7 was not trying to harm China or thwart its economic development, the ground reality is that members fear that they would not be able to compete with China in the world market under present conditions. But, the statement that they would take actions to protect their businesses against unfair practices by China and ensure steps to level the playing field in the market makes it evident that there is an uncomfortable feeling amongst the G7 members that China has already overtaken them in the world market. Obviously, the use of these terms such as unfair practices and warnings against Chinese financial institutions reveals more a sense of panic than of confidence in their capability to compete against China in the world market.

The high level of focus on China during the G7 meeting indicates that the G7 members view the threat from China as much more serious and fundamental than the threat from Russia. Possibly, in the coming days, the obsession of G7 members with Russia will be replaced by their obsession with China.

While there is no debate anymore in the world that China has already emerged as a superpower due to its vast land area, spectacular economic and industrial growth, technological capability, and excess industrial capacity that enables China to dominate the world market by offering competitive prices and liberal credit terms, the question is how the threat from China should be viewed. This threat appears to be different for the G7 members compared to the threat felt by Asian countries.

Threat Fear in Asia:

The territorial ambitions of China have caused huge unrest and anxiety amongst Asian countries such as India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, and others. China’s forced occupation of Tibet several decades back after massacring thousands of Tibetan protestors has not been forgotten by the Asian countries. China’s continued occupation of Tibet stands as a monument to its territorial ambitions. China is now claiming the Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh as its own and is confronting other countries due to its claims in the South China Sea, Senkaku Islands, and so on. There is a feeling in India today that China may at any time invade India, if India were not to be alert militarily.

Two Ways to Achieve Territorial Ambitions:

China’s territorial ambitions are pursued in two ways. One is physical and military confrontation to occupy the territory of other countries. The other is to control weaker countries by extending loans beyond their capability to repay and getting a firm and unassailable presence in these countries, which virtually means that China can dictate its terms to these countries at any time. China is already occupying Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and Gwadar port in Pakistan under the so-called lease arrangement. China’s presence in these areas appears to be permanent.

China Sitting Pretty:

While the basis for the fear of G7 members and the Asian countries against China are different, both G7 members and Asian countries seem to be of the view that China has to be confronted in one way or another, to protect their interests.

As of now, China seems to be sitting pretty with its achievements already made in occupying the territory of other countries and in penetrating the global market at the cost of G7 members.

N.S.Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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