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Futile & Frustrating: This Year’s G20

Futile & Frustrating: This Year’s G20

Futile & Frustrating: This Year’s G20


Jeffery Lin '24

Although known as a popular vacation destination, Bali has served a different role this November: hosting political leaders at the G20 Conference. This summit convenes once a year and is regarded as the epitome of global political power. The G20 refers to the Group of 20 - an agglomeration of the world’s most powerful nations.

This year, the G20 conference attracted global attention due to Xi Jinping’s first appearance in three years and global leaders’ focus on Russia’s incursion into Ukrainian territory. The continual dominance of geopolitics over food and climate issues and the inadequate efforts taken to address the problems discussed in the conference illustrate an unhealthy trend of inactivity in the G20 conference and apathy in the press coverage.

The first highlight of the G20 conference was the heated discussion over Russia-Ukraine relations. Most participating countries condemned Russia’s operations in Ukraine and asked Russia to terminate its invasion and withdraw its military presence in Ukraine. The G19 (the G20 without Russia), then gathered to listen to Zelynskyy’s speech against Russia’s campaign in Ukraine. China and India, however, did not openly condemn Russia.

The Russia-Ukraine War has continued for more than half a year, resulting in tragic losses of numerous lives and impairing the two countries’ economies as a result of hefty military spending and numerous sanctions imposed by the two sides. This conflict should terminate immediately, and Russia and Ukraine should come to the table and find a solution to save the lives of many soldiers and civilians and repair their relationship. In my opinion, Ukraine should take into account Russia’s national security by desisting its attempt to join NATO, noting that Russia’s incentive for starting this war is that it feels threatened by NATO’s presence on its doorstep. Russia needs to concede all infringed Ukrainian territories in this military conflict.

Disappointingly, although this conference accentuated the debate over the Russia-Ukraine conflict, no affirmative progress was made. This lack of action has become a hallmark of modern-day political conferences and is detrimental to global development. It is especially disappointing that the conference did not make progress on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as considerable time was diverted from the original topics of climate change and food security to the war.

Xi Jinping’s appearance at the conference sparked intrigue across the globe. Prior to the summit, Xi Jinping communicated with Biden to discuss future China-U.S. relations. This communication between leaders of the two most powerful nations in the world has laid the groundwork for a warming relationship between China and the U.S. In addition, Secretary Antony John Blinken of the United States will be visiting China during March next year.

Regarding Taiwan, the U.S. recognized that China is not currently planning an attack on the island, relieving some of the previous tension raised by Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taipei this August, which has remained a point of contention between mainland China, the U.S., and the island of Taiwan. However, tangible change was still hard to come by - whether this conversation will serve as a foundation for a new relationship between China and the U.S. remains uncertain, as the economic, commercial, and political policies between the two countries remain unchanged.

The G20 summit served no significant role in improving the global climate. The world witnessed once again that even a meeting of the world’s most powerful leaders seems to be unable to produce action to protect the livelihoods and interests of humankind. Indonesia’s presidency intended to focus the discussion mainly on global climate issues and post-pandemic economic stability; however, the agenda was diverted to political issues between Russia and Ukraine and China and the United States. A brief, non-binding statement to limit global temperature increase to within 1.5 degrees Celsius and to diminish coal use were the sole attempts made to focus on energy and climate.

Whether any constructive action will be taken after the meeting is yet to be decided, although the outlook is grim. Many heavy carbon-emitting countries, including China, India, and the U.S., did not promise to immediately cut down greenhouse gas emissions and decrease coal use despite many other countries with lower industrial prowess and coal reliance promising to do so. A will to limit interest rate rises has also been declared without a specified planned course of action, and how this objective could be achieved remains uncertain.

Despite efforts by world leaders to reach consensus on pressing matters such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, global food, energy, climate change, economic issues, and China-U.S. ties, the G20 conference did not achieve more than a few empty promises. The lack of concrete plans for action and amelioration represents the increasingly pointless nature of modern-day political gatherings such as the G20 conference. Instead of wasting time in abstract discussions and non-binding statements, powerful nations should redirect their focus towards implementing sensible solutions.

Benjamin Who is an editor-in-chief of The Record.

May 18th

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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